In our rushed and stressed lives, time has emerged to be the most valuable commodity as we tend to use most of our time working hard to provide for our homes and family. Now, with many more cases of both partners working than ever before, the amount of time parents can dedicate to their children is decreasing by the day. Before working parents plunge into a pool of guilt, they should remember that even a stay-at-home parent may not be spending very much quality time with a child.
Quality time can be very simply defined as meaningful time spent nurturing a child and communicating freely with him or her. This is the time when parents can bond most meaningfully with their children, while also creating happy childhood memories. Both working and stay-at-home parents need to make the effort to create some quality time with kids and help them grow into happy, confident and responsible adults.
Robin Age suggests 10 easy ways to find and create that elusive quality time:
Mobile free car time: Put away your cell phone and its handsfree unit when driving your kids to and from school or hobby classes or a friend's house. Use that commuting time to talk, talk and talk. You may have to ask leading questions as not all children find it easy to articulate words to describe their day or their feelings. But giving them the opportunity to air their thoughts is very important and makes them feel involved. One mother asks her son to read out passages from inspirational books for kids, as she drives him to school every morning. They then discuss its message and meaning and find this to be the most stimulating start to their day.
Hug Time: No matter how busy you may be, there is always time for a few hugs. Hugging your children makes them feel special and cared for and can lift their spirits if they are anxious or upset. Sometimes a hug can be the most effective way to quella tantrum-in-the-making.
Get Sporty: Getting involved in your children's favourite sports helps both kids and parents. For children,it helps them become confident, healthy and tough - physically and mentally. It also teaches them how to co-operate with other children. Having their parents join in the sport makes children feel that parents appreciate their interests.
Homework help: Whether it's preparing for a weekly test, checking the school schedule or teaching a few mathematical equations, helping with homework provides a great opportunity for quality time. Children love the personal attention and you get to keep up with what they are doing in school as well.
Odd jobs and chores: Children love to help in chores around the house so make sure you involve them in small jobs that are age appropriate. In fact experts recommend that as kids grow, they should have household chores as part of their daily routine. Bonding over setting the table or putting away dishes is an experience you both are sure to enjoy and look forward to. In addition, it helps children understand how hard parents work and creates a sense of respect for all kinds of jobs.
Hobby routine: Spending time together working on a hobby is a great way to bond. Enjoying a hobby needn't be a lavish exercise. It could be something as simple as playing jigsaw puzzles, solving crosswords, walking in the park or trying to do some artwork together.
Nature trips: Going hiking, walking through a forest trail or just sitting around the campfire telling stories is a great way to appreciate nature and also spend quality time with children. Sometimes just a different setting and a relaxed ambience helps children open up and share feelings they may find difficult to express in the regular home routine. Ask your kids to plan the trip to suit their likes while you oversee their planning. This will make them feel very special.
Mealtimes: A great opportunity for the entire family to spend time together, meaningfully. Try and make eating at least one meal together a strict rule and use that time to catch up on each other's day. This gives children a comfortable platform to express their feelings - to tell you if something went wrong, or update you aboutwhatever went well.That is your cue to appreciate their efforts. When children are acknowledged for their hard work and the tasks they finish, it motivates them to do more.
One-on-one 'dates': If you have more than one child, make arrangements to keep one occupied - with the grandparents, at a friend's house or at a hobby/sports class. Take the other child for a quiet meal or milkshake and let her decide where to go. To a child who has to share you with a sibling all the time, even an hour of your undivided attention means a lot.
Be available: Your children should be secure in knowing that you are only a phone call away at all times. Of course you will have to set the ground rules for calling you at work, but try to take their calls even if just to say you will call back later. Your coming on the line for even that brief conversation means a great deal to a child.
More than effort, you need imagination to create pockets of quality time in an otherwise packed routine, but it is quite easily possible and will pay rich dividends as your child grows up feeling secure, loved and happy.