The Best Way to Nurture Your Mother-Daughter Bond: 101 Fun Mom-Daughter Date Ideas

Inside: To nurture a healthy mother-daughter relationship, check this epic list of mother-daughter date ideas, with fun mother-daughter activities for every budget.

With four kids in our family, our daily responsibilities as parents take up most of our free time.

It starts from the minute we wake up, when my husband and I start planning out the day – Who’s picking up the oldest from school? What’s for dinner tonight? Do we have enough food for every kid to have a lunch that consists of more than a stale tortilla and three dried-out carrots?

While we figure all that out and more, my husband makes three bowls of oatmeal alongside his own, and I clean the toddler’s grubby high chair from dinner last night because I forgot and…is that an ant?!

We’re constantly in go-go-go mode just to get the bare minimum done, and that doesn’t leave much time for stopping to connect with our kids.

How to fit in fun mother-daughter activities when you're a busy parent

But That’s a Big Problem

A healthy connection with our kids is essential. Research shows that in order to have a healthy relationship, for every negative interaction, you need five positive interactions to balance it out.

For example, when I lose my cool over my toddler coloring on the walls, we need five positive interactions to balance that out, or our relationship will suffer.

But I don’t need the research to tell me that because I can see it for myself.

When my connection with my children starts to suffer, the result is more power struggles and less cooperation from them. And when the power struggles wear down my patience, I sometimes turn into an angry mom, which feeds the disconnection even more.

And then above all, my goal is to build a strong mother-daughter bond that will last a lifetime. As it turns out, a healthy mother-daughter relationship can be the strongest of all family relationships throughout your child’s life.

But it’s when my daughters are young that I must invest in a solid foundation for our relationship. If we don’t start out with a healthy connection now, it certainly won’t magically appear when they’re teenagers or adults.

Related: How to Stop Being an Angry Mom Now Using 5 Hair Ties Printable

Mother-daughter date ideas from toddler to teenager

Here’s the Solution…With a Catch

Nothing gets us back on track like some good quality bonding time, whether that’s reading our favorite picture books on the couch together or playing one of our quick family bonding games for an emergency dose of connection.

All it takes is a few minutes, and we walk away smiling and feeling that invisible string between our hearts again.

But sometimes my kids let me know that what they really need is more than a group bonding activity. They need one-on-one time with me.

Because my daughters all have such different personalities, the way they communicate this manifests in different ways:

  • My oldest gets quiet and disappears behind a book
  • My youngest daughter acts out by climbing the furniture, dumping her water bottle out on the floor, or morphing into a toddler-sized Godzilla and destroying her older sisters’ prized Magna Tiles creation of the day
  • And my middle daughter, whose emotional intelligence outstrips my own, will walk up to me while I’m doing dishes or folding laundry, slip her little hand into mine, and say, “I want some mama time”

Sometimes I’ve made the mistake of ignoring or pushing off these pleas for connection, and I always regret it later. But more power struggles and less cooperation don’t exactly make for a happy family. So I’ve learned to pay close attention to my daughters when they show me or tell me they need one-on-one time.

The Tricky Part?

One-on-one time sounds great in theory, but we do still have a household to run and four kids to parent, so I can’t always drop what I’m doing and have a full-fledged mother-daughter day to get that one-on-one time. And with my daughters ranging in age from tween to toddler, what works as a fun mother-daughter activity with one girl may not work with the others.

So when it comes to mother-daughter date ideas, we’ve had to get a little creative.

For several years, I’ve kept a special list of mother-daughter date ideas on my computer for my own use. Every time I came across a new idea for fun mother-daughter dates, I added it to the list.

Any time I feel a disconnect with one of my girls, I go to the list and find an idea of something we can do in the very near future. I don’t have to come up with fun ideas out of thin air, and my girls get the connection they’re craving. Win-win.

Related: 7 Most Powerful Ways to Get an Emergency Dose of Family Connection Printable

Fun things to do with your daughter, no matter budget, age, or time available

101 Best Mother-Daughter Date Ideas for Every Age, Budget, And Situation

Recently, it dawned on me that I may not be the only busy mom looking for simple ways to connect with my daughters, so I decided to clean up the list and share it here with you.

If you’re looking for mother-daughter things to do that will help you feel closer to your girl, check this epic list for the best ideas.

Decide how much time you have for your one-on-one bonding, then find that section for oodles of ideas for fun things to do with your daughter.

But First, a Disclaimer

My son is just a few months old, but I’m already looking ahead to when he’ll be old enough to connect with on this level. Out of this whole list, I counted only a handful of ideas that may not be the right fit for some boys. So if you have a son, go ahead and use this list too!

But because I’m a mom and I have three older daughters I’ve been having one-on-one time with for 10 years, I wrote this as a mother-daughter date ideas list.

20 Minutes or Less: Quick But Powerful!

These mother-daughter date ideas are perfect when you need a spontaneous dose of healthy connection with your daughter.

Free, or Less Than $10

  1. Have an impromptu dance party. Research shows that listening to music together creates healthy bonds and builds positive memories. Check out this girl power playlist or this happy family playlist.
  2. Ask each other interesting questions. Our favorites are from this set of adorable family conversation starters. We use these questions every night with our kids, and they’ve been a game-changer, helping us end every day feeling connected, loved, and happy.
How to Unlock Your Child's Heart: The Best Conversation Starters for KidsMake these family conversation starters one of your go-to mother-daughter bonding activities
for a quick dose of connection.
  1. Read aloud. If she’s old enough, you can take turns reading out loud to each other from the same book. If reading aloud is already part of your daily routine and feels a bit too routine to be special, you can switch it up by changing genres. For example, you might read poetry or magazine articles to each other. When my oldest daughter and I want to connect one-on-one, we’ll take turns reading to each other from Harry Potter.
  2. Take turns taking photos of each other. Odds are that as the mom, you’re the one behind the camera most of the time so there aren’t many family photos of you. So your daughter may appreciate the honor of capturing some rare snapshots of you. You can dress up if you want or keep it simple. Feel free to be as silly as you want!
  3. Make art together. You can doodle, design thank-you cards, or try something fancy you found on Pinterest. Not only is creating art important for your child’s development, but it’s also been shown to impact health by reducing stress and anxiety, increasing positive emotions, and reducing the likelihood of depression.
  4. Take turns telling each other jokes. If you don’t know many jokes, these two joke books are our favorites, and they’re both super inexpensive: Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids and Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids. (If you like those, this author has a ton of joke books for even more ideas!)

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  1. Look at pictures. Grab a family photo album and look at old photos together. Whether you look at her baby pictures or pictures from when you were a kid, kids love a trip down memory lane. For bonus points, throw in a few childhood stories.
  2. Dress each other. Let your daughter pick out your clothes for the day, then you do the same for her. Then head out to run errands or to your regular daily routine wearing what you picked out for each other.
  3. Write poems about each other. My oldest daughter had a project in fourth grade where parents were encouraged to write a poem about their kids. I was nervous to write a poem since that’s not in my wheelhouse, but when I read the finished poem out loud to my daughter, she beamed. Sit down and write poems together, then read them aloud to each other.
  4. Climb into bed. Pick any time of day and pile into your bed and cuddle together for a few minutes. You may be surprised at what your daughter opens up about after a few minutes of shared quiet!
  5. Tell a story. Think back to a funny or cute story from when she was younger – or from when you were a child – and share it with your daughter. Even if she’s heard it before.
  6. Stop and play. Sit down and just play for a few minutes – no smartphones, no multitasking. Just follow her lead.
  7. Start a game of chase or hide-and-seek. For younger girls, she’ll love it if you pretend her hiding place is so good you can’t find her.
  8. Start rough-housing or a pillow fight. Research shows this kind of play builds emotional intelligence and brings joy for kids – yes, even girls!

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  1. Make up a story together. You make up one sentence, then pass it to your child for the next sentence. For even more fun with this mother-daughter bonding activity, use one of the Create and Tell Me a Story card decks.
  2. Talk in the dark. When you put her to bed, turn out the lights and snuggle in bed with her. Ask questions and listen. Here’s one of our favorites: “When did you feel most loved today?”
  3. Ask for help. Ask her to help you with something like doing laundry or paying bills. Not only is this one of the best kinds of mother-daughter bonding activities, she may learn a new life skill, too.
  4. Welcome the day. Wake up early and watch the sunrise together.
  5. Have a hula hoop contest. Winner gets to pick their favorite meal for dinner, an extra piece of candy after dinner, or just bragging rights.
  6. Make homemade slime or play dough. Then play with it together.
  7. Color on the sidewalk. Use sidewalk chalk to create a masterpiece or invent a new game. If you need some inspiration, check out Chalk on the Wild Side, which has 25+ chalk art projects, recipes (glow-in-the-dark chalk!), and chalk game ideas for you.

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  1. Learn a new language together. Try the Duolingo app, or get language lessons on Audible. (Use this special link to get two free audiobooks on Audible.)
  2. Meditate together. Our favorite app is Headspace because it has sections specifically for kids.
  3. Give each other massages. This works for a wide age range, and it’s easy to do anytime or any place.

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Between $10-20

  1. Color together. Get a special mother-daughter coloring book, which has one intricate page for mom and one simpler page for your daughter in each spread. Our favorites are this book with adorable animal illustrations and this one with more variety that a family therapist helped create. Coloring is perfect as a mother-daughter bonding activity because you can do it in short spurts of time. And if you’re feeling a little disconnected, the action of coloring calls on both logic (staying in the lines) and creativity (picking colors and color schemes), which helps your brain relax. Don’t forget to pick up some snazzy new coloring pencils or fineliner pens to go along with your pretty coloring books!
  2. Do a crossword puzzle. We love this series of crossword puzzle books because they have perforated pages you can tear out so you can solve a puzzle on the go.

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  1. Take turns writing. Get a shared journal for kids and parents and write back and forth to each other. This is my favorite mother-daughter journal because it gives you a magical way to get your kid to open up about what’s going on so you can stay connected. Or if you’d prefer to share a drawing journal, the co-author of this gorgeous mom and me art journal is a licensed art therapist so it’s specifically designed to improve your mother-daughter relationship.
This journal for kids is the perfect fit for moms and daughters who want to connectThis sweet journal is the perfect fit for moms and daughters who want to stay connected.

An Hour or Two

When you have a little more time to spare, these fun mother-daughter activities will help you feel close and connected.

Free, or Less Than $10

  1. Go for a long walk or hike. Without the distractions of daily life at home, your daughter may open up and share her heart with you on the walk. Plus, outdoor time is good for your relationship, according to science. Research shows time spent in nature helps mothers and daughters get along better.
  2. Have a coffee date. Bring your favorite board game or card game to your neighborhood coffee shop, then treat yourselves to a fancy drink while you play – coffee for you, hot chocolate for her. Here’s a list of our all-time favorite family board games for all ages.
  3. Browse the bookstore. Take her to a bookstore and browse the shelves in the kids’ section together. Whether she’s at the picture book, chapter book, or young adult level, pick out a book or two and read out loud to her. (Kids are never too old to be read to!) If you need some ideas, here are our absolute favorite picture books of all time – and we read a lot. For a special treat, surprise her by buying her a new book she has her eye on.
  4. Have a movie night for two. At home, watch your favorite movie, her favorite movie, or a new movie you’re both interested in. Then afterwards, talk about your favorite parts.
  5. Get a mani-pedi. You can go DIY style at home and paint each other’s nails, or make it an extra special event by taking her to a nail salon so you can both relax while you’re pampered.
  6. Trade makeovers. Get your makeup bag out, and let your daughter do whatever she wants – then swap roles. You may look ridiculous after she’s done with your makeover, but she’ll love being “in charge.”
  7. Exercise together. Pop in a workout DVD (we like Jillian Michaels’s Yoga Meltdown) and have fun keeping your bodies healthy. Or if that’s not your style, go for a quick run or bike ride together.
  8. Host a book club meeting for two. Read the same book – together or apart – then have a meeting where you talk about what happened in the book, your favorite characters, what surprised you, and so on. Even better: Host your book club at the local coffee shop or bakery.
  9. Make a meal. This is extra fun if you try out a new recipe for the first time together. Or if you don’t want to make a meal, bake a treat together or make homemade ice cream.
  10. Put on a fashion show. Try on clothes from your closet that you haven’t worn in a while, and your daughter can do the same. If you’re close in size, you can even let her try on your clothes. As an added bonus, you may get new ideas for how to wear what you already have – or at least you’ll be able to clear out stuff that didn’t work out.
  11. Play a board game or a card game. For an extra treat, pick up a new game you haven’t played before. For ideas, check out Forget Candyland! This Is the Best List of Board Games for All Ages.
  12. Camp out in the living room. After the rest of the family goes to bed, set up your sleeping bags in the living room and stay up late talking, watching a movie, or playing a board game – or all of the above.
  13. Go on a photo scavenger hunt. You can find free printable photo scavenger hunts online like this simple printable and this one for tweens and teens.
  14. Paint rocks. Then leave them somewhere for a stranger to find so you can brighten their day.
  15. Go to the park, just the two of you. Join your daughter on the swings, and go ahead and try out the big slide too.
Fun mother-daughter date ideas: Visit the park or a local splash pad
  1. Stargaze. Stay up late and lay in your yard, counting stars.
  2. Get literary. Go hear an author speak at a local bookstore. Bonus points if it’s one of your daughter’s favorites.
  3. Feed the ducks. Visit a nearby pond with ducks. (Just make sure to bring defrosted frozen peas or corn, never bread!)
  4. Go swimming. Visit the local swimming pool or splash pad, just the two of you.
  5. Try geocaching. Have fun exploring together.
  6. Try on shoes. Go to the best shoe store in your area and try on as many shoes as you want.
  7. Make something. Find a craft or DIY project on Pinterest and make it together. (My Playful Parenting board has tons of fun ideas.)
  8. Go skating. Try roller skating, ice skating, or rollerblading.
  9. Visit the library. Then pick out books for each other.
  10. Play a sport together. Try something like tennis, or visit the batting cages or driving range.
  11. Scrapbook side-by-side.
  12. Train for a race like a 5K. Then run it together.
  13. Declutter together. Go through your closet and pick things to rehome, then switch and go through her closet.
  14. Round up all the spare change you can find. Then decide together on a charity to donate it to. Check the couch cushions, the bottom of purses, junk drawers, and cup holders in your car. (Whenever we do this, my girls always want to throw in some of their piggy bank money to donate even more!)
  15. Clean out the pantry together. Get rid of expired food, and bag up any other food you can to donate to a local food bank.
  16. Invent a new recipe together.
  17. Get inspired. Look through magazines and Pinterest to find ideas for redecorating her bedroom. Clip any photos you love and make a vision board. (For fresh ideas, try my Kids’ Room Ideas board.)
  18. Do each other’s hair. Find a fun hairstyle on Pinterest and practice it on each other. (Check out my How to Be a Girl board for ideas.)
  19. Fly a kite. Take turns flying a kite at a nearby park.
  20. Have a slumber party. Join your daughter in her room for one night, just the two of you.
  21. Play with paper dolls. Print a cute set of color-in paper dolls, then cut them out and color them together, then play dress-up. I downloaded a set of the most adorable paper dolls from this Etsy seller, and my girls had so much fun! Even my 10-year-old.

Between $10-20

  1. Solve a jigsaw puzzle. We do a lot of puzzles in our family, and our absolute favorite puzzle-maker is Ravensburger because the pieces are nice and sturdy – perfect for little fingers. But if you’re both whizzes at puzzles, maybe you’re brave enough to try this impressive 33,000-piece puzzle that’s the world’s largest.

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  1. Take her out for ice cream. Let her order whatever she wants. The more scoops the better!
  2. Grow something. You can go all out and start a garden or just find an empty pot and plant a pretty flower in it. This mother-daughter bonding activity is great because you can take care of the plant together every day. Here’s an all-in-one garden starter that we’ve used and loved.

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  1. Have a picnic. Grab a basket and pack yummy food, an outdoor blanket (this one’s our favorite), and sparkling juice like Izze.
  2. Meet your daughter at school for lunch. Bring her favorite meal, even if it’s fast food. Or for a smaller treat, bring a cookie or another surprise dessert.

More Than $20

  1. Take a class. Find a class you’re both interested and sign up, like an art, pottery, sewing, photography, self-defense, or cooking class – or something else altogether. If you’re on a budget, most home improvement stores offer free kid-friendly workshops. Learning a new skill or trying something you’ve never done before can be a little stressful in the moment, but research shows it pays off with increased happiness in the long term.
  2. Go thrifting. Shopping is one of the most stereotypical mother-daughter bonding activities, but it doesn’t always fit the family budget, and you may not want to foster a love of “stuff” from a young age. If that’s the case, take her to a thrift store, a flea market, or garage sales and look for hidden gems.
  3. Take her out to eat. Pick a restaurant you both love, a new restaurant you’ve never tried before, or just get a couple slices of deliciously greasy pizza, and share a meal just the two of you.
Looking for mother-daughter date ideas? Take her out for pizza
  1. Go to a yoga class. Find a class your daughter will feel comfortable with, and do it together.
  2. Go see a movie in the theater. Be sure to get your favorite theater treat, whether that’s buttery popcorn, a king size Twix, or the pucker power of Sour Patch Kids.
  3. Visit the local farmer’s market. Sample as much as possible, and pick up something fun to bring home and share with the rest of the family.
  4. Explore a museum. Younger kids love children’s museums, and older girls may enjoy visiting other attractions like an art museum, natural history museum, planetarium, science museum, and so on.
  5. Take her to a show. Find a musical, play, or other performance, and surprise her with tickets. She’ll love the excuse to get dressed up!
  6. Throw a spur-of-the-moment party just because. You could throw an “It’s Friday” party, a “Rainy Day” party, or even a “We Had a Fight But We Still Love Each Other” party. Remember: A party without cake is just a meeting.
  7. Go bowling. It doesn’t matter if you stink at bowling. Laugh it off, and it will add to the fun.
  8. Let your daughter decide what to do. Give her twenty dollars (or ten, or whatever your budget is) and tell her she can decide how you’ll spend your time together. She may decide to spend it all on candy, but research shows that kids are happier when they have a say in how they spend their time.
  9. Play miniature golf.
  10. Take her to an outdoor play or concert.
  11. Host a tea party for two. Dress up and wear fancy hats if you have them, and do everything the British do for high tea. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, visit a local tea room or hotel for high tea.
  12. Give back. Pick a project on Kiva to invest in. You can lend as little as $25 to help someone start or grow a business, go to school, and more to help them realize their potential. As another option, you can find a project on DonorsChoose and help kids in economically disadvantaged areas get what they need in order to learn better at school.
  13. Watch sports. Get tickets to a sporting event and splurge on the junk food. For an extra treat, get a souvenir to remember the fun day.
  14. Go on a walking tour in your city. Some cities even have food walking tours where you can try a few new restaurants in the span of a couple hours.
  15. Book haircuts for both of you. Schedule them for the same time so you can chat while you’re pampered.
  16. Pick fresh fruit. Visit a local u-pick farm and pick fresh fruit – berries, apples, pumpkins, or whatever’s in season.
  17. Visit the animals. If you and your daughter love animals, visit a zoo or a farm with a petting zoo. If you don’t have a zoo nearby, a local pet store works in a pinch, especially for younger kids.
  18. Get breakfast treats. Wake up before everyone else in the family and head out early to get breakfast treats, like breakfast tacos, donuts, or cinnamon rolls. Don’t forget to bring home extras to share with everyone else!
  19. Visit an arcade. Play as many games as possible together.

Half a Day or More

As busy parents, it can be hard to set aside a full day or even half a day. But if you can put it on the calendar once every two to three months, do it because these mother-daughter date ideas are so much fun.

Free, or Less Than $10

  1. Take a mental health day. Take one day off school and work and spend the day together. Just make sure she doesn’t have any big tests, quizzes, or projects due that day! Or if you can’t afford a full day, pick her up an hour or two early from school and go do something fun from this list.
  2. Volunteer. For younger kids, it can be difficult to find organized volunteer activities, but you can always put together care packages for the homeless in your area or make cards to brighten the day of nursing home residents.
  3. Bring your daughter to work with you.
  4. Camp out in your backyard one night. Don’t forget the s’mores fixin’s!
  5. Go on a random acts of kindness spree. Pick a day and commit as many random acts of kindness as you can think of.
  6. Spend time in nature. Drive to the nearest beach or nature center and soak up the outdoor time.
  7. Take her to college. If it’s within driving distance, take her to your alma mater and show her around campus. If it’s too far away, take her to the closest college campus and explore together. Ask questions about what she thinks college will be like, and share any fun stories you can remember from when you went.

More Than $20

  1. Take a day trip. Find a fun destination that’s within driving distance and head there together to explore. Research shows taking a trip with your child becomes a “happiness anchor” for her – in other words, vacations stick in kids’ brains as vivid memories, and later on as adults those memories can even help them get through tough times. (Don’t forget to crank up a girl power playlist and sing aloud at the top of your lungs!)
  2. Visit a fair or amusement park. Ride every ride together and eat all the junk food you can.
  3. Pretend to be tourists in your own town. Have fun exploring a tourist attraction or two.
  4. Have a one-night staycation. Book a night at a hotel in your downtown area. For a special treat, order room service for breakfast or for a late-night treat.

Download now: 150 Family Conversation Starters That Will Unlock Your Child’s Heart

Your Turn

What are your favorite mother-daughter date ideas? Share in a comment below!

The Ultimate List of the Best 101 Mother-Daughter Date Ideas
The Ultimate List of the Best 101 Mother-Daughter Date Ideas

Author information

Kelly

I’m a mom of four, a recovering perfectionist, and the author of Happy You, Happy Family. Parenting is hard enough without all the guilt we heap on top of ourselves. So let’s stop trying to be perfect parents and just be real ones. Sound good? Join my mailing list and as a bonus, you’ll get 25+ incredibly helpful cheat sheets that will ease your parenting struggles.

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