Gallery night? Oh yeah. (Mari-Jane Williams) Gallery night? Oh yeah. (Mari-Jane Williams)

Have you ever checked out Cool Mom Picks? The two women who run it (and its sister site Cool Mom Tech) are on it. There are a ton of sites out there for kids, about kids, by moms, by dads. This site makes sense. The women pick items related to our kids — and us — that work well, look good, seem like they are made just for us.

And so when I got the chance to talk to Liz Gumbinner, one of the Cool Mom founders (who also is fun to read on Twitter) about fun things that cost nothing (or just a little) to do with your kids, I jumped.

Let’s get this party started.

  • Diner night. Write up a menu with three or four items that you are willing to cook. Hand it to your kids and let them order what they have for dinner. Lay out construction paper and crayons as if it’s a real diner with paper placemats for them to scribble on. Leave a check. Tip optional.
  • Picnic night. A little dull in your house? Serve dinner on a blanket on the floor. Kids are excited, you have easy clean up. As soon as you can get yourself off the floor.
  • Spa day. Gumbinner said she’s against spending a ton of money on manis/pedis at a real spa. So on the next rainy day, hustle your kids into the bathroom with nail polish and sudsy warm water and get to it.
  • Art gallery night. Give the kids art supplies and tell them to get creative. Then start hanging. Gumbinner said she has invited grandparents over for this. She and the kids put on light music in the background, pass out glasses of grape juice and let the guests peruse the paintings. Purchase plans optional.
  • Video game night. Surprise your kiddos with this gift: ask them teach you a video game and compete all night long.
  • Shut off your device. How’s that for a present? Tell your kids that you are all theirs for the evening. No iPhone, no Facebook, no tweeting. Just you. They couldn’t want anything more.

“Families just want to connect and kids just want attention from their parents. They want to be with you, and it goes quickly,” Gumbinner, mom of 9- and 7-year-old girls, said. “As long as we can, I think there are easy ways to create surprising moments that make your relationship more special. It’s like being consciously present.”

We know how it goes. You work, you get home, you get dinner on the table and homework finished. You do bath, books and bed. It’s nice to stop and think about popping a little fun into the routine. Your kids will thank you. And you’ll thank yourself.


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