one on one

One-on-One Time for Kids with Dad

There’s not a dad among us who doesn’t find scheduling to be a challenge. We invest in our work, we invest in our commitments, and we run out of hours in a day. Time gets away from us to the extent that we feel overwhelmed, rushed, and a little bit out of control. Then we miss out on the best investment dads can make.

Sometimes, we end up missing school stuff, family time, and more. It happens too often. You know, those events and details that look like a small deal–until all of a sudden they’re a big deal. We’re stretched, we’re disconnected, and we see our children grow up too fast, slipping out of our reach before we know it. Consequently – and mostly because we’ve missed too many small details – we see our relationships with our kids become more reactive than proactive. Not all the time, but enough to remind us that we need to make a change.

Solution: What we need is to invest more time in our kids. Not so much random or haphazard encounters, but planned quality time. It’s about being intentional; it’s about investing in our kids. Breakfast with dad, walking the dog together, movie night, even an overnight trip. It’s about being deliberate; it’s about going one-on-one.

Here are some great ideas designed to keep us ahead of the curve with our children, custom crafted to help dads stay in the loop, and have some fun too. And don’t forget to write them on the calendar as a “don’t miss” appointment.

1. Dog walk with Dad:

Try making it a habit. Twenty minutes of one-on-one time for non-agenda conversation. Small talk. Building rapport. Got more than one kid? Share the schedule. Chances are this is something they’ll all look forward to. But be prepared. Real conversations could break out, so keep your phone in your pocket!

2. Breakfast with Dad:

Hook in with an All Pro Dad’s Day at their school or simply schedule one day per week as breakfast with dad day on the way in. Variations could include ice cream night with dad or Saturday brunch while mom sleeps in. The key here is undivided, one-on-one attention. No agenda, just time.

3. Museum of the Month:

No matter where you live, there’s some accessible culture, a state park, or a few historic sites within reach. Make exploring a go-to dad event. Let the kids be in on the research and planning. Be excited, Dad, even if you’re not naturally a museum or a history kind of a guy. It’s about the relationship.

4. Movie Night Madness:

Use your imagination. You could work a theme, such as, “The best sports movies in history.” “Classically awful monster films.” Or “Movies that dad loved as a kid.” Followed by movie analysis over a pizza.

It’s about being intentional; it’s about investing in our kids. The overriding, ironclad, “must not be broken” rule here is this: Give the kids 100% of your attention. Make “dad time” accessible and regular. [Tweet This] Remember: It’s the best investment dads can make.

Sound Off

What is your favorite one-on-one kid moment from the past month?

Derek Maul

Derek Maul is the author of five books, a nationally recognized men’s resource, a committed encourager, and a pilgrim in progress. He divides his time between writing and traveling to speak about the fully engaged life.

  • Victor Martin

    I personally do the “Cereal Bowl Talk”, just like in the picture, before bed. And the dos walk. We talk about random things. My little one has 6yrs, so we talk about the latest cartoon episode he saw, or what are his “plans” for tomorrow. You’ll be surprise with the things you’ll learn about his/her personality in this simple talks.

  • Great ideas. Thank you. One of the things my boys (all three teens now) and I love best is our yearly one-on-one birthday getaway. I’ve done this each year with each of them since their first birthdays. For the first nine years of their lives, it was a special day alone with dad doing whatever they wanted to do (and I planned). When my first son turned 10, he announced that the birthday getaway should now be two days since he was not “two digits” old. No argument from me. So now each of them get an overnight, two-day getaway with me very year. And we love it. So much bonding, discussion, and memory-making time. My seventeen-year-old and I are going away in two weeks. Can’t wait!

  • Cory Jensen

    I used to do dinner nights with each of my boys. My challenge lately has been twofold, first – making the time. Second, my waistline can’t take that much eating out. Time to get creative!

  • Love the article and ideas, but I disagree with the first line that states that every dad finds scheduling to be a challenge. I agree that most do, but we have learned that the word ‘no’ has freed my wife and I up to have an enormous amount of time with our three boys. Saying no to television, online forums and distractions, endless activities, and many other things that are considered normal has made large amounts of family time easy to do. I needed to learn that this was the most important thing to say yes to.

  • Derek, a couple things… First I like how open and vulnerable you were about how easy it is for us (dads) to gloss over time with our kids. It takes courage for us to admit that we’re out of control. I love the song by the Casting Crowns, “American Dream”. It’s a modern day “Cats and the Cradle”. Second, I like the direction you are taking this post. There are TONS and TONS of things to bond with our kids. You’re just trying to get the team off the sidelines and onto the field 🙂 Great work.

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