A few days ago, my eldest son came to me out of the blue and said, “I love you, mommy. No, actually, I adore you”. As you can imagine, I was very moved by his statement. But I was also a bit surprised, not knowing the reason behind it. Then he continued, “Do you know why? Because you do lots of activities with me”, and I couldn’t believe my ears. Through his innocent declaration, my son made me realize something very big: kids notice when we spend time together; they can feel the difference between actually hanging out with them and just being there.
In this day and age, spending enough time with our children has become an increasing concern. Adapting to our hectic contemporary lifestyle means that we often have to leave them for trips, work, errands or various sorts of plans. Then comes the need to take one child to a sports class or a birthday party, and leave the other(s) with a babysitter or a relative.
So after a long and busy day, quality time is very important to make up for the absence. There are many ways to catch up and make some room for family bonding. They don’t have to take all day or be expensive, but whatever you do, just make sure the time is totally dedicated to your kids.
Try one of these 9 simple ideas to spend more cherished time with your children:
1- Keep electronic devices away: Being physically present around your kids doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re spending time with them. If you’re busy on your phone, laptop or device while they are playing, they can feel you’re mentally elsewhere. Give yourself a digital break during the time you spend with them. It will be beneficial for both of you!
2- Play games: Games are perfect to combine bonding time with mental or physical exercise. Let them choose the game they’d like to play, from board games (like Monopoly or a puzzle) to outdoor sports, and enjoy playing together.
3- Do some arts and crafts: These activities are very important for developing their creativity and imagination, while also having a deep impact on their “social, cognitive and emotional development” according to Dr. Richard Rende via parenting.com. If you’re not the creative type, there are lots of sites and books that can teach you to do simple arts and crafts together at home.
4- Communicate: Having an open line of communication makes up an important part of family quality time. Not only does it teach your child to give and take, but it also helps develop trust between the two of you and reinforce your relationship. Plus, they’ll feel more at ease sharing their issues and concerns with you in the future, especially important ones like bullying if they happen to be a victim of it. Asking about their day at school is a lovely way to start a conversation.
5- Show some tender loving care: Children need affection, and at a young age, they get most of it from their parents. Take a few minutes for hugs and kisses in the morning, then maybe a few more later during the day. It’s good for boosting both your and their morale. Also, children who feel loved develop higher self-confidence, which in healthy doses can set them up for success in the future.
6- Read them stories: Whether it’s a bedtime story or one in the afternoon, reading books with your children is a pleasurable time for them. The benefits of reading are many, so aim at creating a good habit and encourage them to read more as they grow up.
7- Sit together in bed: You don’t need to sit with them every night, but they will greatly enjoy your occasional company when they’re in bed and about to sleep. Sit with them for 5-10 minutes for a nice and intimate time together. You can also take the opportunity to combine this with other ideas from the list, like giving hugs and kisses, communicating or reading a bedtime story.
8- Spend some alone time with each one: Because it’s all about balance! Although unintentionally, parents are likely to give more attention to one kid — usually the youngest — than the other(s). Every now and then, a little tête-a- tête with each of your children will allow you to give them equal attention, and have a balanced relationship with all the members of your family.
9- Let them choose an outing: Make your next family trip all about bonding, and ask them where they’d love to go for food or for fun. Be it in a restaurant, a theme park, a swimming pool, or anywhere realistic, enjoy your time together visiting the place or doing the activity of their choice.
As parents, we’re bound to get busy with tons of things to do, errands to run, plans to organize and projects to get done. Juggling your personal life with your career and your children’s upbringing is definitely not easy, and it always helps to find some activities and events for them to take part in (not to mention the amazing benefits of activities for kids).
But at the end of the day, quality time is crucial to strengthen your relationship with your little ones. Engaging in as little as a few minutes a day of bonding with your children will enable you to grow together. You’ll see the difference it will make in both your and their levels of happiness, confidence and satisfaction!