Trying to make time to spend one-on-one with your kids and need some ways to make it special? KAG Contributor and mom of two girls, Kristina, has some ideas.
I think most parents can agree that time flies when their kids are growing up. Maybe not in those first months (or years) when sleep is non-existent and the constant routine of sleep-eat-poop is all kids do but certainly once parents regain consciousness and babies start not being babies anymore, they can tell time is flying. How do you really make the most of the years you have with your kids? I think about this a lot, for reasons I’ll tell you about shortly, and have found a few things that have strengthened my relationship with my children.
Taking my kids on dates
One-on-one time is so special with my two children, ages 11 and 7. I do a lot with them together but getting time just with each of them and myself is truly special.
To make it happen, I have to be pretty creative because it’s not easy to get that time between my husband’s schedule and my own. During his less busy times of the year, I try to give him a heads-up that I want to take my kids out just one of them and myself so he can also think about doing something with the other one. I’ll ask each of my kids what they want to do (within reason) and then plan it out. This is usually pretty simple honestly. For my one daughter over the summer, she wanted to walk around in downtown Greenville and get bubble tea so that’s what we did. It was so much fun and we got to just stroll and sit on the benches downtown and talk and go to M. Judson’s bookstore and browse the books and cute gifts.
My husband has had a tradition of taking our oldest daughter to see the Jurassic Park and Star Wars movies every year when they come out, usually over the summer. It’s something special to them that I think is really sweet and great to share together.
Sometimes finding the hour or two during regular life to take my daughters on a special date is hard but when my family goes on vacation, it’s way easier! One year we went to Hilton Head as a family and I took each of my daughters separately on a kayak and paddleboard tour in the salt marshes. It was such a blast!
Another time, I took each of them window shopping in small beach towns to get ice cream while my husband swapped out with our other kid to spend time with her. It worked out really well.
Tips on Spending Quality Time With Your Child(ren)
Here are some things I’ve found helpful when spending time one-on-one with my kids and quality time with them in everyday life:
Engage them in your regular activities: I try to include my kids in as much of my regular life as possible, like helping out in the kitchen for meals, making grocery lists and shopping, planting and watering our little garden, doing our nails, and even in my own work as I let them read my stories I’ve written or ask them questions about places we go and what’s interesting about them.
Nurture their own interests: My kids’ personalities, interests, and gifts are like presents that I get to open all year long and discover new things about them. One of my daughters loves art and making things so I try to do things with her that involve those activities. My other daughter loves adventurous activities and trying new things so that’s what we do.
Listen to them: I’d say this is a really big one not just for my kids but also for any other relationship. Put your phone down, take out your earplugs, close your laptop and listen to them when they are talking to you and give them your attention. I don’t mean every time your five-year-old says “watch this!” and slides down a slide for the millionth time because that would probably drive me insane. I’m talking about when they want to show you a new drawing or when they come home from school and tell you about their day or talk about a sports game they participated in or an issue with a friend. I remember the people in my life who look me in the eye and make me feel like the only person that matters just because they listen to me. I want to be that person for my loved ones.
Get outside: I am big into hiking, camping, paddleboarding, and anything outdoors and have nurtured that same love in my kids. When we are hiking or doing something outdoors, I just find it so much easier to remove distractions and be more present with my kids. I’m not constantly checking my phone or email when we are outdoors. I feel like I’m more in tune with life, with my kids, and with myself when we are enjoying nature and this has helped us tremendously to have great conversations on the trail or just talk about whatever my kids want without distraction. Especially where we live in the Upstate, getting outside is so, so easy because of the hundreds of miles of trails we have, the pristine lakes, the beautiful waterfalls. It’s an entire world waiting to be discovered by you and your kids.
Show affection: One of my kids’ love languages (look it up – love languages are interesting) is physical touch so if I hug her or hold her hand, I can see an immediate change in her for the better. If she’s having trouble with schoolwork, I’ll sit right next to her where we are touching and nearly every time, it helps her to calm down and focus. My other daughter loves words of affirmation so I’m mindful to tell her what a great job she is doing or how beautiful her artwork looks or how entertaining her written story is. These are ways I know for sure my kids understand how much I love them and ways I can show affection that they will immediately get.
The time is gone before we know it
I said in the beginning of this post that I’d tell you my reasons for focusing so much on quality and one-on-one time with my kids. I remember the times I had with my own mom where it was just her and I and I treasure those memories and photos like my life depended on it. When I was in college, she visited me in Washington, DC and we did a dinner cruise and bike ride all around the monuments. It was such fun. We were able to spend a week together abroad also when I was in college, which was amazing. And she taught me how to cook in our family kitchen growing up and we loved watching The Food Network together and laughing over how much butter Paula Deen was using to cook bacon.
My mom died when I was in my mid-20s and – I don’t think I’m alone here in saying this – it made an enormous impression on my life. I know what quality time with people I love means. I know what time with my mom meant and I’m determined to give that same time and love to my own kids. I mess up often as a parent but I always try to come back to this road of giving my kids the time they deserve and making memories that they will take with them for the rest of their lives.
Things to Do for One-on-One Time
The effort you make to carve out special moments with your kids is worth it, whether they are toddlers or teenagers. We have plenty of ideas on things to do with your kids for one-on-one dates in the Upstate.