Spending quality time with your child has more to do with ordinary daily life than what you might initially expect. It’s simple and meaningful interactions, such as bedtime stories and family dinners, that are essential for your child’s development and future relationships.
As a parent, you’re preparing your kids for academic success and rewarding careers. You’re also helping to set the patterns for their adult friendships and romances.
Even if you feel like you’re short on time and juggling multiple responsibilities at home and/or the office, you may be surprised at how many opportunities there are to incorporate quality time into your daily routines. Start with these practical ideas.
Keep these things in mind when it comes to spending quality time with your child:
1. Be authentic. Do you feel a little guilty when you see Facebook posts from parents who take their children on exotic vacations or treat them to expensive hobbies? Instead of making comparisons, it’s more constructive to focus on activities that suit your family budget and lifestyle. Kids enjoy and appreciate family activities that are simple and they don’t have to be extravagant.
2. Pay attention. Let your child know how much you care about them. Listen carefully to what they have to say. When you’re together, try to be fully present instead of looking at your phone or thinking about your to-do list. Those things will always be there, and watching your child grow up happens quickly.
3. Show appreciation. Give your child plenty of praise and positive reinforcement. Congratulate them when they raise their grades in a subject that has been particularly challenging for them. Thank your child for being patient with their younger siblings or for setting the table without being asked.
4. Discover your child’s interests. Find out what they like to do so that you can participate as well. You may both enjoy playing video games or listening to classic rock music, for instance. Be open to trying something new together that you just might find you both enjoy.
5. Make updates as needed. Remember that your child’s needs will change over time. As they grow from a toddler into a teenager, they expect more independence, but they’ll probably still welcome an invitation to practice driving or watch a favorite sport together.
6. Remain available. Quality time can happen anywhere and at any time. You’re bound to find promising opportunities as long as you make yourself approachable and accessible to your child.
Following are some practical examples of quality time:
1. Eat family meals. Dine together as often as possible. If you run into frequent conflicts with weekday dinners, try gathering for breakfast or catching up on weekends.
2. Share chores. Ask your children to join you, whether you’re shopping for groceries or organizing the garage. You’ll have a chance to talk, and they’ll learn valuable life skills along the way.
4. Travel together. Whether it’s a family vacation or driving to soccer practice, both provide time to talk while you’re on your way to your destination. Check in with each other and let the conversation flow naturally.
5. Volunteer as a family. Helping others can draw you closer to your children. Support a cause you both care about. Browse the internet with your child for a local volunteer agency where you can explore your options.
6. Take pictures. Face to face communications are the most significant but sharing pictures can help you stay in touch too. Send each other funny or moving images you come across during your day. Build an album you can look through together.
7. Connect daily. Even if you work outside of the home and see your child for only a few hours most days, quality time pays off as long as you’re consistent. Make it a habit of chatting for about 15 minutes when you arrive home or before you go to bed.
Use the quality time to build a positive relationship with your child and give them a solid foundation for becoming a happy and productive adult. Savor the moments you spend together and create memories you will both cherish.