How to Spend More Quality Time With Your Kids
If you’re like me you try to squeeze every second out of every day. The problem with our over scheduled lives is the first thing we tend to leave out of the family schedule is one-on-one time with our kids. I debated entitling this post Free Quality Time With Your Kids or 10 Minutes A Day To More Quality Time With Your Kids, but, that gave me the yucky infomercial feel (and my abs are no flatter no matter how many videos I buy). The truth is my tips are all about Quality Not Quantity and they do take less than 20 minutes. Maybe there is an infomercial in my future!?!
Here are tips on how I get more one-on-one quality time with my kids throughout the day.
As a mom you’re a professional chauffer. My advice while you’re jetting around town dropping the kids off to their many destinations is to take off your bluetooth. Use this time to connect with either some insightful conversation, storytelling or singing. My tween daughters especially love to play for me their newest favorite song and show me that they know all the lyrics. Then I like to turn it around and talk about what those lyrics mean.
While Making Dinner
Letting your child help is an excellent way to bond and teach them new skills. Cooking is a great tool to get your child to open up. I find that my kids often share what’s going on in their lives while we cook. My younger ones love to show me how big they’re getting by helping to set the table or by cleaning up after. They all love the one-on-one attention while also contributing to the family. If they help cook the meal it’s a great boost for their self esteem to receive “compliments to the chef!”
At Bath Time
This is the perfect time to connect with your little one. Not so good for your tweens and teens (you’re typically banging on the door telling them to get out). I love to teach my little ones new songs or actually take the time to play with them and their toys. Remember little children can tell you a lot about their thoughts and feelings through their creative play.
Lessons and Activities
So often we rush to get our kid to their activity on time without ever talking about the lesson or experience. Try to ask your child specific questions pertaining to the activity or lesson. Not just “yes or no” questions. It’s your chance to be a part of what your child is learning. This shows them that you’re interested and not just their chauffer.
Whenever You’re Waiting
In line or on hold; don’t multi-task or check email on your phone. Instead pull out a pen and paper and play a game. Hangman and Tic Tac Toe are two of my favorites. It’s good to show your child that you can relax and have fun. You’ll be amazed at how much fun you’ll both have playing simple paper games. I like to keep a small pad of paper in my purse to seize those opportunities to play.
A Short Walk
Either around the block or from the back of the parking lot to the store this can be a great time to get your kid to talk. Again avoid open ended “yes/no” questions. Also remember to slow down your pace. You’re not training for a marathon and remember their legs are shorter than yours. Walking is a great way to connect with your older kids.
Kids HATE chores so, talking during this time isn’t typically going to work. One way to make the work go faster is to incorporate play. I like to use improv games. As an alumni of IOWest, an improv club in Hollywood, I love performing and improvising – the sillier the better. Outlandish situations, with goofy characters you create who have silly voices. It’s fun to see your child’s imagination at work and at the same time you’re teaching them that work can be fun.
This is commonly used as a time to tell or read a story, but it can also be a great time for heart to hearts. I find that as the day draws to a close if there are any concerns my child has about tomorrow this tends to be when it surfaces. Let your child know that you are ALWAYS there for them when they need you. Kids don’t like long “lecture” conversations so keep your responses short and simple. Finish off with a big hug while you tuck them in for the night. I can’t tell you how many times I notice a genuine smile of satisfaction on my child’s face just for giving them those few minutes of undivided attention.
Things I like to talk about when my child has nothing to say
- Stories about me and extended family members when we were kids
- Metaphors on morality or character traits I see they need to be working on
- Interesting facts they may not know about family, history or whatever I learned that day
- Imagining them in the future when they’re all grown up
- When outdoors pointing out places/objects/people and asking questions about them or making up silly stories.
There is no quick fix for spending quality time with your kids. As parents we have to put those little deposits into our child’s love bank every day. None of us can say we don’t have 10 extra minutes to devote to our kids. Even if you have multiple kids like me, you have to find the time to let each of them know that they are important and their needs matter. They’re only kids once so don’t put off spending that quality time today otherwise I guarantee you’ll wish you had when they’re all grown up.
MeLisa blogs about family life and more at adoptivelegacy.com.