Should you spend one-on-one time with your kids?

Is ‘dating’ your kids to get a little one-on-one time together a good idea, or is the benefit negligible? By Lisa Witepski

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If you have more than one child, you may agree that one of the hardest things to get used to is having less time to spend with each of your little ones. The hours you spent gazing in wonder at your firstborn certainly aren’t going to come around again, and it’s easy to feel sad, guilty, and maybe even resentful about the loss of that connection. On the other hand, the lack of that one-on-one time with your youngest is upsetting, too. So, what’s a mom to do?

ALSO SEE: 5 things to consider before having a third child

We asked some moms how they felt about taking their kids on dates so they get to spend a little more one-on-one time together. Here’s what they had to say.

  • “This is so important; I love doing it. We tend to follow a bit of a pattern: movies and sushi with my seven-year-old; my five-year-old doesn’t mind what we do as long as he’s spending time with me, and it’s ice cream with my three-year-old.” – Janita
  • “I ‘date’ my five-year- old often because my two-year-old is so demanding. We go for outings like the movies or museums, or sometimes he wants to have lunch at a ‘grownup’ restaurant. For a special outing we’ll go on the City Bus Tour or spend the day at Gold Reef City.” – Natalie
  • “My youngest (3) gets a lot of attention, so it’s crucial that my boy (6) gets me to himself sometimes. We do things like paint together or ride bikes.” – Christina
  • “We made a conscious decision not to do this. We are a family and we do things together. My almost four-year-old doesn’t actually ever want to leave his one-year-old brother behind. I think it builds strong sibling bonds.” – Aimee
  • “I think it is a lovely idea. While it is great to have time as a family and share, I think it’s also great to have one-on-one time. My husband does this with my daughter, and I also take her out for tea or ice cream and books after school – although it doesn’t really feel any different because I’m with her all the time anyway. That will probably change once I’ve had my new baby. When they get older (I’m not sure what age), I would like to take a solo trip with each. It doesn’t have to be for long or far away.” – Lina

What the expert says

Dr Ken Resnick, educational psychologist and family negotiator, believes that dates with your kids aren’t actually important. In fact, he says they might detract from your real work as a parent, which is to let your child experience their world in its entirety – challenges and all. And, yes, that may mean dealing with the fallout of losing time with you to a demanding sibling. “Parenting is about equipping kids with the skills they need to navigate their worlds, and the best way you can do this is by teaching them how to be independent. That means letting them spend time away from you, so that they learn how to entertain themselves without relying on you. That’s the basis of real grit and resilience.”

More about the expert:

Dr Ken Resnick is a registered educational psychologist and developer of the SmartChoiceParenting programme. Read more about Dr Resnick here

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