How to get the most of a one-on-one date with your kid

When done correctly, taking a child on one-on-one dates is a magic bullet, filling all of your child's emotional needs at once. When you find you have drifted emotionally from your child, or vice versa — especially to the point of not feeling that you"like" each other very much — this is just what the doctor ordered.

Just as you would on a romantic date, choose something the child wants to do and make it a special trip for just the two of you. Here’s what you do:

1. Say to your child, “I want to take you on a date,” and set the date for sometime in the future. Make it clear this is just the two of you. No other siblings, no other parent, and

no friends. And, remember, impromptu trips to the ice cream shop after school are fun, but they are not one-on-one dates. Dates must be thought out in advanced, and preplanned. They are not about having time; they’re about making time.

2. Provide guidelines for the date, and then your child choose the activity. Discuss which days of the week are available, how much time you have for the date, and how much money you are willing to spend, if any. Although buying something may be part of the date, going somewhere just to buy a toy isn’t the best use of your time together. Let your kid know this is about doing something together other than shopping. Here are a few, Covid-friendly ideas:

  • Go swimming in a pool, lake or ocean

  • Ride bikes, roller skate, or scooter around the neighborhood

  • Pack a picnic lunch and take it to the park

  • Go on a hike or nature walk

  • Go out for ice cream

  • Support your child’s hobbies and interests

3. Schedule the date. Let your child put it on the calendar.

4. Do not cancel!

5. Be present and enjoy each other. Silence your cell phones and leave your problems at home — especially problems you might have with each other. If there is something serious you want to discuss, save it for later. This is about connecting, not correcting.