One-On-One Outings

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When you have just one child, it is pretty easy to have one-on-one time with the child –it would be hard not to! As you add children to your family, it gets harder.

My husband and I like to have a special one-on-one activity with each child each month. This isn’t something we are always perfect about; it is easy for life to run away from you. This year, we really want to make sure we have this as part of our monthly routine.

We will take the child and go out of the house and do something special with that child. The amount of money we spend ranges from nothing to a significant amount (for one outing). We like to do things that are of interest to that one child. You definitely don’t need to spend any money to do this.

Here are our ten favorite ideas to date. Please do add some of yours! One note, we don’t yet take McKenna out to do this. She doesn’t need the extra attention as a baby; she pretty much soaks up all attention when she is awake and about!

  • Fun Events: This month will mark the second time we have spent a significant amount of money on an outing. Last year, Brayden and I went to a Thomas and Friends musical. This month, my husband and Brayden are going to a Monster Truck Rally. Other ideas might include the circus, children’s music concerts, or Disney on Ice. If you have an event center close to you, this might be something fun to do every so often.
  • Movie: Brayden has been to one movie in his lifetime. He and my husband went one time last year. He loved it.
  • Sporting Events: You can go to professional, minors, college, or even high school sporting events.
  • Music Concerts: Kaitlyn really loves bands and orchestras. She and I once went to a band performance and she loved it.
  • Hike or Walk: Going for a hike or walk is a fun way to get some special time with your child. You can let your child walk and not really have a destination in mind. Collect items and just talk.
  • Library or Book Store: All of my kids love books, but Kaitlyn seems to have an obsession with them. It isn’t surprising because she has an amazing aptitude for language. Shortly after McKenna was born, I took Kaitlyn to our local bookstore. We looked through the books and she choose two books to buy. Children’s books don’t cost much (plus I had a coupon!), so it is an inexpensive activity. The library would be free. But I liked the book store because Kaitlyn still keeps those two books on her nightstand and looks at them each day. They serve as a reminder of our fun day together.
  • Sports Activity: Go play catch together, go fishing, fly a kite, go miniature golfing, go bowling, go for a bike ride, etc.
  • The Park: Go to the park and play with your child. Just remember that the point of this activity is to have fun with your child one-on-one, so try to go when it can be the two of you playing without other friends (yours or his).
  • Museums/Land Marks/Buildings: Go to a child-friendly museum, land mark, or building that is significant. One day, Brayden and I went to the Temple where my husband and I were married. This was his favorite thing he and I have done together (even more than the Thomas event–and this was free!). Most communities have buildings with stories and history that are significant. Seek them out and visit with your child.
  • Go to Dinner/Dessert: One time, Brayden and I went out to dinner. It was really fun. He was a different boy when it was just him and me. He was just more mature and we had a great time. When you get your children alone, you get to know them as individuals without the influences of the siblings.

If you cannot leave your house, you can try to do things at home. If you can get out, though, I think that is best. It gets both of you away from your distractions: toys, computers, TVs, people stopping by, other family members, etc. It is just the two of you.

Your goal in doing this is to spend some fun time with your child and get to know each other better as individuals. Have fun.

This is not a replacement for regular one-on-one time at home. That is another post :). Also, running errnads does not count! That is fine to take your child along, but while running errands, you are not focusing on the child. These are special bonding times. My husband and I go back and forth on exactly how to organize this. We sometimes think we should each go out with each child each month, others times we think that might be impossible so we think we should do each with one, then switch which child the next month. With three children soon to be in the mix, it will make the organization trickier. Once we finally decide on what we like best (if we do!), I will let you know.

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Kaiser
    January 8, 2010 / 7:13 PM

    Similar to going out to eat…I like to take my 3-year-old to the donut or bagel store. We pick out our favorite treats and color picures while eating.

  2. Nikki
    January 9, 2010 / 4:37 PM

    Love the ideas, Valerie! I took our 2.5 yr old out on a "date" to the local pet store. She was thrilled to get to hold & play with a puppy and see all the critters. Afterward we picked out a book to buy and had hot chocolate or "coffee" as she likes to call it at Barnes N Noble. She beamed the whole time! I was trying to think of things to do with her and this article is a great resource!

  3. Erin Charles
    January 10, 2010 / 1:55 PM

    Friday night was mine and Carol's (19mo) First actual date night. It was such a special time! I took her to my favorite coffee shop for live Jazz and cookies. She loves music, so to see the instruments up close was amazing for her. She also enjoyed dancing around the shop!I think i only spent like 5$ and that was for MY enjoyment.

  4. Stephanie Rawlins
    January 10, 2010 / 8:31 PM

    Great ideas! I have a 2.5 year old and a 14 month old. What age do you recommend starting dates with the kids?

  5. Ticia
    January 10, 2010 / 9:07 PM

    We have 3 kids right now, and are lucky enough to have a grandma near-by. Our solution to this was to have Grandma take one of the children once a month, and we alternate around who has which child.

  6. Victoria
    January 10, 2010 / 9:15 PM

    This might seem obvious, but don't forget the earplugs when your son goes to the monster truck rally. My husband & I went once and it was SO loud–with no earplugs to be found. And I love the idea of special dates with each child. God bless!

  7. Plowmanators
    January 21, 2010 / 11:16 PM

    Thanks everyone for your added ideas!

  8. Plowmanators
    January 21, 2010 / 11:21 PM

    Stephanie, Your 2.5 year old is definitely old enough. I think with Kaitlyn, we didn't really start taking her places for it until she was about two. I don't think you shouldn't, we just didn't. She was content enough with time with mom or dad at home while others were gone. She probably would still be content at home, but it is fun to make it special now that she is older.

  9. Plowmanators
    January 21, 2010 / 11:22 PM

    Ticia, that is a great idea. We could do that!

  10. Plowmanators
    January 21, 2010 / 11:23 PM

    Victoria, the definitely took earplugs. That is strange they didn't sell them there when you went! Silly for them to miss an opportunity to charge $5 for something that cost 5 cents 😉

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