What does quality time with your child even mean? With our busy schedules, the best a lot of us can manage is driving to school, a family mealtime, and a bedtime story. These things become routine and routines that happen every day could be considered “quantity time,” but the memories that last forever are the quality moments that really connect. You need to figure out how to make this happen before it’s too late.
Did you know that there are fewer than 1,000 Saturdays between the time your child is born and the time they leave for college? For those of us who work during the week, those are the chances you have to spend quality time with your child. If there’s a silver lining with the coronavirus lockdown, it’s that this number might be a little bigger with everyone at home right now.
Don’t let this time go to waste. Use these tips to start spending quality time with your child today so that you form a better relationship with them that lasts your entire life.
1. Live in the moment
No matter how much time you spend with your child, do you feel like you still don’t know them? The problem may be your attention. When you’re with your children, are you also thinking about work, or school, or your relationship, or your finances?
These things are very important in your life. However, if you aren’t focused on the here and now, the time you spend with your child will never become quality time.
When they talk to you, you need to listen. Listen to their little dreams and observations and goals. Tell them about what you’re feeling and thinking. Watch them walk and play and take it in – that’s a moment you get to keep, and that you don’t want to miss.
None of the other tips we give you will matter if you go out of your way to spend time with your children, but don’t have the right mindset to make it true quality time.
2. Think of them often
This is something you can do to make quality time appear out of thin air, something for the busiest parents to make their child feel like they’re wanted and cared for. Even if you don’t have time to engage in activities with them, you can still leave notes on the fridge and in lunchboxes. You can still text them to have a good day and let them know you’re thinking about them.
Parents who are in a hurry in the morning, whose kids get up alone and catch the bus, are probably scared that they aren’t spending enough quality time with their child. Yet, just letting them know that you’re thinking of them can be a huge benefit. Make a nice breakfast for them and leave it on the table with a note.
It may not seem like much, but Ministries of Education all over the world agree that it’s plenty to tide you over until you can spend more direct time with them.
3. Cater to their tastes
This isn’t something you should go overboard with, but it’s not out of the question either. Making fun foods that your kids love can help you connect with them. It doesn’t have to be something extravagant, though bakers will have a field day with this tip.
Southern parents could consider cool sundaes on a hot evening, while Northern parents could break out the hot cocoa. For kids, these sugary treats are like magic – telling them that it’s okay to eat them, eating with them, and even letting them help you prepare them makes you culpable in that magic. Pretty clever, huh.
I’ll give you an example from my own life. A grandma that’s long gone used to be pretty distant from us kids. I never really felt like I knew her. However, on cold evenings, we used to bake apples in the oven with cinnamon. To this day, I think of those apples and I think of her. It may not seem like much at the time, but a little treat can give your child something to remember for a long time.
4. The importance of reading
For those with a lot of free time, especially during the lockdown, reading is both one of the best sources of quality time with your child and one of the least utilized. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, parents of children in all age brackets spend on average less than 10 minutes a day reading with their children. It’s simply not a common practice anymore.
Particularly for young children, this is an indispensable source of quality time that you should take advantage of. Reading not only has many psychological benefits, but it’s a unique opportunity to share time with children doing what they do best: playing pretend.
5. Do things together
This includes everything. This tip is based on the concept that spending quality time with your child starts with just simply spending time with them. With the right attention and awareness that we talked about earlier, even mundane things can become quality time. Even taking a drive with a small baby can become quality time. Just make sure you have the right seat for them first (for some options in baby car seats, read more here).
If you have to fix something in the house, ask your son or daughter to help you (if they ask you themselves, definitely say yes!). If they like certain games, get involved in them on your own downtime. Learn their board and video games; give yourself something to talk to them about.
If you can connect to their hobbies, that’s one more thing you could do together.
If you’re wondering how to spend quality time with your child, these tips are a good starting point. Quality time starts with your awareness – you have to be ready for the time to be quality time. That means listening to your child, engaging in their activities, clearing your mind of other responsibilities, and enjoying the little things.
If you can do that, then the only thing stopping you is picking activities and finding the time. Use this list to get as much quality time with your child as you can during the lockdown. You don’t want to miss it.