Families with Style: Daddy Dearest

Because Father's Day is just around the corner, we asked family style maven Liz Lange to share her favorite tips for generating quality time with Dad.

Let Dad be the mom Admit it: Running errands with Mom is part and parcel of nearly every kid's day-to-day existence. But when kids do the same old thing with Dad, it's not just a job -- it's an adventure. Sorry, Mom, but that trip to the (insert mundane task here) takes on a whole new appeal when Dad does it -- his way. So encourage your mate to make a date with the kids. You'll get a day of leisure, some chores knocked off the to-do list and the joy of watching Dad bond with his biggest admirers.

The usual tasks take on a new flair with Dad at the helm. Sometimes you can diffuse the stress of the more tension-fraught activities -- dentist appointments, haircuts, clothes shopping -- by sending Dad along. His unexpected participation might be enough to ease your child's anxiety. And of course it's always great to get him to take charge in the areas that interest him most. If he likes sports but you're the one who always chauffeurs your daughter to soccer practice after school, let Dad get in on the fun. If he hasn't met the other parents, talked to the coach or actually attended a game, he might find that he enjoys it all.

Change shifts If you're going to switch it up a bit this weekend, start with the breakfast shift. Sleep in while Dad turns on the cartoons and makes the pancakes. If he's not up to cooking, he can take the kids to a local coffee shop and bond over bagels. It's the time spent together that matters most. Same thing goes for evenings. In my household, if I do mornings, my husband might take over in the evenings. There's no rule that says Mom has to be the one who's crazed at both ends of the day. Dad can read the bedtime stories, while Mom comes in for the goodnight kiss -- rather than vice versa!

 

Do something unexpected As the days get longer, Dad might try taking the kids out for a walk when he gets home from work. In my family, it's one of those off-schedule, unexpected things -- and that's what makes it fun. At a time when the kids are usually winding down, they get a kick out of the change from their usual routine. Sometimes they even go out in their pajamas!

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