Date Your Kids :: Tips for Maximizing One-on-One Time with Your Kids

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READING TIME: 6 min.

When is the last time you were asked on a date? How did it make you feel? Knowing someone wants to spend time with you and know you better is flattering and exciting! We know dating is important in relationships, and even in marriages. But have you ever considered dating your kids? Prioritizing “dates” or one-on-one time with our kids makes them feel special and is important in fostering a healthy parent/child relationship.

When you’re parenting multiple kids every hour of every single day, sometimes they get lumped together into “the kids I must parent” rather than being recognized as these incredible, unique little humans, whom I have the absolute pleasure of watching grow and develop into (hopefully!) incredible, unique adult humans who will change the word. 

Every so often when I get the chance to step back and shake things up, I can see them for who they are, and I’m in awe of how great they are. One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is to spend one-on-one time with my kids. It’s important for them and for us as parents. Sometimes we all need a fresh perspective.

Benefits of One-on-One Time with Your Kids

Dallas Moms One-on-one time with kidsWho doesn’t like it when someone sets aside a special time for us? How much more so does this communicate love and acceptance to a child. Setting aside one-on-one time with a child boosts their confidence, shows them care and consideration, and makes them feel important. I don’t know any parent who wouldn’t want these things for their kids. We can all achieve these results by simply being a bit more intentional with our time and our kids. 

Spending one-on-one time with our kids also gives a chance to connect individually with their interests, without having to make the experience age-appropriate for the whole family. During a date with my 10-year-old, we can dive into the Dallas Museum of Art without fear of my 4-year-old melting down or knocking anything over. Similarly, during one-on-one time with my 4-year-old, we can enjoy lunch at the American Girl Bistro without the inevitable eye rolls and sighs from my 10-year-old. (Even though she once loved it!)

Setting Expectations for One-on-One Time with Your Kids

Set expectations: This has quickly become my parenting motto as I’ve learned it can solve 97% percent of our dilemmas.

Recently, I had a week with only my son at home, and I was excited to spoil him and give him lots of individual attention. I had ideas of what we would do, but I wanted to let him make the decisions, whenever possible. When I asked what he wanted to do on our first afternoon alone, I was expecting big ideas (Six Flags, Dave & Buster’s, go-carts!), but his response was: “Play a board game, and then can I pick a movie for us to watch?” That was a surprise — and much easier (and sweeter) than I had anticipated.

Similarly, when my husband let each of our kids pick a place for him to take them for a one-on-one dinner, he experienced the full restaurant spectrum — from Sonic all the way to Bob’s Steak & Chop House. Different kids, different expectations. 

As someone who personally struggles with managing my own expectations, I fully understand the disappointment of a child who thinks they’re getting one thing, only to end up with something much less satisfying. If we can talk to our kids ahead of time about what they want to do, or are expecting, during their one-on-one time, we will all have a better time in the long run.

Setting a Budget for One-on-One Time with Your Kids

Spending one-on-one time with your kids does NOT have to cost a thing! For my 4-year-old daughter, taking a walk (with her leading the way!) is one of her favorite ways to spend one-on-one time. It’s simple but sweet. Some of our best conversations happen on those walks.

Dallas moms one-on-one time with kidsIf you are going to do an activity that involves a cost, it’s important to take that into consideration ahead of time. The frequency of your one-on-one times and the number of children you have are both factors to consider when it comes to creating a budget. If you’re attempting to have special one-on-one activities weekly, you might have a smaller budget than you would if you were planning on having monthly one-on-one activities. Similarly, your budget might look different if you have two kids versus five kids. Creating a budget ahead of time helps everyone — kids and parents alike! — have a better understanding of what to plan for and what to expect. 

Recommendations for One-on-One Time with Your Kids

Boy play solitaire
My son asked to learn solitaire on one of our lunch dates.
  • Put your devices away both of you! This should be a time where you are engaged and focused on your child and vice versa. Eliminate the distractions, and keep the electronics tucked away. 
  • Let your child lead the way as much as possible. You might be surprised what they come up with!
  • Conversation cards can help guide your time together. My kids and I love these conversation cards. They always lead us into entertaining conversations that we might not have otherwise had. For example, “If you could go to the Olympics, which sport would you choose to participate in?” It’s fun to see where their creativity leads!
  • Surprise vs. planned — I love surprises! But my son likes to know more about what’s going on. Depending on your child, you may want to surprise them with a date tailored to some of their favorite things. Other kids might like to handpick their one-on-one time, while others might love the idea of planning something together with you. Think about your individual child, and decide what’s best for him or her.

Personal Favorites for One-on-One Time with Your Kids

We love going on walks, hikes, or bike rides. Mix it up by getting out of the neighborhood and going to a favorite park. My kids feel absolutely transported when we make the short drive to Prairie Creek Park or Klyde Warren Park.

{Read More: 10 Ways to Show Your Kids You Love Them}

Taking a trip to the library or the DMA are other fun, FREE outings. Sometimes one-on-one time can be as simple as watching a favorite movie on Netflix (with popcorn, of course!) in mom and dad’s bed — if it’s after younger siblings’ bedtimes, that’s an added bonus. 

And don’t ever underestimate the power of a simple meal (their choice!) or trip for ice cream. I’ve learned that the importance of one-on-one time with your kids has much less to do with WHAT you’re doing and everything to do with ENGAGING with your kids right where they are.  

Some of our favorite locations for special one-on-one date times include:

What is your favorite way to spend one-on-one time with your kids?

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