We all know that spending quality time with our children is important. The quality of the time we spent with our children is more important than the quantity of time we spend with them. While it would be nice to have an unlimited amount of time (and money) to focus on coming up with activities and adventures to stimulate our children and build our relationship with them, most of us don’t. The good news it that you don’t have to come up with elaborate, time-consuming or costly ways to get quality time with your children daily.
Here are 7 simple ways that my husband and I spend quality time with my boys, even in the busy seasons.
1. I include my children in dinner preparation most days. I cook dinner at home most nights. Since I cook from scratch, dinner prep takes time. I take that time to include my children in the dinner prep. While we peel potatoes, chop veggies and create yummy marinades, we talk. They tell me about their day, we talk about what they’re learning in their school lessons and they learn important life skills — like the difference between scallions and shallots.
2. My youngest son reads to me each evening. My youngest son is an extravert. He’s the only extravert living under our roof. Sometimes the rest of us are worn out from talking, but he is still going strong. When I am exhausted and can’t muster the energy to make interesting conversation, we grab a book, head to my bed and he reads to me.
Reading is something that we need to do together daily anyway. This way of spending time together fulfills his need to chat and allows me rest while snuggling with my sweet boy. It usually takes about 10-15 minutes, depending on the difficulty level of the book he chooses.
3. I engage my boys while I am driving. We have a 30 minute commute to soccer practice three evenings each week. I use that time to listen to them. Sometimes they just want to talk about random happenings or ask questions that have been on their mind. This is the perfect time to listen to them and to answer those questions.
4. My husband watches short videos and listens to podcasts with our sons several nights per week. Most evenings, before the boys’ bedtime, my husband takes his iPod into one of the boys’ rooms and they all gather around. They listen to current new events, watch videos about science and history and other topics of interest. This always sparks interesting conversation and is an important time for sharing our worldview and values with the boys. This only takes about 15 minutes of my husband’s time.
5. We include the children in errands and household tasks. Last weekend we needed a new pipe to replace a broken one. My husband had to make two trips to the store for the supplies and each time he offered to take the boys. My middle son wanted to go with him alone the first time because he needed some one-on-one time with dad. My youngest chose to go the second time. (My oldest gets lots of one-on-one with my husband since they’re at the soccer field together all the time.)
Including children in these seemingly mundane life tasks is a great opportunity to teach them life skills and spend quality time with them all at once.
6. I demand time to myself in order to spend more time with them later. This may sound surprising, especially considering my gentle parenting ideals, but it’s true. When I am at home and need to write or do school work or plan their school work or do chores, they are required to entertain themselves.
A thousand little interruptions to my work flow causes work to take more time overall, which leaves less quality time to spend with them in the end. Remember, it’s quality over quantity when it comes to time spent with your children!
7. I practice gentle discipline. I don’t waste my precious time with my children yelling at them or punishing them. Who has time for that? Instead I turn behavior “issues” into opportunities to teach them something new about life and how to operate in the world in a way that will create success.
And speaking of success, I don’t set them up to fail. I don’t try to trick them or trap them into making mistakes so that I can punish them or “teach them a lesson”. I save us all time by being as proactive as I can be without over-functioning for them.
The time that we save by not having battles of will or harboring anger toward each other is spent showing them love. And real love is quality stuff!
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