Spend More Quality Time With Your Child
Your children need to spend meaningful time with you. They need to see who you are and how you live your life. And in return, they will help you to better see who you are. When you add up all the time your kids spend at day care, in school, asleep, at friends' homes, with babysitters, at camp, and otherwise occupied with activities that don't include you, the remaining moments become especially precious.
However, instead of worrying about how many minutes you can spend with your children each day, focus on turning those minutes into memorable moments. Parents often compensate for having such a small quantity of time by scheduling "quality time." Two hours at the nature preserve. An afternoon at the movies. Dinner at a restaurant. But the truth is that quality time may occur when you least expect it.
Practice Parenting Meditation:
When you're overwhelmed with your responsibilities, it's easy to toggle into automatic pilot with your kids. But if your mind is elsewhere during the precious moments you've worked hard to preserve, you have lost your kids' childhood just as surely as if you hadn't spent the time with them at all. Instead, try to stay in the moment with a "parenting meditation," in which you focus on seeing your kids, hearing them, understanding them, and really being amazed by what you've created
Take Pajama Walks:
The key to pajama walks is the pajamas. Get the kids completely ready for bed—teeth brushed, faces washed, pj's on. Then put them in their stroller, or on their tricycle, or in their sneakers, and meander slowly around the neighbourhood. It may take a couple laps, but by the time you arrive back home, your kids will be in a fresh-air trance and ready for bed.
Dinner at home with the whole family is special unto itself, but your kids will be even more eager to sit down together when your meal has a theme. You can have pizza night, Chinese night, egg night, or pancake night. Special dinner nights are also a unique opportunity to increase your kids' involvement in cooking with you. When there are recurring themes for dinner, they can assume a bigger role in getting the food to the table because they'll remember the routine from the last time. While they're washing the vegetables, stacking the tortillas, mixing the salsa, grating the cheese, they may be gossiping about what's happening at school.
Fix It Together:
Never repair a leaky faucet, change a tire, paint the fence, or replace the furnace filter without your kids. Home improvements are a great way to spend time with them while teaching them about tools and life at the same time. The attic, the basement, and the crawl space are all classrooms for learning how things work and how to safely fix things. Give them a flashlight, and talk them through the job you're doing. As they get older, hold the flashlight for them. Instead of dreading things that break, you'll see new tiles, built-in shelves, and paint jobs as bonus chances for time with your kids.
Don't Drive Everywhere:
The minutes that we "save" by driving our children a short distance to the neighborhood park or a friend's house are actually priceless moments that we lose in the name of convenience. The next time you need to take your children somewhere nearby, try to get there on foot. Walking with your kids is a great way to slow down the pace of your lives and to have more unscripted moments with them. Talk about where you're going, what you're thinking, what they're thinking, what you see on the way, and who said what to whom in school today. Hold hands if your kids haven't gotten too cool for that yet. If you're dropping them off somewhere and would normally drive away and return again later, take along a backpack with work or reading and find a quiet place to wait until they're finished. The hour or two that you have alone in a coffee shop or under a shade tree will help you slow down and stay sane. Then pick up your child and walk back home together.
Play Their Games:
If you decide to bring video games into your home, do your best to screen them and even learn how to play them so you can experience this part of your kids' world. This is one activity where you'll never have to let them win, and it's a good thing for children to occasionally see their parents as human and vincible. There will be guaranteed hilarity at your lack of dexterity.
Serve Ice-Cream Sundaes and Popcorn:
Establish special traditions around fun treats—they become more special because they don't happen that often. Hot summer Sunday-afternoon sundaes, or cold winter family TV nights with hot cocoa, or popcorn balls on the day of the big game. Sprinkles make ice cream special, and cuddling goes great with cocoa. Fun foods and special treats are conversation starters and memory makers.
If you find a way to make the most of every moment that you have with your kids, you will not only be a wonderful parent, but you will also be teaching your kids how to be good adults and wonderful parents themselves someday. Show your children how important your time with them is, and you will be impacting generations to come.