There’s just not a lot that’s better than getting to spend quality time with our children. Taking them shopping, playing at the park, playing family board games . . . Regardless of what it looks like, time spent having fun with our kids is tough to beat. And yet, if you’re like me, you don’t get nearly as much of this time as we want. Whether it’s your work schedule, or keeping up the house and running errands (or all the above), our daily responsibilities can eat up every last minute of the day. You turn around and you realize you haven’t spent much time with your children.
My background as a Marriage and Family Therapist means that I care deeply about families. How can we make sure that we fight our schedules for as much meaningful time with our children as possible?
Just five minutes of one-on-one time with a child is proven to grow and strengthen the parent-child relationship. Isn’t that encouraging? Small amounts of quality time go a long way. But it’s important HOW we spend these five-minutes of focused one-on-one time that really matters. We have to be present and fully engaged. Let’s look at how we can do this:
First, we have to clear distractions. I know most of us are guilty of walking around the house with our phones in our hands or pockets. When we are intentionally engaging with our children, we have to learn to put the phone down. Leave it on the counter. Then, turn off any other distractions such as TVs or computers. Go somewhere with no digital distractions.
Second, the time we spend with our children should be spent engaging with them on an age-appropriate level. For younger, preschool age children, “play” is great! How often do our toddlers or preschoolers say, “Can you come play with me” and we’ll say, “Not right now, I’m busy.” Too often I’m afraid. Saying yes even for five or ten minutes will grow our bond with our children. For five minutes, stop what you’re doing and go play dress-up or race hot wheel cars or have a pillow fight
For elementary age children, your five minutes may still involve play at times, but also other creative interactions. Maybe it’s drawing animals together or cooking muffins with one another, all the while inquiring about their thoughts or interests, or just maybe telling a story from your childhood.
As they enter preteen and teen years, sitting down and talking is the way to go. However, many teens do better when they don’t have to look at you straight in the eyes while talking. So grab an adult coloring book and chat while you are coloring side by side together, or chat while you’re playing a video game or shooting hoops outside. Be intentional with your questions. Don’t ask just “yes/no” questions but ones that are open-ended to encourage opportunities to talk deeper.
I’d love to hear from you about other ways you can spend focused time within certain age groups. Let’s get a discussion going so we can all help one another create more of these high-quality bonding moments.