Carving out consistent one-on-one time with your kids is one of the best ways to stay in your child’s life. Your child wants a unique connection to you. They want to feel uniquely understood and valued. One-on-one time creates space for this to happen.

Now, if you knew me, you’d know that I’m by nature a planner. And it’s true that twice a year I set aside time to evaluate my family calendar. I try to plan some of these one-on-one times with my kids. But the truth is, that kids are more spontaneous than planned. They are less likely to fit perfectly on your calendar. The secret is creating space so that you are available when opportunities arise AND being aware of the opportunities that you already have.

Here are a few ways that I’ve carved out one-on-one time with my kids:

1. Look at your everyday routines.
My youngest daughter likes to cook. Many times she asks to help when I’m making dinner or baking something. This has the potential to be a rushed, hectic time in our home. But if I look at this as time with her, I slow it down and we have fun.

2. Capitalize on your time in the car.
Gary and I have both taken different kids with us when we had short trips away. There’s something about long drives to bring out the most interesting discussions with your kids.

Driving them to piano practice, sleep-overs, and orthodontist appointments are a few other great “listening” times.

3. Get involved in their activities.
One of my girls swims on a swim team. This involves early morning practices and long hours sitting at a swim meets. But it also gives us good talking time. We sit in lawn chairs, and bake in the sun, and hang out. I love it!

4. Plan a special trip.
On a special birthday or holiday, take your child on a campout or a trip to a fun city. Focused time together away from the normal routine allows you to create great memories and gives you great uninterrupted time together.

5. Take them out to eat.
Everyone has to eat, and it’s especially appealing when you’re buying!

6. Go school shopping with them.
Instead of taking everyone on an exhausting trip to the mall, spread it out. Take each child alone. Go to lunch. Have fun together!

7. Be willing to put down what you’re doing.
At least one night a week, one of my kids jumps on my bed and starts talking. Sometimes I’m right in the middle of my favorite TV show or reading a book. Sometimes I might even be working. Make it your rule that when you’re home, you’re willing to put down what you’re doing to connect on their time.

8. Plan things that only the two of you do together.
There was a time when one of my girls always went with me when I washed the car. There was another season where one of them always went with me to shop for groceries on Sunday night. Even routine things can be a great way to connect.

So how about you? What do you do to carve out one-on-one time with your kids?

We are honored to have Kendra Fleming, a dear friend, guest post on our blog. Kendra is the Director of Children’s Ministry at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA. She lives in Cumming, GA with her husband Gary and their four children, Jessica (19), Catherine(18), Jack(15), and Emily(13).