How to prioritise quality time with your kids

In the end, kids won’t remember that fancy toy or game you bought for them, they will remember the time you spent with them.

Kevin Heath, founder of More4Kids

There is a reason why our children demand so much of our attention, and it’s not just to annoy us! 

To become a well-rounded individual, every human needs a healthy attachment to their parents and for that bond to grow throughout childhood.

From your child’s perspective, it’s a kind of hunger. They crave quality time with their parents because of its nutritional value.

It’s no wonder they get niggly when they don’t receive it. 

This makes parents totally aware and then worry that they are not spending enough quality time with their kids. The daily lives of working parents are ridiculously busy, but I can tell you, despite that, it is possible to create quality time every single day.

Firstly, let me explain that the most crucial aspect here is the quality of the time and not the duration. Secondly, there are some clever ways to sneak this quality time into your day without sacrificing other things you need to accomplish.

And thirdly, it’s well worth it.

Not only for the long-term benefits of your kid turning out to be a well-adjusted adult, but as soon as you start investing a little time, you will notice a difference.

I am still amazed to this day how my kids’ behaviour varies from one weekday to another, depending on whether we carved out time to play and give them our loving attention. 

So don’t be surprised when you notice them generally feeling more secure and cooperative (yay!).

Over the long term, you will deepen the bond with your child. Feeling heard and understood builds trust. This means they will be more likely to share their concerns with you (and less likely to go off the rails).

What we mean by quality time

Quality time means devoting time to your child where you give them undivided attention. It sounds simple, but there is one significant thing that makes all the difference. 

Your presence. 

Being present means focusing on the current moment and not thinking about the future (e.g. being distracted by thoughts of what’s on your to-do list). 

This is also not the time for multitasking or scrolling through Instagram!

Your kids need to know they are the centre of your world for a while each day. Children know when their parent’s attention is divided, you can’t fool them (and they will definitely pay you back for it!).

Read Next: My 5 rules for a successful day as a working mum

How to inject quality time into your day without sacrificing your schedule

Parents often think ‘quality time’ means scheduling a specific event like a beach trip or a meal out. But the fact is, your child sees any moment of connection between you as quality time.

This means that even if your day is packed with work, school, cooking, cleaning, shopping, homework, clubs, exercise and laundry, you can make some magical quality time out of it.

All you need to do is change the focus to being more present. From your child’s perspective, that is what counts. 

If you are mindful and present and interact at a deeper level with your children, every moment in your day can be used as a quality time top-up.

The school run: 

Ask them questions about what they are learning, their friendships, the teacher. Tell them about your day as well. Put some music on and sing together. 

Cooking dinner:

Get them involved somehow, and give them responsibilities (they love it). Even little children can help lay the table. Remember to interact at a deeper level – it’s not just a chore to get through. Make it fun and enjoy it. 

Homework:

Instead of seeing it as an inconvenience, helping with homework is another opportunity for quality time with your child. Clear the decks and remove all distractions (and no multitasking).

Bedtime routine:

Try being fully present when they are getting themselves to bed. It’s a different ball game!

These daily moments add up

So if you have been asking yourself, “do I spend enough quality time with my kids?”, you will see that the quantity soon starts to add up.

Also, from one day to another, their need for connection and quality time will vary, so don’t try to be perfect, and above all, do not set a timer. 

What matters is that you do it every day, (be fully present for as long as you can!). When you listen to your children’s cues, you become aware of how you can adapt to what you can do and what they respond well to. 

Planned quality time

It’s still important to have some pre-planned special time with your children. But with the day-to-day quality time taken care of, there will be less guilt and, therefore less pressure to make it perfect.

This doesn’t mean creating a strict regime; we are talking about ring-fencing some time designed for them, separate from the daily schedule.

I have found that when I’m less strict on our agenda, not trying to force things onto them, giving them notice, my kids are so much more receptive; fewer tantrums, fewer cries, fewer screams… 

So, things like:

  • Painting & drawing
  • Playing board games
  • Exercise and physical play outdoors 
  • Going for walks in nature

Remember, whatever activity you choose, this is also a time for you – to disconnect from outside distractions and worries. Use it as an excuse to limit your social media time! 

You will discover that spending quality time is not just for the kids but good for you, too.

Alice Chepeau
Verified Coach
Verified for professional standards and commitment to clients. Read more Close

Alice Chepeau is a certified transformational life coach helping parents to flourish without sacrificing themselves. Focus on you first and the rest will follow. Find out how; email hello@alicechepeau.com or book a free consultation here.

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