Hey ya’ll! Do you ever ask yourself, “Am I spending enough time with my kids?” (I sure do!) In this article I am going to give you some tips on how to spend quality time with your kids. Between work, household chores, school, and the many other duties we juggle on a weekly basis there’s not much time left for “fun”. So, how can we incorporate family time into our busy life?
Disclaimer- I AM NOT a professional therapist or doctor. These suggestions are simply ideas that have worked for my family. If you are looking for professional help, please discontinue reading now. But if you are interested in some helpful tips I encourage you to read on!
Quality time starts small and daily
I started with thinking “small” and “daily”.
Kids love big adventures, like vacations and theme parks. However, the moments they tend to remember the most are the small ones. (e.g., an afternoon at the park, fishing with dad, or even a trip to the ice cream shop.) But I also needed to get daily on the schedule. And we all know a trip to the ice cream shop everyday is NOT a great idea.
So, I turned to magazines, mom blogs, and family guides for some ideas about how to spend more quality time with my kids. They all seemed to say “dedicate your entire afternoon to crafts and tea time!” In theory that sounds amazing but in reality there’s no possible way I can spend 3 straight hours playing (I would if I could stop time!) There had to be a better way to spend quality time with my kids, without spending a fortune and neglecting my responsibilities.
Sieze the moment
I decided to try “seizing the moment”. I’ve never been very good at that. In the back of my mind I’m generally thinking, “I could be doing something a little more productive with my time (like a load of laundry)”. I also tend to get so focused on “capturing” the moment that I forget to “live” in it. Spending quality time with my kids is not done from behind a lens. Having photo albums (yes, I am slightly old fashioned) to store memories in are fine. However,I don’t think my kids will thank me down the road for not pushing them on the swing because I wanted to snap a pic (or ten) of them sitting on it.
small things turn into quality time
Carving time out of each day for my kids taught me things about them that I never knew. Firstly, my oldest son (twin #1) is very creative. Every night after school legos are all over the floor and he is engineering a space vehicle or making spin-offs of his favorite action heroes. Secondly, my daughter (twin #2) is extremely artistic. I’ve never seen a 6 year old stay in the lines while coloring like she does or imitate a drawing so precisely. Then there’s my youngest. Looking at him you’d see a cute, yet extremely ornery, fella. He doesn’t seem to pay attention and just loves to terrorize. However, if you look a little deeper he will surprise you! He is a good problem solver and has a great memory.
I may sound a little biased (because I am). But my point is that if I hadn’t purposefully taken the time to spend quality time with my kids and take advantage of the small opportunities, I may have missed those significant details.
REMEMBER WHY quality time with your kids matter
Scheduling time for your kids doesn’t have to be literally on the schedule. It’s as easy as coloring a picture while dinner is in the oven or reading a 5 minute book before bed. (I have a full list of ideas below). Kids need to know that you want to be there for them and with them. Making sure their favorite shirt is clean is fine and dandy, but also be there when they just need a friend to hang with.
Parents can get so wrapped up in the stress of their work and “to do” lists that we forget about why we are working so hard to begin with! Supporting our children isn’t just bringing home a paycheck and putting food on the table. It’s also about an emotional connection that makes love grow deep, not only in us but in them as well.
Learn from those who taught you
I was very fortunate to have fantastic parents who knew how to spend quality time with their kids. They not only took the time to hear our meaningless rants, but also taught us life skills. My dad, who had his own construction business, would take the time to teach us part of his trade. Like, how to build a house, shingle a roof, and mud new drywall. (None of which I’m an expert in). As for my mom, she was a “stay at home” mom. Not only to me, but also to my brother, my sister, and multiple foster kids that came in and out of our home over the years. She taught me everything I’ll ever need to know on raising my own crew and keeping a clean house. As well as, how to mow the yard and how to be a strong woman!
My parents also taught us how to build a strong imagination! We didn’t own a T.V. or computer until I was nearly graduated from high school. A radio was the most exciting electronic we owned. In the evenings we would listen to stories on cassette or my parents would tag team telling us kids a wild adventure story. (I still remember some of them). We would also put on concerts and play games together. But one of my favorite things we did was simply sitting on our deck under the stars and having a real conversation. Life, politics, religion- no subject was off limits or shied away from. And our opinion always mattered.
BUILD A STRONG RELATIONSHIP
Having an open and honest relationship with your child starts simply with communication, the younger you start the better. I’ve heard so many moms say they regret that they never took the time to have more than a “how was your day?” conversation with their child. They were always too busy with laundry or preparing dinner. Now, they want that relationship with their college age child but the line of communication has a little static.
I took their advice and started having actual conversations with my kids as soon as they could talk. There have been times that I’ve answered questions that I wouldn’t have wanted to answer even if they were 30! (Of course, I answered them in a kid friendly way.) But I want my kids to know that they can come to me with anything, from a hangnail to a broken heart. I will listen and won’t judge. And I will give my honest, heartfelt opinion or advice. I refuse to tell even a white lie to my kids (my kids know Santa is just a figure of Christmas that makes the season more fun). My kiddos are smart and will eventually figure it out that “white lie”. Then, all of the trust I worked so hard to build will be lost.
Quality time Maintains the bridge
Honesty builds trust, trust builds respect, and respect builds love. When one is damaged the domino affect happens and the whole foundation crumbles. My family is not perfect and my methods may eventually have a defect (I’m sure my kids will hate me at some point in their teenage years). But I will always keep that bridge of honesty, respect, and love in working order for as long as I live.
I encourage you to break up your routine and prioritize what truly matters- spending quality time with your kids! If I can, you certainly can too! Go seize your moments!
Tips on how to spend quality time with your kids:
- TALK and LISTEN. (Even if their stories are long and make no sense to you. Show them you are interested because you love them.)
- Build a tower with blocks. (Even if your toddler wants to knock them over 5 blocks high.)
- Create a lego masterpiece. (5-10 minutes is plenty of time to create something interesting.)
- Have a concert. (Grab some pots to drum on or shake a lidded cup filled with small toys.)
- Dance party. (I’m a horrible dancer. But my kids find it entertaining.)
- Play an age appropriate board game. (I even enjoy playing Candy Land.)
- Race Matchbox cars down the hallway. (Or on any solid flooring. Add obstacles and ramps for more challenges and excitement.)
- Shoot hoops. (Grab a basket/bucket and a foam ball. Test your shooting skills by stepping back every time you make a shot.)
- Card games. (Our family favorites are Match Game and Go Fish, even a 3 year old can catch on pretty fast.)
- Play dress up. (Let the kids dress you up; with their imagination you will look spectacular. HeHe)
Quick activities for the END OF THE DAY
- Charades. ( A great game for when you have only 5 minutes before bed!)
- Color a picture. (This is perfect for those evenings when your energy is zapped.)
- Teach your child a hand game. (example: Double Double This That or Patty Cake.)
- Read books together. (Look and Find books make story time fun for everyone.)