As my children have gotten older and grown more independent I’ve noticed we spend less time together one-on-one doing activities and playing games. I miss the time with the time with them. I also feel one-on-one time provides natural opportunities for conversations and bonding. I want to maintain a close relationship with my kids as they grow so I decided to make it a point to devote some time each day engaging in play with them one on one.
One on one time isn’t always easy to fit in between my work and other commitments and my kid’s playgroups, preschool, and other activities. But because it is so important, it is well worth the effort. I decided to commit to at least ten minutes a day of one-on-one time with each of my children. Ten minutes doesn’t sound like a lot but I’ve found the more achievable the goal, the more likely it is to actually happen. And of course, we spend more time together as our schedules allow.
This commitment to ten minutes a day has been an overwhelming success. We all feel closer to each other. We’re having fun together each day. And I genuinely look forward to the time with my kids as a bright spot in my day.
Since starting this goal of daily time together, I’ve come up with a list of go-to activities we can dive right into without a lot of time spent on preparation. Here are a few of my favorites you may enjoy trying with your children.
1. Read a Book
Reading a book together has been a favorite way to spend time with my kids since they were babies. It’s relaxing for us both and a great way to cuddle and enjoy some low-key entertainment together. Many books also include life lessons and can provide a natural way to open a discussion on topics you want to teach your child about.
If you’re dedicating ten minutes or so a day you can have your young child choose a picture book. Or read a chapter a day with an older child. This can also be a fun way to introduce your kids to some of your favorite books from childhood.
2. Read the Comics
I have wonderful memories from my childhood of my dad sitting with my sister and I every Sunday to read the Funnies in the newspaper. Comic books are also appealing to lots of kids with their familiar characters and action-packed storylines. If you have a reluctant reader this is a great way to show them the fun of reading.
Your one-on-one time with your child is a great time to show them how much fun educational activities can be.
3. Science Experiments
Does your child love science? Check out some of the easy and fun experiments you can do at home on our 40 Ideas for Winter Fun printable. Activities on the list are as simple as each taking an ice cube and seeing who can find ways to melt theirs the fastest.
Or think back to the science experiments you did when you were a child. Did you ever make a battery out of a potato? Or grow a sunflower seed in a cup? There are so many amazing things we can teach our kids with these simple activities. And it makes the time you spend with them fun and special for both of you.
4. Letters and Numbers
If your child has been working on letters or numbers, alphabet and counting games can be a lot of fun. You can even play an online game with your child. I love when my kids are having fun and learning new things at the same time.
5. Cooking, Baking and Making Treats
I’ve found children can help with cooking from a very young age. Most children can pour in pre-measured ingredients or help stir a mixture for a variety of baking projects by the age of two or three. With age appropriate supervision around heat or sharp utensils you can enjoy making treats and snacks together to share. Check out a few fun and simple kid-friendly snack recipes included at the bottom of our printable worksheet, 40 Ideas for Winter Fun.
When you’re struggling to find time to spend with your child after a full work day or busy evening of activities, include your child in your dinner preparations. Just like with baking, allow them to pour in ingredients or stir something. Even if all they can safely do is watch, you are still creating opportunities to connect and talk about your day with each other.
Arts and Crafts
There are nearly limitless possibilities when it comes to arts and crafts time with your kids. Here are a few ideas to get started.
6. Coloring and Drawing
Coloring and drawing are simple activities that are nearly always a hit with kids. There are coloring sheets available on the internet, including some fun ones in our list of printable worksheets. I also like finger paint or stamps to add variety. Having so many options makes it easy to vary the activities and keep things interesting.
7. Holiday Crafts
Any upcoming holiday or changing season can provide new craft ideas. At Easter, my daughter and I cut eggs out of colored construction paper and colored them. We also glued a collage of shapes to the eggs that we cut out of paper scraps. In the fall I like to do crafts involving leaves and changing colors. Our
Thanksgiving is coming up and presents some fun holiday themed craft ideas. My kids have made handprint turkeys in previous years with some paint and construction paper. We’ve also cut out and colored pilgrims and cornucopias and used them as decorations for the holiday.
8. Cutting and Glueing Projects
Cutting and gluing are great skills to practice during arts and crafts time to work on those fine motor skills. Try creating an underwater scene with our Scuba Jack Swimming Project or coloring and cutting out our Whale Sizing activity. You can talk to your kids about the picture they are creating or help them with theirs while together you make up a story about the characters.
Sensory play is a great way to enjoy some creative time with your child. Using all five of their senses to explore the world around them is a vital part of learning for kids of all ages. Have fun and get creative by exposing them to a variety of textures, smells, and colors while discovering how the two of you can build things together.
9. Play Dough or Sand
To start with something simple, you can make play dough and spend some time rolling it out or pretend baking with it. You can also build things out of molding clay or sand if you have some available.
10. Sensory Guessing Games
Another fun game I’ve played with my kids is putting a few things in a box with a hole in the top. Then have them stick a hand inside and guess what’s in there. They can use touch, sometimes smell, and even sound if rattling the box gives them some clues.
Physical Activities and Imaginative Play
My kids, like many children, constantly crave motion and an outlet for getting the wiggles out of their energetic little bodies. I like to incorporate active physical play into our time together frequently.
11. Go For a Walk or Bike Ride
When the weather allows I enjoy going for a walk or a bike ride with my kids. Outdoor walks are a great time to talk about the environment around you and to explore nature. It has the added benefit of getting you both a little exercise.
12. Tug Of War
My daughter and I have recently enjoyed playing a two-person game of tug-of-war. I tied a knot at each end of a long thin blanket to make it easier to hold on to. We sit facing each other on the floor, feet touching, and pull on our end of the knot. It’s simple fun and makes us both laugh.
13. Animal Walks
I’ve had fun inventing our own games at home as well. We like to play one we call animal walk where we try walking like different types of animals. You can teach your child to walk like a bear or a crab and move around the house. Or even race around the house if you’re flexible enough to get into some of those awkward positions and race. I’ve done it, but I found myself with a few sore muscles after bear-walking my way around the living room for ten minutes.
14. Dance Party
Family dance parties are another way to help get the wiggles out for young children and sneak in some exercise for mom and dad too.
15. Imaginative Play
Spending time with your child observing or participating in their imaginative play is a great way to learn about their interests and become a part of the things they love. Dress up like a pirate and defend your imaginary ship together. Or play princesses for a day. Or walk around like a dinosaur. Young children love to play pretend and chances are they will jump at the chance to bring you into their imaginary world.
If you’re willing to get creative and have some fun, there are limitless fun activities you can enjoy with your children in as little as ten minutes a day. Building in that ten minutes for your child into your day can have enormous positive impacts on your parent-child relationship. And will create fun memories for your child for the rest of their lives. I hope you are able to try out some of these ideas and start having some daily fun!
Elizabeth Voyles, Writer