You want to be the best parent for your child. And yet the daily work demands seem to be endless! You feel a sense of guilt as you are not spending enough time with your child. Then, frustration may set in as you unsuccessfully strive to balance out all your duties and responsibilities.
So what is a caring, modern parent to do?
Rest assured that the total amount of time parents spend with their child has no effect on how children turn out in terms of their academic achievement, behaviour and emotional well- being. What is more important is quality parent time – such as reading to your child, sharing meals, talking with her or engaging with her
one-on-one, which will result in positive outcomes for her.
Nevertheless, modern lifestyles have made it harder for families to spend time together. Parents are busy juggling work demands and house chores, while children have to deal with school and tons of extra-curricular activities. So, how can we make each interaction worthwhile?
Quality family time
Quality time: The time spent with loved ones that is specially-allocated and significant, with full attention given to the person.
Quantity time: The total amount of time spent together.
Parents who spend more quality time with their children gain a better understanding about them. Knowing a child’s character and temperament helps parents identify emerging problems. When their children seem different from usual, parents can take appropriate steps to address these concerns. Merely being together without actually trying to connect with your child does little to strengthen the parent-child bond.
Parents should therefore focus on converting their quantity time to quality time. Here are some strategies to make the most of your time together:
- Keep distractions away. The “omnipresence” of digital gadgets, particularly smartphones, distracts us from paying full attention
to the person in front of us. This often happens when you keep reading emails or news while having meals with your child. Make it quality family time by putting away your devices and actually engaging with her, instead of your apps.
- Daily routines can be special too. Appreciate every little bit of time you have with your child, so you can connect with her. This applies even when you are driving her to school, taking her to buy groceries, or doing other routines. A golden opportunity arises when she wants to tell or discuss something with you. Pay as much attention to her by minimising other distractions and really listening to whatever is on her mind.
- Make chores fun! Doing chores together as a family will make it easier for everyone and build stronger bonds within the family. You could wash the dishes, prepare food together, or get the kids to pack their own school lunches. It is also a wonderful opportunity to teach them life skills.
- Create a weekly family tradition. It could be something simple like a movie night or a board game night, depending on your family’s interests. You could prepare a themed dinner (e.g. pizza night) together and encourage the children to prepare toppings of their choice. These activities will impart long-lasting memories that will always be cherished.
- Support your child’s interest. Instead of signing her up for activities that she is not interested in, ask her what her preference is. When given a choice to
pursue her own passion, she will be happy to spend time practising. Also, be sure to allocate your time for her practise sessions, classes or performances. Your presence is a sure way of showing support.
- Celebrate special events. Include her and ask for her opinion while planning a special event. Birthdays or anniversaries are a great opportunity to spend quality time with the family and have fun together. It does not have to be a fancy or big outing – a simple dinner and a birthday cake at a nice restaurant can be very memorable.
- Have one-on-one chats. Find a calm time to talk to each of your children alone. Sometimes it is easier for them to open up and relate their concerns to you this way. This will also strengthen your personal relationship with each child.
A special note to fathers: Research indicates that fathers are as important as mothers in their roles as caregivers, protectors, financial supporters, and most importantly, models for social and emotional behaviour. You may spend less time with your children compared to their mother, but you can still make the most of every interaction.
As parents, by striving to make the most of every moment that you have with your child, you are also teaching your child how to be good adults and wonderful parents themselves someday. Show your children how important your time with them is, and you will build stronger relationships and create a warm and loving home to return to at the end of the day