The Importance of One on One Time with Kids
As parents we know how hectic life can get with school, work, activities, and taking care of a household. Even though we may spend a lot of time with our kids, it’s not always quality time. Recently I’ve been thinking about the importance of setting aside that one on one time with my daughter and have made it a priority. It all started with a simple dinner date and took off from there.
A few weeks ago I surprised my daughter by taking her out to dinner at one of our favorite spots after school. She can get her mac & cheese and I can get a burger & beer. Mom isn’t home Monday nights, so it was just the two of us. Hey, kids eat free on Mondays, bonus! It was fun and we she rambled on about school, TV shows, friends, etc. I noticed it was a lot different from her conversations at home; much more lighthearted.
The next Monday she got off the bus as asked if we were going out again. “Daddy, don’t forget kids eat free on Mondays.” Sure, why not. During dinner it really hit me how good of a thing this was. Our own weekly tradition; an escape from the daily grind. I realized I hadn’t spent that kind of relaxed time with her since back my early days as a stay at home dad when we used to go hiking. First with her in my backpack, then later running with those little legs to keep up on the trails. It really hit me how much I missed that bonding and began to think about how good it was for both of us.
So why is it important to set aside this kind of time with your kids? Eating dinner as a family is often cited as a good thing, which it is, but it’s not the same kind of time. A parent or two is busy with dinner prep, there may be multiple siblings vying for attention, and conversation often centers around potentially stressful topics like work and school. This isn’t a great time for a child to open up about their feelings or really get to connect with their parents on a more personal level. The good news is there are plenty of ways to find that one on one time.
Something as simple as going for a long walk, a dinner or movie date, or whatever activity you and your child both enjoy opens the door to casual conversation, which leads to truly getting to know each other better. And when you and your child communicate on this level it benefits both parties. You get a better understanding of what your child is going through with life and school, what makes them happy and what may give them trouble. It also works the other way too. A child who knows their parents’ likes, dislikes, etc. feels more comfortable and forms a closer bond, which will have a long lasting effect on your relationship. This can be most critical as you child becomes older and has to face the uncertainties of the teen years. Who wouldn’t want to know they can always count on their parents to be there when needed and also to have that knowledge that was passed down through the years of conversations.
I encourage you, as parents, to set aside some one on one time for each of your kids. Try to make it a weekly tradition or at least something that you can both look forward to on a regular basis. It will bring you closer together, relieve some of the stress of daily life, and create long lasting positive memories. I’d love to hear some of your own thoughts and suggestions on the topic. Feel free to comment below.