In between work, school, evening activities and sleep, it feels almost impossible to spend quality time with your children on a day-to-day basis. And every day you don’t get to enjoy their company is a missed opportunity. They’re getting older and you’ll only have less opportunities to see them as they gain more independence.
If you feel like your kids are practically strangers in your household, you don’t have to decide between quitting your job or abandoning your kids. Although you may be pressed for free time as a busy adult, the science suggests that spending an enormous amount of time with your children isn’t necessary to maintain a good relationship, so long as the time is well-spent. This means teaching them about the building blocks of life, instead of just sitting by them and nagging them for conversation in between chores. Here are five tips on achieving more quality time with your kids that benefit your kids.
1. Plan and cook meals with your child
One of the best ways to spend quality time with your child and instill invaluable life skills into him is by involving him in meal planning and cooking. By planning meals together, you can talk about trying new foods and experiences, meals you do and don’t enjoy, and the healthy components of a balanced dish. This gives you the education to teach your child smart, budget-friendly and healthy shopping habits so that he carries them with him as an adult, and also gives you the opportunity to bond over time spent together. Over cooking, you can talk about your day, form new memories and impart even more necessary life skills. Eating dinner with everyone at the table to finish the night is perhaps the best way to spend quality family time together.
2. Take walks together
Most people in the United States simply aren’t getting enough exercise in their day-to-day lives. It’s not unusual for your child to still be bouncing off the walls late into the night just as you realize you only walked 3,000 steps today. Take the opportunity to combine time with your child and exercise - go for nightly walks together before bed. A gentle stroll at night can be calming and peaceful, and younger children will think it’s a fun and unique opportunity they wouldn’t be allowed to do on their own. You can talk about what you say or just walk together and share the experience. By the time you get back home, your child may be sufficiently pooped out to head straight to bed.
3. Involve them in home projects
Another great way to impart life skills on your child while enjoying quality time together is by involving her in home projects around the house. When you’re planning on repainting the office, bring her a small paint roller and give her a patch of wall to paint herself. If you’re building a fire pit, have her hand you tools and explain the steps you’re taking to her. You can expose her to the regular tasks required to maintain a home, and spend time with her for a bonding experience. As a bonus, if you get her involved in home projects, she may have greater appreciation for the care it requires to maintain a home, and might treat your walls and furniture with a little more thoughtfulness.
4. Help out with homework nightly
One of the best ways you can spend time with your child is helping her complete her homework. By participating in her studies, you can track her progress and see both what she’s learning and how she’s doing. By helping her out, you can help reinforce lessons she’s learning in class. Be careful not to do her homework for her - let her solve problems and explain what she’s doing as she does so. Staying involved in her schoolwork ensures she’s doing it all, she’s learning it adequately and she’s getting help when she doesn’t understand a concept.
5. Hold weekend movie nights
Although you should generally try to plan helpful activities with your child instead of sitting in front of a TV, one excellent way to bond is to hold a weekly family movie night. Set up a camp in the backyard and project the movie onto the side of the garage, or make a new dessert or snack to accompany your movie night on the TV in the living room. Turn all the lights off and cuddle under a blanket as you enjoy a new film together.
Remember, time spent with your kids is about helping them learn the lessons they need to succeed in life. You don’t have to block out daily quality time with your child - instead, try to include her in your day-to-day life, and let conversation flow naturally instead of forcing it.