When people hear that they need to spend quality time with their child, they often feel very overwhelmed because they envision being with them from sun up to sun down.
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The fact is, this is not necessary to spend quality time with your child.
We’ve all been there. Your kids don’t bug you until you pick up the phone, have a conversation with your spouse, pay attention to a sibling, pay attention to your phone, etc. Any of these things happen and they seem to be all over you or they’re getting into something they’re not supposed to.
Our immediate reaction is to yell, get frustrated, or even ignore because they’re attention seeking. That’s what we’ve been taught by our parents, right?
There is a way to get ahead of this. Scheduling quality time with your child so they know when to expect it will help cut down on all of those interruptions and frustrations.
When I see these complaints in the mom groups about kids misbehaving or stalling bedtime, my first question is “do you get quality time with your child?” Typically the answer is “I don’t have time.” They all of a sudden think it has to be 24/7 alone time. It doesn’t!
What is considered quality time with your child?
As I said earlier, quality time with your child does not mean you have to be with them from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed. Truly, all a child needs is scheduled, expected quality time, 20 minutes a day. That’s it! Put your phone away, occupy siblings (if possible), turn off screens. Just you and your child(ren), doing something they choose.
How do you spend quality time with your child?
- Schedule it: Make sure it is consistent. Kids love and need predictability and routine. Schedule the alone time after or before something that always happens – meals, snacks, bedtime, wake time, etc. This helps them because an actual time can be arbitrary for a kid. So, after lunch, before bed, when you wake up, etc. This also helps YOU prepare for it.
- Don’t use it as a reward or deny it as punishment: Regardless of their behaviors, it should happen. Spending quality time with your child should be a part of your day, not a reward for behaving.
- Let them pick the activity: This is SO HARD FOR ME. I do not like make believe play. In fact, I hate it. But allowing your child to choose the activity for quality time really allows them to share what they love which is huge. If it’s something you hate, don’t fake it. They’ll know.
- Put away all distractions: This is huge also. All of your attention should be on them. If you have the ability, keep siblings busy also. TV, stagger bedtimes, spouse help.
- Have a time limit set. Set a timer for 15 minutes or agree to 2 rounds of a game. Gives a clear beginning and end for both of you.
How do you find time for one on one time?
- Schedule, schedule, schedule. Pay close attention to what you’re doing now with your free time. 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there. These are great pockets of time to spend with your child.
- Stagger bedtimes: We stagger bedtimes in our house so that each kid can have some quality time with us. They get 10-15 minutes every night with one of us. They know when to expect it so it isn’t ever a surprise.
- In the car: Feel like you spend most of your time in the car? Take a kid with you on a quick errand and spend the car time chatting about your day or a popular topic he likes.
- Nix the TV: I know, this sounds miserable for everyone involved. But when some kids are watching TV, have one come with you into the other room while you guys read a book, do a puzzle, etc.
- Meal times: If your kids are of the age where meal time isn’t always a battle, take that time to talk about their day.
Why should you spend quality time with your child?
Spending quality time with your child allows you to connect with your child. As humans, we love to share our favorite things with the people we love. Kids are included in this as well! Your kids love you and they want to share their favorite things and experiences with you.
It also helps “fill their bucket.” In my experience, tantrums and fights almost are never about the situation at hand – the toy they’re fighting over, the thing they want, etc. It’s about needing that attention from you, positive or negative. Scheduling the alone time makes them know it’s coming. Remind them of it in times of stress.
What can you do while spending quality time with your child?
- Let your child choose! They want to share something they love with someone they love.
- Do a puzzle. My kids are into puzzles and we’ll spend about 10-15 minutes doing parts of a larger piece puzzle and keep it up in my office until we’re done with it.
- Read a chapter book: We chose a series of chapter books and really loved Treasure Hunters by James Patterson.
- Eye Spy books/games: These are also popular in our house!
- Check out this post on card games for toddlers.
- Sensory play: This is a great opportunity to build in sensory play for toddlers. If you’re looking for sensory bin ideas, check out my sensory bin playbook with 50 sensory bin ideas per age!