A father carrying his daughter as she hugs him


One-On-One Dates With Our Kids Help Us See Another Side Of Them

Nov 8, 2018

In our home, lately it feels like everything is a competition. No matter how big or small the event, my five and three-year-old are constantly trying to see who is the best at getting their shoes on first, eating their snack first, putting the most glitter in their slime and just about everything in between.

And forget trying to give kudos — before I can even get the words out to acknowledge one kid’s accomplishments, I can already hear the whining retort of the other. The biggest competition of all seems to be the one for attention.

While I’m pretty sure this phase is far from over, it has reminded me of a parenting goal my husband and I set years ago: one-on-one dates with our kids.

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Although the idea of spending separate, focused time on each kid seemed ideal, it was one that floated away during the kids’ younger days because, frankly, free time wasn’t exactly jumping out of our calendar. But as the kids got bigger and we recognized that they’d benefit from some focused attention, these dates sprung to mind again, and we decided to make the time.

... we have found that our kids come away from our dates with some calm and confidence in themselves ....

Our approach for one-on-one dates is picking two days each month that we stick to and then on one of the days while I’m out with my daughter, my husband will spend that time solo with my son and then on the other day, we switch. We normally pick an activity that not only each kid prefers, but that each parent who is out with that kid enjoys too since we each have different things in common with each of them. It can be as simple as cozying up under a blanket with hot chocolate while reading books together or going out to get a special treat like ice cream. What we’ve found is that it’s less about the event and more about the quality time.

The results have been both eye-opening and heartwarming.

In addition to serving the original purpose of giving each kid their due spotlight without them constantly trying to elbow out “the competition," these dates have also allowed us the opportunity to really connect with each child better and more deeply than we normally do on a day-to-day basis.

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Some things we really value about these dates are:

  • Hearing the kids open up: It’s amazing to learn the little gems from their day or week, details that are not always shared when we’re all together.
  • Seeing different sides of our kids: The solo time gives each kid the spotlight. For example, our son often follows his big sister’s lead in what he talks about, but when we’re alone, his personality shines through with the observations and thoughts he shares.
  • Providing an opportunity for the kids to talk about problems: Similar to the gems that get shared, there are things that each kid may not want to bring up with either their sibling or the other parent present, but may be comfortable sharing in a smaller setting. For example, I learned about my daughter’s experience with a child in her class who tended to be unkind to her — something that had never come up around the dinner table.
  • Enjoying some quality bonding: Hanging out with our kids, while not trying to juggle multiple things and without having to worry about our other kid feeling slighted, has been a really fun and even relaxing experience that we’ve come to look forward to.

And in terms of staving off the who is the fastest/who has the most competitions? Well, it hasn’t reduced them by much. Nevertheless, we have found that our kids come away from our dates with some calm and confidence in themselves, knowing they are unique, loved and valued. So with that in mind, we are fine to let the games continue.

Article Author Jayani Perera
Jayani Perera

Jayani Perera loves to sing songs to her young children — to the wrong tunes, in an effort to simultaneously irritate and set them off in a tirade of giggles. Finding happiness in the day-to-day goes hand-in-hand with Jayani’s quest for balance after coming out of the new-mom fog that got thicker after her second child. A former foodie enthusiast, city event-chaser and lover of books, Jayani now fills free time mastering the Instant Pot, birthday party hopping and reading books that overuse the term “Pinkalicious” (one time is too much). And when she isn't doing any of the above, she keeps busy as a public relations consultant and a freelance writer. She is embracing this journey, with a loving spouse by her side, armed with humour, gratefulness and coffee, and trying to be mindful of the moments that matter.

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