Get Out in the World and Enjoy Life (WITH Your Kids!)

Recently, I attended an event with moms for a moms’ night out. As we were standing around, chatting and getting to know one another, I began to realize: I am the worst mother ever. Every single mother at this event claimed she never did anything for herself. This was the first event she had been out to that year. I was really confused, because I get out a lot. Not to brag – I honestly never knew that being a mother meant I was supposed to not do anything that I enjoyed. When I had children, the only thing that changed was that I had young ones with me wherever I went. And, that is what I want to share today: how to take your children out into the world where you *and they* enjoy it.

I have four children, and we’ve attended our fair share of boring meetings. We have also attended our fair share of musicals, plays, dance performances, and music concerts. We do not eat out often, but our favorite places include IHOP, Applebee’s, and Olive Garden. For our family, the question has always only been about our budget, never about whether or not our children should or shouldn’t go to these places. We have always believed they learn best through exposure and modeling. The only way to experience either of those things is to do and go.


5 Tips for Getting Out WITH Your Kids

1. Begin from the beginning.

If possible, simply take your child with you to your own life commitments. I do not believe having a baby now means you can no longer do the things you enjoy. Now, perhaps, you don’t want to do those things anymore. Fair enough. But, if you *do* want to keep volunteering or participating, do.  We took our child to cast parties after my theater performances. We put a pack-n-play in the back bedroom, and she slept while we socialized with our friends. She learned to adapt, and we learned to continue to enjoy life.

2. Talk about it first.

I talk to my children before we do anything. I tell them what I know is going to happen, and I tell them things I imagine we can expect. I also tell them what I think they might appreciate knowing. I’ve done this with them since they were infants. I find communicating is hugely successful, even if they cannot talk to you, they are always listening.

This past week, we attended the symphony at Hancher. I was singing in the choir, and I wanted to share this with my family. Before we went inside, I told them it would be a lot of music. Some of the music would be really quiet, and some would be really loud, with clashing and banging, but it was only noise and would not hurt them. They did great. After the concert, they did mention the dynamics of the evening, but it was much more exciting to hear their other feedback. I may have a percussionist in my future.

3. Model appropriate behavior.

In addition to the talk before it happens, model the behavior you know is expected by others in the area. At restaurants, we show how we tell the server what we want to drink and eat. All four of our children now order for themselves. They have learned to speak loudly, clearly, and politely.

4. Have help.

It is often helpful to have another adult or older child with you when going out with more than one or two children, especially when they are younger. We are in the stage of life where our oldest child is an excellent helper. Also, my parents live nearby. If we all want to go somewhere together, it is nice to have the extra set or two of eyes with grandparents there with us.

5. Expect to enjoy your time together.

Spending time together doing what you love is an excellent way to share love with your family. Expect that you will have a good time, and you will. Yes, you may need to be a bit more flexible while you are out. You should definitely build in an extra 15-30 minutes if you are going somewhere with a start time.  Take some things you both enjoy doing while you wait. Our family loves to read or will make up games to play with words or actions, depending on our waiting space.
I encourage you to take a look at what you enjoyed doing before you had children. Are you doing it now? Would you like to? Go ahead! Being a mom does not mean you have to stop living. Show your children how to live instead.


Dawn lives life to play! Wife to Bryan and mother of four (ages 17, 14, 12, and 8,) she finds what she most enjoys and does it. Bryan tells people she hates a blank calendar; Dawn says she loves a colorful one. With a BA in Theatre and a certificate in Performing Arts Entrepreneurship from the University of Iowa, Dawn has successfully run two business and volunteered on numerous community theatre Boards of Directors. She currently colors in her calendar with Youngevity confidence consultation appointments, Chamber Singers of Iowa City board meetings, strength training and kickboxing at NLXF-NL, managing the office at BerganKDV, and setting as many dates with friends as she can. Dawn is passionate about respect and intentional choices. She loves coffee with cream, a good wheat beer, seeing someone discover something for the first time, and listening to audio books while driving.


  1. This is stupid. Once you have children your life is over. Stop telling people what they want to here. Still living in the memories of a life I once had. Having children is not what it once was. Especially since society has become so conditioned. Good luck doing what you used to love. You may get to once or twice before you die.

    • Brad – There are actually medications that can help you. If you are still living in the memories of a life you once had, you are both dishonoring that memory and depriving your kids the opportunity to create those memories for themselves. I hope, for your sake and for your children, that you get some help. Maybe go to an amusement park or, like, for a walk or something. Step up Brad, we have work to do!

  2. This is coming from a place of privilege though. Not everyone can afford to take their kids on vacation or even to the theater. Not everyone lives near a city. People who have money already do this stuff.


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