What does it really mean when you ask yourself if you spend quality time with your kids?
What exactly is “quality time?
Once you become a parent, time starts going faster and faster. You look at the clock and probably say, “it’s already 5:00pm, I still have so much work and need to prepare dinner, where did the time go?” The older your kids get, time even feels like it’s going faster as you are running from one activity to the next. Meals seem to be thrown in a tupperware and eaten on the way to practice but no one is judging :). You do what you gotta do.
My oldest son is starting kindergarten this year and I am already trying to figure out how I am gonna balance my schedule with his new routine and my 2 year old’s routine. As I sat there and tried to write out a routine for my family I went through my schedule and took a step back once I saw how I have included kid time in my schedule. Most of those times were while I was doing something else. I mean I am a mom, I multitask…all moms do. But then I asked myself…
Am I really spending time with my kids if I have them coloring on the dinner table while I make dinner?
They are not getting my undivided attention and I am not participating in their activity. It’s more the fact that I am keeping them busy while I need to prep dinner. There is nothing wrong with that but that didn’t seem like quality time to me. As I get older I realize that it’s not HOW MUCH time you spend with your kids, it’s about spending QUALITY time you spend with them. 1 hour of doing laundry and cleaning the house while watching them play legos is nothing compared to 20 minutes of board game time with my undivided attention.
The smile they give you after those 20 minutes of just one on one time is priceless.
So how are we as moms supposed to get in that so called “quality time” in our busy schedule? It takes some compromising on both your end and your child’s end but you can make it work. Here are some tips on spending quality time with your kids.
- Schedule one on one time: Find a few short time periods out of your week where you can give each child your undivided attention. It only has to be 20 minutes and promise yourself that smartphone will be down and you will remove yourself away from all household activities. Let your child pick the activity but set expectations with them that after this time you have to finish up some other stuff.
- Non-physical time: You don’t always have to be there to make your child feel special. Leave a note in their lunch with a small treat telling them how much you love them. If your little one cannot read, make sure you tell the teacher to read it to them. Put a family photo in their activity bag or favorite book to remind them how much you love them. Have a special after school snack for them once in a while.
- Engage them in your activities: Kids thrive off doing what their parents do. Lately I let my kids take 1 day out of the week to help me cook. They get to pick a day so I can get time with just 1 kid. I let them pour in ingredients, help me clean up, set the table, everything. On the day they are helping make sure you pick something easy to make.
- Take them to run errands: I know you must be thinking “it takes so much longer when the kids are with me.” This is where the compromising part comes in on our part. I make grocery shopping into a game and my kids love it! My older one manages my list on my phone and my little one finds the grocery item. At first it was a pain, not gonna lie but now that they understand the routine, they look forward to it each week and I actually enjoy it.
- Family Meeting: Set aside 30 minutes once a week to sit down as a whole family and talk or play with no technology. Let the kids show you what they love about their toys, what made them happy or sad or things they would like to have or do. As parents do the same thing.
- Spontaneous days: I can’t tell you how much this makes a difference. Being super Type A I never did this but have spontaneous days with them once in a while. Surprise them and take them for ice cream right after school. Jump on a train ride on a weekend to maybe visit the city next to yours. They love the excitement and it helps us loosen up from our busy lives!
In the world of motherhood there is a big difference between quality time and the quantity time.