I remember when I was a child still living in Miami, probably about eight or nine years old. My aunt was in the Army, and she would come to visit us a few times a year. What I remember most about her visits is that every time she came, she would take me away from my house, my mom, my life, and spend a quality hour or two just to talk to me. One memory sticks out vividly. She took me to a pond outside the Baptist Hospital in Miami, and we fed the ducks. We just talked—about me.

I had never had another adult so interested in me, one who looked me in the eyes and took the time to get on my level. I couldn’t verbalize it then, but she made me feel important and special. My Aunt Sandy continues to purpose her time in this way. We have had some amazing conversations over the years. She is a big reason I became a Christian and a homeschool mom. Because now I have no living parents, she is the closest thing I have to a mother. She has also purposed her time with each of my three children on every visit. I don’t know if they will appreciate this gift until they are older, but I do know we all love her! I don’t think she will ever fully know her impact on me.

Giving one-on-one time to my children occurred to me only a couple summers ago when one of my daughters mentioned that we rarely did anything together, just the two of us. We homeschool, so we are together a lot. Special alone time is not something I had purposed. It isn’t the same as being home all day with everyone. It is time set aside.

I decided to be intentional about our time. Over the last several summers, I have asked my girls what they would like to do for our one-on-one times. Not only is there anticipation—we both look forward to the time—but I can individualize what we do to each child. For example, my oldest girl and I love to go thrift store shopping. This kind of time wouldn’t be nearly as special with my middle daughter who does not love thrift stores.

The point is, you have about eighteen summers with your children, unless if you are mid-way through raising them. Purpose this time. Ask questions. Find out what makes your child tick. I promise you won’t regret it.

If you don’t spend one-on-one time with your children, you should!

Ideas to get started:

  1. Let your child choose the activity. Having the choice helps them to get excited about the time and helps you to discover what your child likes to do.
  2. Put it on your calendar.
  3. Don’t incorporate chores and errands into this time if you can help it. (True story: My “kill two birds with one stone” attitude left my daughter feeling less than special. She described it as time with “Brick, from The Middle.”)
  4. Vary the time frame. Rather than a day trip, or a night out, the time could be special bedtime routines or those thirty minutes in between appointments and school. It all counts.
  5. Make it a tradition. Do it monthly, quarterly, or during the summer every year. I have a friend whose husband takes a different child out for breakfast every Saturday.
  6. Pray that God would reveal the heart of your child. Ask them what they are struggling with.
  7. Pray with them. It is amazing how they will open-up to you.

The one-on-one time doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate. The point is the time spent only with each other, investing in each other. Lunches and meals out are good and easy to do; they also force you to sit across the table and look at each other and just simply talk.

Here are some ideas for simple one-on-one times you could do with your children. I have done most of these.

  • paint and/or decorate your child’s bedroom together
  • take short road trips
  • take college tour trips
  • spend time at a coffee shop
  • eat lunch at a special restaurant or one you haven’t tried
  • go thrift store shopping
  • get manicures
  • go mall walking and people watching
  • go to a movie and get a treat
  • ride bikes
  • do cloud watching
  • go picnicking
  • visit a museum
  • play a board game
  • have a slumber party for two
  • bake
  • go for a walk or hike, plan a 5K
  • get an inexpensive makeover, or do one yourself
  • get ice-cream!
  • attend a play
  • go fishing
  • give the child $20 to spend for your one-on-one time any way they wish
  • do a movie marathon at home
  • paint or do an artistic venture, such as painting pottery or building Legos™ together

Now it is your turn!

Christina Parker Brown is a momma of three, homeschooling since 2000, and the author of AKAHomeschoolMom.com and Alphabet Smash. Her work has been featured in Proverbs 31 magazine, The Old Schoolhouse magazine, Home Educator Family Times, GREENHOUSE and others. Christina’s passion is to encourage others to intentionally connect faith, family, and fun. She is a hopeless logophile and always brakes for yard sales. Her writing is inspired by her faith in Jesus Christ, adventures in NC with her adventure group and her twenty-four-year marriage to her best friend, Richard.