We would all benefit from a little more quality family time, that much is true. Indeed, we live in an era when replying to work emails at all hours, being available to take phone calls throughout mealtimes, and spending weekends planning DIY projects around conference calls and the odd snatched moment of family time is not only acceptable, but expected of us. Amongst all of those ‘to dos’ and ‘must dos’, where is there any time for the ‘should dos’ that have our families, and little ones, at their heart?
Spending quality time with your family isn’t just nice, or a break from the daily grind, it’s essential to your little one’s development, and will form the basis of your child’s ability to form and maintain relationships. It will also instill confidence and self-esteem, and teach him or her how to communicate with others. You may crave quality family time, but your child needs those moments – and we’re going to tell you how to make the most of them.
Top tips for enjoying quality time together
With everything else that you’ve got to fit into your day the prospect of finding quality family time can be a daunting one – but it really shouldn’t be. No one should dread spending time with their children or loved ones, feeling as though such moments need to be sandwiched between more ‘meaningful’ tasks, or, heaven forbid, regard quality family time as a wasted opportunity. These moments should be treasured forever; your children will only be young once, so set aside that cell phone, switch on your email’s auto-response, and prepare to make memories.
Sit on the floor
No, really. Spending time with your family doesn’t need to involve big gestures, or expensive days out – sometimes all your little ones want is your undivided attention, and for you to show interest in what they’re doing, be that sitting up for the first time in their baby activity center from Skiphop.com, pushing a new car along the floor, or rolling in ever-decreasing circles until they’re positively dizzy. Your child is a wonder, and those simple, uncomplicated moments are the best you’ll ever spend together. Make a promise to yourself that you’ll spend an hour each evening sat on the floor while your children play, or that you’ll engage with your baby’s bedtime routine at weekends. As they grow up will your children remember the specific places you went to, or the fact that you were there? So, be there whenever you can be.
Enjoy a movie
Despite being one of the very few activities during which no words are needed, family movie nights, or afternoons, are some of the best ways to spend quality time together; a little like a trip to the movie theater, but you won’t be charged an extortionate amount for the ticket or stress about your child’s inability to sit still for longer than five minutes. Whatever the weather is doing outside, family movie time is a great way to while away an afternoon, buried beneath a giant blanket eating popcorn or sweets from a plastic bucket. In addition, such an activity is a great way for parents to de-stress, and to rediscover movies that you loved as a child – watching princess movies and cartoons suddenly becomes socially acceptable again when you have kids.
Take a road trip
Sometimes the very best adventures are the spontaneous ones, so why not pack up a picnic, get into the car, and just drive? Perhaps you live within reach of a theme park, could make your way to the beach by lunchtime, or have always fancied heading into the mountains to enjoy the great outdoors. Jump in puddles, run through a pile of fallen leaves, or roll down a gigantic hill with your arms linked; whatever you do, there’s absolutely no need to be back by dinnertime. Indeed, who’s even keeping an eye on the schedule? Road trips, and the adventures they’ll inspire along the way, are fantastic for families needing some bonding time, and children will adore picking the music, playing car games, and asking whether you’re nearly there yet countless times an hour. Whether the windows are wound down or the heating’s turned up, your car is a vessel to take you into the unknown.
Create a schedule for your family’s quality time
If schedules and organization work for you then make them work for your family too. Rather than waiting for spare moments to present themselves take a pen and highlighter to your diary and create them. Too much of our lives are spent wondering “what if?” but your family shouldn’t have to be on the receiving end of such a notion. Whether you’re creating a recurring appointment each week, scheduling a special event such as a birthday or anniversary, or snapping up a free morning before work takes over, you are in charge of your time – be sure to give a slice of it to your little ones.
Whether you’re eating a meal together, taking the time to listen to your little ones’ as they discuss their favorite things, choosing nicknames for one another, or simply leaving your home-office door open so that the family may pop in and say ‘hello’ every now and again, finding quality time is easier than you think – and won’t require any kind of map. You see, quality time needn’t involve a lot of money, grand gestures of any kind, or even a plan; all your little ones need is you, and a sense of adventure that will transport them anywhere on any given day.