We often hear that an easy step to positive parenting is to regularly create family quality time. But what do we actually mean by “quality time”? How much time does it actually take and what makes something “quality’ or not? And how do I know if I’m getting it right?
As a parent or carer we often feel an immense pressure on for us to be the perfect Mom or Dad. It’s easy to end up feeling like we’re falling short all the time and that we’ll never be good enough!
Let’s push all those negative thoughts aside and trust that we can be awesome parents, trust that we can really connect with our kids meaningfully and provide quality time for them and trust that that quality time is worthwhile and that it is actually achievable in our super busy lives.
What Is Family Quality Time?
Good quality family time isn’t about providing cupboards and shelves full to the brim with the newest toy, it isn’t about filling every waking hour of your child’s life with clubs for this that and the other. It isn’t about spending a fortune on the newest gadget to keep up with the neighbours. Quality Time is simply about being present and truly engaged with our kids. It’s about putting aside distractions and being present in that moment in time.
Kids benefit enormously from one to one quality time and also quality time as a family, whatever its size, too. Quality time helps build self esteem and self confidence, it gives a sense of being valued, strengthens relationships and bonding and builds trust. It’s definitely something we should be aiming for in our day to day lives.
Making Family Quality Time Achievable In 5 Minutes
Finding space for quality time in our super busy lives can be really tricky. Don’t worry if you don’t have an hour or half an hour to dedicate to it yesterday, today or tomorrow; the benefits of family quality time can be rewarded by just a few minutes every day. Start by trying to prioritise and set aside just 5 minutes a day to set the rest of the world on hold and truly engage and be 100% present with your kids.
Find a time that works for you. It might be five minutes after you get home from school. It might be 5 minutes before they go to day care. It might be five minutes before bed time. It might be 5 minutes while the dinner slowly simmers. Think about when those five minutes work for you and your family.
There may be days when you can capture more time and there may be days when life’s full on and there isn’t a spare moment. Don’t beat yourself up about the days you didn’t do what you aimed for. Focus on the days, the minutes, the moments when you did. Every second of truly present parenting is so valuable. Praise yourself and feel rightly positive about every bit of it you do achieve, however small, as it all makes the world of difference to your child, you and your family. This isn’t about guilt. This is about building confidence in yourself and recognising your awesomeness as a parent.
How Are We Going To Turn Ordinary Time Together Into “Quality Time” Together?
Here are some simple pointers to bear in mind that might help move our time together into truly “quality time” together.
- Set aside distractions like the cooking, washing, the TV and the phone to give one to one 100% listening and engaging to the kids. Don’t feel guilty about the chores waiting to be done, the time with the children will be worth it, and hey if you really want to the chores are still there for you to go back to later. 😉
- Be 100% present. Don’t keep looking at your watch or your phone screen. Step aside from social media, step aside from the outside world. You can get so much out of having this close special time together. Feel it strengthening the bond between you and giving you calm time to interact without the bustle of everyday life distracting you and diluting your communication.
- Plan one to one time into your daily routine so that it becomes a regular feature. We called it our “Sharing Time” and the kids soon got to know that they would have our total attention at these special times.
- Find a time and place that works for you. It might be to cuddle up on the sofa after lunch to share a story or a song. It might be to go on a walk, hold hands and chat after dinner. It might be to sit on the swing together in the sunshine and just ‘be’. It might be to listen to them tell you about their day after school. It might be to sit and play their favourite game with them. It doesn’t matter what the activity is or when or where. What matters is immersing yourself in that moment entirely when it happens.
- Get down to their level if you can. Sit down on a chair or the floor or simply bend down. This gives much better eye to eye contact and brings you right up to what’s interesting them, showing them that you really value what they are doing.
- Give appropriate specific praise for their effort at whatever activity they were engaged in. Try to avoid general “well done” or “good girl” praise. BE SPECIFIC…that was “Great listening”, “Wow, you poured that really carefully”, “I can see you were looking really hard”, “You were so kind to share with me”. Children can benefit enormously from knowing exactly what they are doing well.
- Show them you are paying attention with smiles and nods and join in their play if they invite you to. Keep lots of eye contact to show them you are really interested.
- Talk to them about their play activity using questions and statements that require more than a one word “Yes” or “No” answer. for example “What would happen if? “Tell me about what you are doing” “How did you do that?” “I can’t wait to hear about what you’re doing”
Treasure those moments, minutes and hours of being 100% present with your kids on a one to one basis or as a family and trust that it will make such a big difference to your child and your relationship. Quality time helps build kids self esteem and self confidence, strengthens relationships and builds trust. The rewards are colossal and you are an awesome parent for making it all possible.
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