Spending quality time with our children is so important; it helps with their development, confidence, self-worth and happiness. The key is that the time we spend with our children is quality time, time to stop what you are doing and really engage and give them your undivided attention. It is you that they want and need, your time, your attention and your love, memorable time that will let them know that we love and care for them and although we have our busy schedules they are worthy of us taking time out especially for them. This simple act is such an important and valuable gift that we can give to our children.
How often does your child say ‘hey mum come and look at this’, or ‘mum can you do this with me?’ And how often is our answer ‘in a minute, I am just busy doing something’. This doesn’t mean we don’t love our kids or want to stop and spend time with them. Unfortunately, if you are like most parents, our time is precious; juggling work, cleaning, shopping, after school clubs, homework, the list goes on. We all seem to be wishing for more time but for most of us this is something we just don’t have. Trying to achieve the perfect balance is a real challenge; we should make our goals realistic ones.
I have always found my children let me know in their own way when they are in need of some mummy time, be it throwing more tantrums, being a bit more cheeky than normal or becoming withdrawn. The signals are there and each time that I do stop and plan something with them the results are so positive. This is especially important when you have more than one child, try to plan individual ‘special time’ with each child; it doesn’t have to be expensive and make it work with what you can realistically fit in. Remember it is you that they need and not what you are doing or where you are going. So how do we do this? How do we find another hour, another half day to squeeze into our already full lives?
Combine time together with your chores: If you can spend quality time together whilst you are getting some of your jobs done then that’s even better. All children love to help and there are so many tasks that we can involve them with whilst spending quality time together. It may take longer and will definitely be messier but your children will cherish and flourish from spending this special with you. You could:
Cook dinner together – make it something simple and fun, one of our favourites is making pizza – lay out all the ingredients on the table and let them get busy decorating the pizza bases, they will have so much pride in serving it to the rest of the family later. After all this is a dinner they made ‘by themselves’.
Gardening – all children love to get messy and the garden is the perfect place for this! If you can, let them have their own patch where they can dig, water and if you have the time you can plant seeds or vegetables.
Cleaning – Whilst we don’t find doing the cleaning fun most younger children do! Get them their own mops and brooms and let them ‘help’ you as you work your way round, you could also get your children to help sort the socks into pairs as you put the washing away or get older children to help hang the clothes onto hangers. My daughter loves to help me polish, with her having the important job of being the ‘polish sprayer’. We put the music on and enjoy time together dancing around whilst getting the cleaning done at the same time.
By Shimona Franklin
Another activity you could try doing together is any DIY around the house, give the children their own tools and let them help you. Also washing the car – give them a sponge, some soap and a hose and they are in their element!
Arts and crafts – Children love making and creating and the list is endless. You could collect some empty boxes and toilet rolls, lay them out on the table with paints and material, ripped up paper and let them decorate them. One of our favorites is to colour in dollies, it is a great chance to have the opportunity to chat with your child whilst they are engaged, another is to go for a ‘nature walk’ and collect leaves, petals and twigs then make a collage.
Spending time with your children gives them the opportunity to learn and to get to know the real you rather than the rushed you, it’s a great time for them to talk through any issues they may have. Most of all, it provides you and your children with time to connect and have fun together. Even if you can only spare 15 minutes, those minutes will mean so much to your child, the washing, cleaning and ironing will always be there so stop, take some time and enjoy your children and make some happy memories together. They will thank you for it later.