One-on-One Times: Are They Important?


I got up early this morning. The house was quiet until our three cats, and one dog saw me. Meows and pitiful whines accompanied me to the kitchen. Apparently, our animals were on the edge of starvation. It’s just as well, I appeared.

Once I’d tossed food into each pet bowl, I filled the kettle. As I stood waiting for the water to boil, I heard a sound. My daughter Sophie was up. I placed her cup next to mine and made two cups of tea, and then carried them into the family room where I curled up on the sofa to check my mail.

Some time later, I realised Sophie hadn’t appeared. Had I made a mistake about her being up? Was she still in bed?

Two hours later:

“What happened to you this morning, Sophie?”

“I was awake in the night because of asthma. And then I slept in. I guess I was tired.”

Sophie and I quite often spend time together early in the morning, while everyone else is still asleep. We sip tea and chat, sharing ideas, enjoying each other’s company. I suppose we’re having one-on-one time.

Is spending time with just one child important? I think so, especially when there are lots of children in the family. It’s something I’ve always done. And when children leave home? And what if they’re married? Even then, we still have our one-on-one times.

My adult son Callum arrives in his super-charged car to take me to town to have coffee. We fly along the highway, and we’re chatting even before we reach the cafe: “What do you think, Mum? Doesn’t my engine sound good?”

Once we’re settled at a table with our coffee in front of us, I say, “How’s life, Callum? What have you been doing?” And soon my son is sharing the latest installment in his story of hopes and dreams.

I missed chatting with Sophie this morning. But I can always talk with her while we walk the dog this afternoon. That’s another good one-on-one time of day. As Nora charges along the bush tracks, her sniffy nose parallel to the ground, my 14-year-old daughter shares all her latest ideas. And I listen, adding a comment here and there.

We’ll need our umbrellas for today’s walk. It’s raining again. I don’t suppose Nora will want to go out in the wet. But once she’s trotting along a muddy track and jumping over puddles, sniffing the delicious earthy damp air, she’ll forget she wanted to stay at home. Sophie and I won’t even notice the rain. We’ll be too busy talking. So much to say.

So what do you think? Are one-on-one times important? Do you have them with each of your children? And if you do, where do you go and what do you do?

And do you have a dog that whines to come in out of the rain? Or a cat that meows each morning as if you haven’t fed him for days? I’d love to know!

Video Update

I spoke with my adult daughter Imogen about one-on-one times.


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  1. Reply

    I have always cherished one on one times with each of my kids, and even though they're now grown (and one is married), I still like to have times when I can chat with them uninterrupted. When they were young (preteen and teen), I made loved sharing activities together … like going to a bookstore, or for a walk. It is a such blessing for both parent and child. And as you know, some of the best conversations start with a young person saying (casually, often in the midst of such times) "oh … by the way….." !

    1. Reply


      A blessing for both parent and child? Oh yes! I treasure one-on-one times. Your comment made me think that when we are in the habit of spending special time with our kids, they are more inclined to open up and share whatever's on their minds during such times. "Oh.. by the way…" I've heard those words too! Being able to really talk with each other is good!

  2. Reply

    Yes, one on one time is very important in our family, particularly as our family has grown and it's often hard to get a word in.
    We do all sorts of things, take one child to the cinema, out for a cafe treat, even just a walk or bike ride with just one parent and one child. Occasionally my husband will take one on a night away for fishing. This year I'm taking Gemma to The Sound of Music on stage (she doesn't know yet, it's a surprise!) They love the individual attention.

    Yes to the whining animals too, our kitten almost dies of starvation several times a day 🙂

    1. Reply


      Yes, family life can get busy and noisy and we can miss things if we're not careful.

      Oh, I do like the sound of your trip to see 'The Sound of Music'. Gemma is going to be very excited!

      My kids love the individual attention too, but they're also generous when it comes to their siblings' one-on-one times. I imagine your kids are the same. Your other children will be happy for Gemma even if they aren't included in the invitation.

      Aren't pets pathetic? Haven't they realised that food arrives regularly every day without fail? I suppose they wouldn't mind it arriving a bit more frequently!

  3. Reply

    I have an only child and despite that, he regularly asks for one on one times, without my partner (who is not his father). What he likes the most is eating out, and I do enjoy that with him. He's 9 and I love seeing how he shares things when we're one on one. We sometimes just pic-nic in his bedroom too ! And we have a dog that is really reluctant to go out when it sees the rain and cold, but that is really jumping all around when we're out because she loves so much walking with us !

    1. Reply


      Oh yes, I can see that one-on-one times are important for ALL children. It doesn't matter if they have lots of siblings or none at all. There is something very special about having someone all to ourselves for a time.

      I do like you idea of picnicking in your son's bedroom. It reminds me of how sometimes we do things at the 'wrong' time or in the 'wrong' place or in the 'wrong' order. For example, we might have a back-to-front meal eating our dessert before the main course. It keeps life fun and interesting!

      Your dog sounds just like ours!

  4. Reply

    Those poor pets ;-). One on one time, yes it is important but it is hard for me to do as I would like when I am stretched thin, so I try and do my best each day 🙂

    Loved your list of goals, my you are going to fm gave a busy year :-). I will be cheering you on from the side lines xx

    1. Reply


      I can really understand about feeling stretched thin. One more thing to do. Simple things might work though. Perhaps you can have some one-on-one time at home. Benedict could make you something special to eat and then you could chat together while you're enjoying it. Even sharing a hot chocolate is enough. I suppose the main thing with one-on-one time is giving each other our full attention for a short while. What we do is of secondary importance.

      I love knowing you're there on the sidelines! Thank you. I'll be following along with your family adventures too. Sending lots of love to everyone. xxx

  5. Reply

    This is funny, I just had a friend ask me if I have one on one time with my kids! I do, and I love it! For me the key is seeing what is important to each child.

    For Leena, it is taking time to binge watch all her videos with her running commentary. Maybe that doesn't count, since the other kids wanted to watch, too, but she was the star, and she had my undivided attention. Sometimes it's hard for me to stop everything and give truly undivided attention!

    With Klenda, it's easy because I take her driving (we're almost half way through the 60 hours)- that's a great time to talk. With Zorg he wants to play games or get back rubs, with Mxyl , he wants to talk philosophy late at night. Choclo and Oob are easy, they love everything from games to walks to snuggles. I guess everyone still likes snuggles!

    No dogs or cats, but the parakeets (budgies) will "yell" at us if they want anything. The fish are quiet,although, if I walk near the tank, they flash silver and race to the surface. My favorite piece of vet advice was given to a small child: fish always look hungry. :))

    1. Reply


      Yes, different kids like to spend one-on-one time in different ways. "For me the key is seeing what is important to each child." I hadn't thought about that, but it's so true!

      There's certainly lots of time to talk when a child is learning to drive! My children love snuggling too. Everyone still likes to snuggle. Yes!

      It seems all pets can look hungry even if they're fed regularly. I love watching fish dart through the water. I am imagining your fish flashing silver and racing to the surface of the water. A lovely sight!

    • May
    • January 10, 2016

    It's such an important part of relationships – it's why adults have date nights, and it's why I advise the families I work with to focus on giving positive, concentrated attention to their toddlers to discourage poor behaviour as an attention-seeking strategy.

    Sometimes I think my cat is yowling in mock starvation but she's really looking for snuggles. Turns out even cats need one to one time!

    1. Reply


      Oh yes, I do agree about adults and date nights. My husband and I don't do anything exciting when we go out together, but we do need that time alone to talk and just be with each other.

      Your work must be very rewarding though maybe it's not easy at times. Helping people can be very emotionally involving and takes lots of energy. But it's a good thing to do!

      I hadn't thought about a pet's need for one-on-one time. Now you've mentioned it, I can see that can be true. One of our cats in particular does enjoy her snuggle times!

      Thank you so much for stopping by to share!

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