Solo Time – Making the Most of One-on-One with Your Kids

  by Erik Wolgemuth

Every once in a while, I get a reminder of the power of one-on-one time with my kids.

Almost as often, I come away from that time wondering why I don’t make the effort to make this sort of experience happen more frequently. The reality is that solo time with a child doesn’t have to be over the top. It can happen in the mundane – running errands, working on a project, washing the car, etc. Or perhaps it happens in more of a special way – a meal out together, doing something special (going to the driving range, a movie at the theatre), or even taking a trip together.

Regardless of what you do, there are a number of benefits that come from solo time with one of your kids. Here are a few tips to make the best of that time.  

1. Talk

There’s something about one on one time with a kid that brings out great conversation. Even if your child is on the younger side, treating them as an equal when it comes to conversation always brings out something rich. Such conversations are full of the hilarious, the absurd, and the surprisingly insightful. You’ll have a chance to hear what your kid is learning, who they’ve been spending time with, even deep questions that they’ve been thinking about. There’s a good chance that there will even be insightful questions coming back in your direction.

2. Laugh

Seems like nothing sticks in the memories of kids (and of their fathers) quite like laughter. Maybe you’ll laugh because you’ll tell each other some of your favorite jokes. Or maybe it’ll be because of that time you both participated in a live product demonstration at WalMart for the free giveaway only to discover that it was a terrible vegetable peeler (alas, guilty…but it never fails to kill us on how terrible and funny the whole experience was).

3. Break the Script

We’ve written previously about the unique joy that comes through moments to break the script with your kids. Solo time is a perfect opportunity for that. Sometimes just the solo time itself breaks the script for your kid, but there’s often ample opportunity in what you’re doing together (running errands, working on a project, etc.) to break the script even further. Maybe you turn the car wash into a full-scale water fight. Maybe that painting project involves you first painting crazy pictures all over the walls before they get rolled.

4. Provisions

Provisions are essentially breaking the script when it comes to edible treats. There’s something about an unexpected snack/treat/dessert that just takes a great time together to the next level. Maybe it’s stopping at that vending machine you always walk past on your way into Home Depot, or sharing a huge milkshake, or raiding the candy jar as you head out the door of the house – somehow the treat tastes better when it’s a provision.

The best thing about solo time with your kids is the equal enjoyment you get out of it. The fun and richness of the experience isn’t had by just your kid, there’s a sweet joy in it that will have you looking forward to the next time as well.


If you’re looking for conversation starters, here are a few specially tailored to dinner. If your solo time is going to be of the simple variety, don’t forget all the things you can do with just paper and pencil.

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Photo by Behzad Ghaffarian on Unsplash