When is the last time that you spent uninterrupted, quality time with your kiddo?
Let me clarify before you answer. Not you doing something and your kiddo is there with you, not both of you on screens but in the same proximity, not riding in the car listening to music or the radio… I mean quality time. Time where you bond on a deeper level, where distractions are not allowed, conversation is purposeful, and your kiddo is your number one focus.
Why is this so important? Isn’t observing your child’s behavior, spending time together (even though you’re multitasking in that time), and reassuring your kids that you will always be there for them when they need, good enough? After all, our time as moms seems all consumed already with working and playing chauffeur and logistics and school and meals and extracurricular activities and… should I go on? Aren’t those things enough of an indicator of your love for your child?
That’s difficult to answer because it does sorely depend on what relationship you want with your kid. If you want them to know you love them simply by actions, then yes, it’s enough. But if you long for something deeper, a relationship that has a foundation of emotional safety and open communication, then you will need to augment your efforts.
Here are some ideas for quality time moments with your kids that you can incorporate even into some of the busiest schedules:
Dinner time discussion with purposeful conversation. In my house, we consistently discuss a couple of topics. One, “what was the best part of your day? And what was the worst part of your day?” Even the parents get to answer this one, showing your kiddos that even grownups have good and bad days. The other conversation is a little more lighthearted but is incredibly important in allowing parents to let their guards down and enjoy some carefree conversations. It’s called “would you rather.” Take turns going around the table and posing some ridiculous scenarios. For example, “would you rather: 1) be able to read everyone’s minds all the time or 2) be able to speak any language.” Everyone gets to make up a situation, and everyone takes turns to answer, sparking some very interesting dinner table talks.
Wish upon the stars. This one is a newer tradition in my home, and I’m incredibly blessed to have found something that is both fun and engaging for our family. After bath time and before bedtime, on a night with clear skies, we grab a blanket and head outside. We lay the blanket down in the back of our pickup truck, then we lay down and stare up at the stars. No music, no distractions, just quality conversations. If we are lucky enough to see a shooting star, we all get to make a wish, making the night extra special.
Go for a walk, or bike ride, or scooter ride, and leave the electronics at home. My 7-year-old and I do this a couple of times a week. She tells me all about what’s going on in her life. We laugh, sing, talk, and then talk some more. Yes, getting exercise is a fringe benefit, but building the habit of open communication is essential. Use this time to ask questions, probe their feelings, and offer both advice and encouragement.
It takes effort for you to demonstrate to your child that quality time is impactful, necessary, and worth the investment. It takes putting down the distractions, opening up, and learning about your kiddo. I crave this deeper relationship, because I know that the foundation is laid for my kids to come to me when they are in distress.
As they grow, distress is inevitable when navigating the insane waters of life, and I want to be their first anchor for safety and love.