Spending One-On-One Time with My Daughter: What I’ve Learned


I feel very fortunate to have a work schedule allowing me one consistent day off weekly. I use my day off to schedule appointments for myself and my two children, mow the lawn, catch up on laundry, clean the house, write a blog post, and run other errands. (But don’t be fooled by that list of tasks because my free afternoons sometimes turn into me reading a book, taking a nap, or scrolling through social media.) My favorite part of Thursdays is what my three-year-old daughter and I call “Muffins with Mom.” We drop off my 1.5-year-old son at daycare, and my daughter and I head to a breakfast joint or coffee shop and focus on spending one-on-one time together before her weekly gymnastics class. We’ve tried several local hot spots, including Caffé Buondí, Just Love Coffee Cafe, and Rosie’s Place. Admittedly, my daughter learned to recognize the Starbucks logo much earlier than I anticipated. She is always bummed when I order a coffee rather than our shareable go-to “pink drink.”

I knew that spending time just the two of us would benefit our mother-daughter relationship and hoped it would help her to feel special after her little brother was added to our family. Still, I couldn’t have anticipated the perspective I would gain from seeing the world through her eyes. As the months have gone on and the seasons have changed, I’ve loved seeing the types of things she notices. She enjoys talking to the servers, baristas, and other customers who may or may not be working on their laptops when she tries to get their attention. She recently started chatting with the barista about it being “super cold and snowy outside.” So, apparently, she’s learning the art of small talk.

I cherish hearing her talk about her days at school, including their letter of the week, animal of the week, books they have been reading, holidays they discuss and celebrate, and which of her friends is sick or on vacation that week. Here are some things my 3-year-old has said during our recent dates:

“Vultures pee on their legs.” She started this conversation by saying, “Now, let’s talk about dead animals.” I couldn’t suppress my laughter. Scientists say vultures urinate on themselves to cool off their legs while also killing bacteria. Ew, but cool.

“White people were not nice to black people, but black people are so nice!” I am beyond thrilled that her teachers took the time to discuss Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and other black activists with the children during MLK Day and Black History Month. I found that I wasn’t prepared enough to really add to that complex conversation with a toddler, so next time I’m hoping to be more educated and better equipped to lead that conversation.

“Please hand me my readers; I can’t see this book.” I can only assume that one of her teachers has reading glasses because my daughter later told me we were “pretembering” (a more adorable way of saying “pretending”) that she was the teacher and I was a student to whom she asked to bring her readers.

I love letting my toddler lead the conversation when we are spending one-on-one time together. Some weeks we have to cut our snack time short because we have appointments to make or errands to run, but even in those times, I enjoy watching her explore the world around us. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows (we still have the occasional “let’s go to the potty” struggle or “you said you didn’t want the coffee cake, so I ate it, but now you’re upset” incident that I dare never to repeat), but I know our one-on-one time is limited and something to be cherished. I hope we find ways to continue spending time together as she gets older, and eventually, I want to do the same with my son. Most of all, I hope always to remember to listen, ask questions, and engage with my children. They’re already teaching me so much, and I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to learn from them.