Elin Swain, managing director of Nannies Matter, shares her tips on spending more quality time with your children.
Time is a precious commodity for many parents. Going to work, cooking meals, cleaning and doing laundry can take up so much of our time, making it difficult to devote time to our little ones. However, it’s important to ensure we spend quality time with our children, as this not only helps to improve their happiness and your relationship with them, but also plays a part in their development.
Most children will let you know if you are not giving them the attention they need by changing their behaviour. They may become withdrawn, act out by misbehaving at school, fight with other children and, in some instances, resort to behaviours such as crying, throwing tantrums and wetting the bed – the things you paid attention to when they were a baby or toddler.
So, to avoid this, how can we find more time to spend with our loved ones?
Plan something you both enjoy
When you are able to spend some alone time with your kids, it’s always best to choose something you both enjoy doing, especially if you’re only able to set time aside to do an activity once or twice a month. This could be anything from going to the cinema, playing in the park or visiting a theme park or museum. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s memorable so that your child can hold onto a fond memory until the next time you do something together.
A great idea is to put up a calendar in your home with the dates of your next activity marked out clearly. This shows your child that this time is dedicated to them, and will give them something to look forward to.
Even the busiest of us should have enough time for a hug, whether it’s first thing in the morning, when you’ve returned home from work, or when you’re settling the kids down for the night. A hug or other sign of affection can improve a child’s behaviour as it is known to lift spirits and relieve stress, while also strengthening the bond between you and your little ones.
Work around your job
Today’s workplace offers much more flexibility, something that parents should take advantage of to ensure they have enough time to spend with their family. Advancements in technology have allowed work to be carried out as productively at home as it is in the office, something that many companies now favour. Other workplaces allow employees to work shifts other than the traditional nine to five, enabling them to spend more time with their children by dropping them off or picking them up from school.
Involve the children
For many working parents, spare time is filled with chores that you think will be completed quicker if done away from the kids. However, this can be a great time for some quality bonding, as children love to help and mimic their parents, and they make great little helpers too. For example, if you need to hang out some washing, have them pass you the pegs. If you’re making dinner, give them a simple preparation task to do. Or, if you really need to get some work done, set up a workstation next to yours and give them some paper and crayons, so they are kept busy and feel like a part of what you’re doing.
If you’re busy, or even tired after a day of work, you should commit at least 15 minutes to spending some uninterrupted time with your children. Chat about their day or ask them what they would like to do on your next activity day. Any interaction is better than none at all, and although 15 minutes might not seem like a great deal of time to you, it will make your kids feel special.
Setting time aside for your children has a wealth of benefits for both you and them. It gives you a well-deserved break from work, shows your children that they are loved and helps create memories that you will be thankful for later in life.