Connecting with Our Kids: How to do One-on-One Experiences

christian family stewardship christian parenting parenting Mar 10, 2024
one-on-one experiences with kids - how to plan

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4


One-on-one experiences with children can be as simple or elaborate as you want them to be. This means that the planning and execution of how to do one-on-one experiences with kids can be easy, challenging, or somewhere in between. Starting simple to get your feet wet is always wise, but upping your game and doing something that requires more intention can be especially fun as well. Here are some tricks of the trade that we’ve found helpful in preparing for and enjoying our one-on-one kid experiences.


1. The Right Foundation

We always start our planning process with prayer and gratitude, thanking God for our family and the experiences that He has blessed us with. We also ask Him to help us be wise and humble stewards of our trips and experiences and do our best to speak about them with our children as gifts and blessings rather than things we deserve. We want our children to understand how special and important these opportunities are and thank God for the opportunity and resources to grow together as a family this way.


2. Kid’s Choice

When a child has the chance to do something fun with a parent, it should be something that they truly enjoy or are interested in. Within limits, we like to allow our kids a good amount of say in what we plan to do during our one-on-one time. Sometimes the limits we place are monetary, and other times they’re geographic.

We’ve found it is helpful to have a list of options ready to choose from to help narrow down good ideas that are feasible when figuring out how to do one-on-one experiences with kids. Our kids love being a part of planning these outings – it adds a sense of ownership and excitement for the child.


3. Prioritize the Time

Once we set a trip, it is pretty much set in stone (emergencies notwithstanding). We choose how many days the trip will take for the experience to be well-paced and figure out when it best fits into our schedule. Then, we put it on the calendar, and the countdown begins!

If your family is like ours, you probably know that it probably won’t happen if we don’t plan for it, so we make sure that we keep our one-on-one trips with kids at high priority to avoid accidental double-booking.


4. Plan Together

Since our children mostly choose the what and where of their destinations, it also makes sense to include them in the trip’s day-to-day planning. We like to sit down with whoever’s turn it is and hammer out an itinerary: activities, restaurants, hotel reservations, and even backup plans if the weather throws us a curveball.

We also set a budget as a team, which helps our children understand the value of a dollar and the importance of picking and choosing the parts of the trip that are most important to them. This gives them hands-on experience in understanding the myriad of expenses going into the trip: transportation and gas money, lodging, meals, activities, souvenirs, etc.

We set a limit of how much we are willing to spend, estimate the price of necessities, and then decide how to spend the rest of our budget after that. As a side note, when learning how to plan one-on-one experiences with kids, remember that more expensive does not necessarily mean more meaningful. Less expensive trips like camping and fishing can provide incredibly valuable one-on-one time and be a lot of fun!


5. Helpful Packing

Our kids often love to pack for trips like this, but that doesn’t mean that they will think of all the appropriate clothing or gear they’ll need. We like to review the itinerary with them a week before the trip and help them come up with a list of what they’ll need to pack. This helps ensure that nothing is forgotten and last-minute shopping can be done if needed, but it still gives them the independence to get their own clothes and supplies together.

We also keep an eye on a weather app up until the day we leave in case we need to pack anything else last minute.


6. Consistency Breeds Regularity

When we were learning how to do one-on-one experiences with kids, we have found that choosing trips that occur around the same time each year is beneficial. It becomes a part of our family’s rhythm and makes us more effective at putting these trips into action. We tend to do a four-day trip around each child’s birthday and another shorter one about six months later. This keeps things evenly spaced and hard to forget! It also means that our kids know they can look forward to these experiences regularly.


7. More Than Conversation

When figuring out how to do one-on-one experiences with kids, it is easy to feel like you have to squeeze the most out of every single moment and have deep, meaningful conversations with your child as much as possible. We would like to advise against this common pitfall. Remember, conversation is only one way to show love to your child: Time spent in each other’s presence, laughing together, and the memories made will also have a long and lasting impact.

When the two of you do begin to chat, you can discuss deep, shallow, silly, or interesting topics. How is school going? What are they looking forward to in the next couple of months? How are sports? What book are they reading? What do they want to be when they grow up and why? Often, a quick question is enough to get a child talking. Being present and listening to them as they share their heart and mind with you is a vital part of loving them well.


In Our Home

In our family, we have three specific activities planned for one-on-one time with our kids, and each one is greatly anticipated:

Tuesday night dinner with Dad – Each child goes out with Derek on a Tuesday. With four kids, this means everyone gets a special Dad Dinner about once per month.
Half-birthday trips to Branson, MO – A three-day trip to one of our favorite towns, just Derek and one of the kids.
Birthday Destination Trip – This is the “big one” each year. We give our children several choices and they get to go for about four days. We have them choose from places like Great Wolf Lodge, Pigeon Forge, the Smoky Mountains, the beach, Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando, and New York City.


We love having dedicated, one-on-one time regularly with each of our children and have developed our own system for how to do one-on-one experiences with kids. They look forward to these times with much anticipation and great joy. We place them on our family calendar well in advance, and the kids do much of the planning with us. We also love reflecting on our past trips together and sharing memories. We hope that our children grow up savoring these memorable experiences and remembering the great blessings the Lord has given them.


Key Points:

  • It is important for the family to remember that any experiences or trips are a blessing and gift from God, and they should be properly stewarded when determining how to do one-on-one experiences with kids.
  • These experiences provide valuable, unique opportunities to connect with each child in ways that might not occur during the normal family routine.
  • While they require some work to coordinate, plan and find the time for, the benefits and blessings God provides through these experiences are well worth the effort both for the short and long-term welfare of family relationships.


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