One Day Only Sale

Kay Bolden
Category Advice

When I was a little girl, my mother took me to the theatre every year to see A Christmas Carol. After the performance, we would have an early dinner at some elegant restaurant, then stroll downtown to see the Christmas decorations. It was always girls only -- my brothers were never invited. As a single mother, I could rarely afford that kind of treat when my children were small. I did, however, love the idea and tradition of giving one day to each child -- during every season, not just the holidays. This tradition had the unexpected benefit of reducing the gimmes in our household; since each child got equal opportunity, there was less squabbling over daily inequalities - like who got more french fries, and who got more computer time. The One Day Only Sale - as it came to be called by my mall-loving daughter - works like this: You and the child spend one day together with no distractions, on an activity you both enjoy, or at least both are willing to try. Don't drag him to an art gallery if he hates that kind of thing, and don't agree to a wrestling competition if it makes you nauseous. Schedule your days to coincide with the changing of the seasons. Every spring, summer, fall and winter, you schedule a date with each child, one child at a time. It must be engaged time - no letting your pre-teen play video games at the arcade while you read a novel. Unless your budget is generous, it should not be expensive. Here are some things we have tried over the years:


  • College football game, followed by dinner and a movie
  • Museums, art galleries, free concerts
  • Theatre productions at colleges and high schools
  • 1-day workshops on meditation, tai chi, computers, water aerobics, belly dancing, and Italian cooking
  • Nature hike with bird watching
  • Working on a book on our family history
  • Bowling, roller skating, ice skating, snowboarding
  • Ski lesson
  • Scuba lesson
  • Building a snow fort in the back yard
  • Going to as many flea markets in one day as is humanly possible
  • Book signing by a favorite author
  • Sleigh ride or hay ride, depending on the season

A neighbor of mine travels often with her son. On their One Day Only, they often spend the day planning a vacation -visiting travel agencies, collecting brochures, picking up guidebooks and language tapes at the library, deciding on a budget, shopping (not buying) at the luggage outlet store, lunch at an ethnic restaurant. Another dad we know got his daughter interested in auto repair. Last year they spent their day overhauling a transmission.My kids still compete and compare, but instead of a full-fledged battle, I often hear "Just you WAIT until my next One Day Only!"

About The Author:

© 2002 Kay Bolden


Kay Bolden publishes a free e-zine for nontraditional families, http:///, and is the author of Think Outside the Minivan: A Guide for Traveling with Kids. Email her at or visit her website,


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November 4, 20070 found this helpful

This is a very novel idea---one you don't hear much of anymore. It's too late for my kids---they are all grown, but boy do I have the grandkids---18, at this point. It's a thought that I might just do something with! Thanks for sharing the idea! Annie

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Parenting General Parenting AdviceJuly 23, 2002
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