Make Time For Your Kids
Many of us were raised in households where our fathers were physically or emotionally absent, part-time or where they adhered to identities as providers and not necessarily caregivers. Many dads today are learning how to be more engaged in their kids lives and it isn’t always easy to figure out how best to allocate time.
Life is busy. Like many of you I have no idea what I did with all my time before the kids showed up, moved in and threw my life into disarray (the good disarray…). Now I have more people who want some of my time and an increasing number of priorities to focus on, my kids being a significant one. Of course in addition to my kids I like to spend time with my partner, my employer likes me to show up to work on occasion, the grass hasn’t learned to cut itself yet, dishes and laundry need doing and I have some other projects on the go that consume time as well. I know these things and people competing for my time probably sound familiar to you.
We all have to live within the constraints of our limited resource of time. Deciding how to get everything done and acknowledge the presence of our kids periodically is challenging and involves dealing with conflict between our varius priorities. How do you decide how to spend your time? The first step is to recognize that you can’t do it all yourself or as well as you would like to do it all. There is no perfection here, only good enough. Next it is important to remember that spending time with your kids isn’t just about spending quantity time, it is quality time that is more important. Sometimes quality involves longer chuncks of time and sometimes it comes in short moments.
Quality vs. Quantity Time
It is important to remember that spending time with your kids isn’t just about spending quantity time, it is quality time that is more important. Sometimes quality involves longer chunks of time and sometimes it comes in short moments. This study was primarily focused on how much time mothers spent with their kids and how the amount of time impacted on behavioural, emotional and academic outcomes. While the study itself is behind a paywall, this article covers the details well. Basically the study suggests that it doesn’t matter how much time you spend with your kids. The quality of your interactions does however matter.
The study didn’t touch on the quality of dads’ interactions. It is reasonable to assume that the quality vs. quantity finding holds true regardless of the gender of the parent. So the good news is that you don’t have to dump everything else that you are doing in your life in order to do a good job as a parent. You just need to look for opportunities for quality engagement.
There's never enough time to get it all done. These tips will help you make time for your kids.Click To Tweet
How To Make Quality Time For Your Kids
This is especially important if you have more than one kid. Make time for each kid to have time with no other adults or kids. Some of these things to do one-on-one would also work with more than one kid at a time.
- Read with your child
- Take your kid to a cafe for lunch or for some coffee and muffin time
- Do a puzzle together
- Ask them questions and listen to what they have to say
- Go for a walk together
- Teach them a new skill or learn something new together
- Do experiments or crafts together
- Invite them to help you with chores and work around the house
- Cook or bake together
- Take silly pictures of each other
- Tell your kids about your favourite musicians and bands and ask about theirs
Put Down Your Phone
It doesn’t have to be your phone. It is really about stepping away from the screen and engaging with your kids. This is hard for me. I have so many things on the go that I either feel like I will miss something or I am working on something on a screen. Lately I have been asking myself whether what I am working on is more important than spending some time with my kids when they ask me to go to the park, do a puzzle or help with homework. Sometimes it is and often it isn’t.
In my job I frequently work from home and while my kids are great at respecting the fact that I am working, they do sometimes need help with something or just want to build a block tower with me. I always look for a way to say yes. Sometimes I am ready for a break and happy to get down on the floor to build. Other times I am working on something that I need to finish. In those cases I take the ‘yes, and’ approach. Yes I’ll build a tower and I need 15 minutes to finish what I am doing and then I will play / read with / help you. The kids get the answer they want and I give myself a deadline to finish something and take a break.
Make Family Time Together
Quality time together as a family is just as important as one-one-one time with each kid. Some of this time is the stuff that memories are made of.
- Walk to school with your kids
- Eat meals together
- Roadtrips or other family trips
- Go for a bike ride or a hike as a family
- Explore nature together
- Go for ice cream
Whatever approach you take, look for opportunities to give your kids some quality time. You don’t need to try to make every minute one that they will remember for a lifetime. It is the cumulation of little moments of quality time, playing, getting ice cream, playing at the park, spending one-on-one time that your kids are looking for from you. It is this engaged parenting that they need and that help you build relationships with your kids.
If you could also pick me up an ice cream cone when you are out I’d really appreciate it.