I guess you’ll agree that the time you get to spend with your child is nowhere near what you wish you’d spend each day! Not just you, the issue of having very little time to spend with one’s own child riddles parents everywhere. With the ever-growing list of responsibilities and the repeating pile of chores, it’s difficult to spend quality time with one’s child.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD, a Parenting and Wellness Consultant at The Parenting Place in Bangalore explains, “This lack of time is as true for stay at home parents as it is for working parents. There is just too much to do and too little time”.
No matter how hard they try to squeeze a little more time, something or the other jumps up and spoils the plan. But does that mean there’s no solution to this age-old problem?
Well, not quite so!
Spending quality time with your child, as far away from your reach as it seems, is quite possible! The activities that we’re about to discuss will help you with just the same.
But first it’s important to understand that this lack of quality time cannot be replaced by gadgets or toys. Quality time has more to do with a child’s development than just keeping them engaged for the time being.
As Haripriya, a working mom, explains, “Children crave for attention from us all the time and they feel secure when we dedicate exclusive time for them”.
So before heading out to the different ways to engage your child, let’s first take a look at how this quality time with family influences your child.
Necessity of quality family time
Sushma Hebbar from YourDOST, a Psychologist explains, “Parents are the first point of contact for the children. The quality of care and stimulation they receive plays an important role in shaping them up!”.
Dr. Debmita Dutta explains, “Children need to spend time with their parents because it builds their self-esteem. They feel important when their parents spend time with them. Also, young children learn everything that they know by imitation — whether it is language, mannerisms or habits.
A lot of times the copying happens at a subconscious level and is not obvious or visible. If we want our children to be like us — imbibe our values and inherit our attitudes – we need to be around.”
Apart from this, you open the bridge of communication when you spend time with your child. “Communication channels with your children lets you know what is happening in their lives.
This allows you to share your own thoughts, values and experiences, to build a good foundation for them to imbibe from.” explains Rachna, an award-winning blogger and content strategist.
How to spend quality time with your child
“To carve a cliché, to a child, love is spelled TIME. From my mother, I learned that the trick in maximising time with one’s kid is not to always see it as time spent exclusively doing the things they want, but in general, doing things together.” says Vidya Sury, a writer and parenting blogger.
So here are 10 easy and efficient ways to spend quality time with your child:
1) Dining together
Almost everyone prefers to sit in front of a TV or laptop and dine individually.
However as Sushma explains, “Make sure you have one meal together — sit together and know how things are going on at your child’s end.”
Dining together provides a lot of time for conversations. These conversations provide you with the opportunity to interact with your child and an opportunity for him/her to share things with you.
This ensures quality time and teaches him/her the importance of family and togetherness.
But the important point to note is to make sure to keep away all the gadgets. “(I) Put off my phone in charge and cut off from the outside world while I sit with her” says Haripriya.
She adds, “Since children see the addiction to gadgets all around them, they very well understand that these gadgets take away our attention from them. So when children demand parents to put away our phones I think we need to respect that.”
2) Help him/her with work
Homework time is an excellent opportunity to spend time with your kids. You can just sit down with your work.
As Rachna explains, “Help them with projects, queries and studies. Yes, Google is there but nothing like knowledge generously sprinkled with experiences coming down from parents.”
You can carry on with your work and help him/her with doubts, share your knowledge and even a story or two of your own experiences to enjoy a laugh.
This not only provides quality time, but also makes your kid feel cared for and protected. You get to guide your child and bond with him/her better.
Board games, card games, outdoor games, etc. all provide ample time for you and your child to bond.
“Come up with your own games because kids love new things every moment, sit with them and create something new (like make some art out of waste, grow a plant together, nurture a small garden, do role-plays of teacher-student, help them create a zoo with their animal stuffed toys), talk to them about what all they used to do (mischiefs, cute moments) from their babyhood, etc.” says Haripriya.
You can also engage your child with any sport he/she is interested in. That way you can give your suggestions and tips, and point out how he/she could improve.
But most importantly, appreciate your child’s skills and keep away all the phones and pagers.
4) Meditation and exercise
Meditation and exercise are good for health and relaxing the mind, making them ideal ways to engage your child.
You not only get to bond with your child, but he/she will be able to develop a routine and a healthy body.
As an added bonus, this also helps your little one to concentrate and perform better in academics as well as extracurricular activities.
As Dr. Meghaa G Singal explains, “It’s tough to manage everything. So what I do is I do aerobics with her. This helps her in her growth and, I get time to spend with her rather than going alone to the gym.”
5) Household chores
Household chores can be made fun with kids. You can ask him/her to assist you by washing vegetables, passing the right ingredients while you cook, etc.
“When we were in the kitchen, he was my little helper. He had his corner there. As I did the washing up, he would wipe the dishes.
Sure he’d drop them, but hey, what are a few extra dishes to rinse when there’s loads of laughter?” says Vidya Sury.
Not just cooking, you can make him/her assist in other chores like cleaning the house or washing clothes.
Priyanka Varshney Jaiswal, a parent, explains “ I always ensure my little one is involved with me in doing my daily chores — like keeping clothes in washing machine, arranging the house, packing bags, folding clothes and keeping them in wardrobe. This gives them a sense of independence and involvement”
As a result, you get a lot of time to interact with your child, without having to rush through all the chores.
6) Go for a walk
The next time you go to the nearby grocery store or market, why don’t you take your kid and walk?
“In the evening, we also had the tradition of going for a walk on the terrace and while we talked and caught up with each other’s day, our son was happy to run around and play by himself.
To keep him focused we often carried a bunch of chalks so he could create his masterpieces on the red flooring.” says Vidya Sury.
All you have to do is be present with him/her.
7) Daily drive & Weekly/monthly trips
Kids love going on drives — be it on a bike or in a car.
A short drive around your street or locality, while leaving for, or coming back from office leaves your child elated.
It ensures quality time and takes utmost 10 to 15 minutes.
Another idea is taking short trips once in a while. Trips provide a lot of time for you to bond with your child.
A short trip during weekends or once/twice every month keeps you connected with your child.
It allows him/her to explore the world with you as the guide, helps take away your stress, and provides quality time with kids.
8) A good hug
“Show love with hugs, kisses, smiles — make sure they feel important and loved”, says Sushma Hebbar.
A good hug every now and then does more than anything else. It gives your child an assurance that you care for and love him/her.
He/she will be able to understand that your lack of presence was due to your busy schedule.
“One of the easiest things parents can do when they have very little time is to utilize the magic of loving touch.
Touch from a parent — when used correctly — can build a child’s intellect, his social skills and emotional resilience very successfully in a very short time. It is important to touch children lovingly several times through the day.” explains Dr. Debmita Dutta.
If you could manage to sit down and have a little chit-chat, then, it would be perfect.
9) Bedtime stories
Every child loves bedtime stories. Which is why reading your child his/her favourite bedtime story is great idea.
It helps your child sleep better, strengthens the relationship, and ensures quality time with him/her.
Yazhini Ilanahai, a parent, explains, “no matter how tired I am, we have this routine of reading two stories before bedtime. Sometimes it is followed by a song. This has helped us create a strong bond.”
It doesn’t matter if you have just 5 minutes or the entire day. What matters is how you decide to spend it.
“I think the best thing we did was being both physically and mentally present when we were with him. No multitasking!”, says Vidya Sury.
So the next time you feel you don’t have enough time, try these easy methods and have a wonderful time with your child. Because after all, like Dr. Debmita Dutta says, “Parenting with guess work can be very stressful. Parenting with knowledge can be delightful.”
Don’t forget to share this with your friends and let us know which of these worked best for you. If you have any other ideas to help parents, do share them in comments below.
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Article originally published on – November 08, 2016, updated on – March 16, 2017