As I sit next to my ten year old's bed, she reads her "Girls World" magazine to me. As she finishes, she turns to her sleeping position. "Mommy, can you rub my feet and tell me a story?"
When Lyric was much younger I told her stories almost nightly. Silly stories, beautiful stories, even stories I stole from movies that she never saw so she would still think I was making them up. That was mostly on the nights I just wanted to go to bed. Bed time has always been our quality/irreplaceable time together.
A lot of home time is spent cooking, cleaning, grading papers, doing homework, reading, and sports practice. We are very limited when it comes to time for just the two of us. We live in the same house, yet miss each other. I sit in bed at night and worry if I'm spending enough quality time with her.
Children crave attention from their parents. Many developmental theories suggest the importance of giving kids the attention they need, to an extent, so that they can be successful adults some day. Now this doesn't mean you should always drop everything to make them happy. No. Children still need to learn patience. Though it is important for us to spend time with them individually, play with them, or watch them do something when they keep on and on, "Mommy watch this, watch this." It can get annoying, sure. Especially when I'm trying to get something done.
Our children crave our attention because we are the center of their little worlds. Society has high expectations for mothers and we feel guilty for everything we do, wondering if we did the right thing. But what if we are too busy or have three kids! Even stay at home moms lack the hours in the day to focus on each individual child's needs for quality time.
But if we just remember that it isn't about the quantity of time, rather the QUALITY of time...we might feel a little better as parents.
Here are some ideas that can make spending quality time with your children simple, meaningful and a part of your daily life.
1. Share Family Stories
Children do like hearing stories about when they were younger, when you were a child, or your family’s history. Do this before they are a teenager!!! Dig out some old photos of yourself or your child and look through them together. Start a family album together so it can be a regular activity that you are both adding to.
2. Have Dinner Together
Growing up, my family always ate dinner together. It was always important to my parents and now it is important to me. We had a strong family system and I want the same thing with my child. Even on the nights I'm too tired to cook and she wants to make her own Ramen noodles or turkey sandwich; we will sit together at the table with our separate meals, and enjoy conversation and food together. This is a chance to talk about your days. Ask some of those fun questions I recommended in that other post ;) HERE. This is a great opportunity for at least 15 minutes of quality time.
3. Leave Notes
Children love surprises, no doubt. I leave notes in Lyric's lunch sometimes with little drawings, or I'll put a note on her desk. I even send her messages on her iPad. They will be thrilled to get a message from you and might even learn to write notes in return. My daughter leaves sweet notes in my lunch from time to time now and also loves writing me little letters. Children will model your behavior, so this little tip might pay off as a reward to yourself. Read my post about raising a kid child here.
4. Fix Things Together
I don't mean just legos. Do you need to paint the laundry room or fix a broken toy? Children love to help fix things. If we just want it done quickly, this might seem irritating to have them help. My daughter loves to cook. She is a huge Bobby Flay fan and wants to be a chef. When she first started helping me, honestly it seemed like we were never going to get done, or I would have to redo something she just did. But through all of the quiet irritation, she has become a pretty good little cook. So that quality time turned into a daughter that can cook me dinner when she's feeling like it! Huge Pay Off! Kids just want to be helpful. They want to feel like they know something others don't, or can do something other's cant do. These tasks will help them feel good about themselves, and also gives you lots of time to interact.
5. Go for Walks
Here in Texas the nicest time to go for a walk is usually after dinner during the summer, or after school during the cooler months. Find the nicest time to take your child on a walk. If you have multiples, schedule a day for each one individually. Family walks or bike rides are also nice for bonding.
Walking actually makes it easier for people of all ages to bring up difficult topics. This might be why they always say "lets take a walk" in movies when there's about to be bad news. On our walks, just as soon as our feet hit the street, my daughter asks, "So, what do you want to talk about?" It's the most adorable thing. Give it a try.
6. Read together (quietly or aloud)
Reading to your children or even reading books together for half an hour on the couch is a great way to spend time together. Choosing books for each other to read and discussing them are ways to share ideas and values with your children. Lyric and I read devotionals together and talk about them afterwards. If you have a girl, the devotional book we have is below! It is a great book I recommend to all moms of girls! I also linked the boy version, which uses Minecraft to help boys understand choices, etc. Just click the pic for more details.
7. Plan a day trip each month (ok, this one might cost a few dimes)
Think of a new place to visit each month. It doesn't have to cost anything! A nearby city park you haven't visited in a while is a great idea. Take them shopping for new (whatever it is they have worn out that month) and swing by Cold-stone Creamery on the way home. Sit inside to enjoy the ice cream together! Go to Starbucks and let them order a caffeine free something or another, while you sip your coffee and chat. Perhaps it’s a museum or something educational. Whatever you choose, try to spend as little time as possible on your phone. This is hard for all of us, but they know the phone steals their attention.
Moms, just remember, it’s the little things that matter the most. When you are overwhelmed with life and you feel like you haven’t had time with your kids, remember that those small, special moments are what they need.
What are some things you do with your kids? Give us your ideas.
Just a girl trying not to suck at life and attempting to help other moms.
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