We all want to have quality time with the kids, but what does that really mean? What makes one moment more important and meaningful than the other? What activities can create that elusive connection with a distracted toddler, or a belligerent teenager? And how do we know that the time we spent really made an impact?
Here are some parenting tips and parenting skills that help create real quality time with the kids. You may be surprised at what really matters—and how little it takes to create that special moment.
Parenting tip # 1: Quality time is one-on-one.
Quality time is any activity that makes a child feel that she is special and important to you. And for kids who are constantly competing for attention, just the fact that you say, ‘This time is just for you!’ makes all the difference in the world.
Schedule a one-on-one date with each child every two weeks. Yes, we know it’s a challenge for moms of large families. But there are many ways to make it work. Insert it into a routine activity, for example, after picking up one of your kids from soccer or ballet practice and pass by McDonald’s on the way home. Share a hobby with your child, like crafts or a sport. You can even start a movie or a book club with your teenagers, and start a conversation from what you watch or read together.
Parenting tip # 2: Quality time is interactive.
Real quality time gives you an insight on your child’s personality and feelings. SO even if you physically spend the whole day with your child, you may not be getting any real quality time at all, since you’re busy running errands or he’s parked in front of the TV. In fact, going to the arcade or the mall can’t even be considered quality time, since you’re too engrossed in what you’re doing that being together is almost incidental.
So here’s a parenting tip: when you want quality time, turn off all gadgets or anything invented in the last century, for that matter. Look for activities with a leisurely pace, which encourages conversation and eye contact. Make something together—bake cookies, paint, plant a seed.
Parenting tip # 3: Quality time is fun.
That sounds so basic that it shouldn’t even have to be said, but you’d be surprised at how quickly we forget this. Many ‘vacations’ turn out to be stressful itineraries and a mad rush to catch all the tourist spots. Many ‘father-son’ moments of playing baseball in the backyard turn into dreaded critiques: ‘You’re not catching the ball right. Pay attention! I told you not to…’ When you have quality time, you drop the rules and the standards, and just let the moment flow.
Parenting tip # 4: Quality time is consistent.
Kids need routines. It’s comforting to them to know that at a certain time every week they can enjoy time with you, whether it’s Family Friday Pizza Night or a bedtime story at the end of the day (read our recommendations for best bedtime books). Setting a consistent time also lets you take charge of your schedule. You know never to schedule a meeting after 3 pm on Friday, so you can leave the office early enough to have dinner with the kids.
Photo from boloji.com