When you’re balancing commitments for the whole family, it sometimes seems impossible to spend quality time with your kids. Yes, amid the COVID-19 crisis, we are spending a lot of time around our kids.
But studies show that the quality of time you spend together is more important than the quantity of time. And when you take the time to understand your children’s struggles and goals, you can help them.
Investing in your relationship with your kids, can be a real game changer. Here are thirteen fun ways to spend quality time with your children, even when you feel completely strapped for time.
1) Family Game Night
If you can, try to organize a family board game night, even if it’s just once a month. You can always play classic board games like Risk, but there are tons of other options too, varying in length and difficulty. Trivia or Pictionary are always favorites.
Or you can break out a deck of cards and teach your kids a game like cribbage or rummy. This will help them with basic math, or help them learn to recognize and put together patterns.
2) Let Them Help
Children innately are helpers – they just may not be very good at it, especially when they’re young. When you’re in a hurry, you might direct them to go do anything else while you just finish these last few chores.
Try to suppress that. Instead, let your kids help with the chores. To make this work, do chores together that are age-appropriate, and don’t criticize the way your children do the work. They learn by example, so show them how you do it.
And while they’re still learning, come up with other ways to cope with incomplete chores. For example, one father was proud his young child was sweeping the kitchen floor, as the chore list requested. But while they were doing a good job for their age, the child missed crumbs everywhere. His solution? Wear house slippers.
Your children can help you get more work done, and it’s a great time to chat and get to know each other. Who knows? They may still call to chat while they’re doing chores as an adult.
3) Play With Them
Depending on their age, kids naturally love to play and pretend. Join them in their play! Play dolls, princesses, superheroes, kitchen. Play board games or join them on the playground. Whatever game your child is playing, ask if you can join them, and let them give you a roll in their imaginary world.
4) Listen to Them
Learn to practice empathetic listening with your children. Naturally, we want to fix their every problem. But when we immediately propose a solution, they often don’t feel like their struggles are being heard.
Read a book or take a course to get an idea of how you can better communicate with your children. Understand it’s going to take practice, but it can help you get the most out of every moment.
5) Spend Time Doing an Activity to Show You Support Them
What does your child love to do? Maybe they’re passionate about their school band or theater or a sport they’re playing. Show up to their games, or help them fundraise so they can keep doing what they love.
6) Exercise Together
Exercising is an other great way to spend quality time with your children. By exercising together, you teach your children the value of being healthy and taking care of your body. Show them effective warm-up, stretching and muscle building exercises that you have learned over time and show them how to perfect the techniques.
Of course, they can join you at the gym and lift light weights, but that’s not the only option. They can also join you in yoga classes, or at a rock climbing gym. You can even practice sports together and get a good workout in.
7) Cook Dinner Together
Cooking is another valuable life skill that can encourage healthy eating habits and teach your kids to save money by cooking at home. With one meal, you get to spend quality time with your child, teach a vital life skill, and prepare a healthy meal for the whole family.
Choose meals that your child can help with. Tossing stir fry in a hot pan is probably too advanced for young kids, but they can stir a pot of spaghetti sauce or break the ends off green beans. For the youngest children, they can toss vegetables around in a bowl of water to rinse them off.
8) Take Advantage of Little Windows of Time
Not every chunk of quality time has to come in huge increments; small moments count too, like waiting to pick up siblings, or an extra 15 minutes early in the morning.
Make a habit of noticing when these small windows of time are available, and learn to use them.
You don’t necessarily even have to be in the same room as your children to let them know you love them. If you know your schedule is going to keep you busy, add notes to their school bags or lunches. You can also record a good morning video when you have to be off to work early.
These little interactions let your children know you love them and you’re thinking about them, even when you can’t actually be there with them.
9) Go For a Drive
Have you ever noticed that you always have the best conversations when you’re on a nice long road trip? It can work the same way with your kids, too.
If you want to make an adventure out of it, pick a cool spot about an hour away and visit it with your child.
But even small trips with just the two of you can spur conversations, like to or from the store, or out on errands. If you’re trying to get your child to open up, talk about your personal experiences first, to help stir up the conversation.
10) Take Advantage of Tech
Maybe your parents didn’t like that you played video games when you were a child or teenager. And now you live in a world where technology powers everything.
Let your kids teach you about their favorite video games. You can have them tutor you, or play multiplayer games together.
Video games are a great way to connect with your child that many people ignore. You can create amazing things together in a game like Minecraft, or learn to fight off challenges and trust each other in survival games. The possibilities are endless.
11) Create Crafts or DIY
Is your Pinterest board full of cute craft ideas or DIY projects? Get your kids involved! They’ll learn the pleasure of creating something with their hands and making something look new again.
You can also put together cool DIY science projects like a potato battery or a solar-powered RC car. They get something cool, and they learn something.
This is something that can serve them for the rest of their lives. They can save money on DIY projects down the line, or learn to repurpose the stuff around them. They can even use the skill as a side hustle in the future to upcycle old furniture or create an Etsy store.
And you’ll get to finally use up all your Pinterest pins.
12) Let Them Teach You
If your child has something they’re passionate about, let them teach you about it. But try to learn what they’re learning about. By asking questions, they can deepen their understanding of a topic, and you can learn about their passions and interests.
Reading is arguably one of the most vital skills a child can learn. By opening up a passion for reading and books you unlock the entire written universe to them.
Try to make a habit of reading to your child, maybe as part of a bedtime routine. As they get older, they can read to you.
Learn to give your characters their unique voices, especially for a favorite group of stories. It’s something even your older kids will appreciate as they grow up.
Stick to Your Commitments
You lead a hectic life. There’s a lot you have to take care of daily. So when your child asks you to join them in play, it’s okay to tell them not now.
But also make sure to tell them when you can. Teach your kids that they can rely on you when you say you’ll do something. Hold your commitments with your children with the same ferocity you stick to every other commitment in your life.
It’ll pay off, and you’ll get the quality time your kids deserve.
Make Quality Time With Your Children a Priority
Raising kids can be stressful and exhausting. On top of that, you have to balance all of your other life commitments like friendships, work, and keeping your house intact.
But investing in one-on-one quality time with your kids is vital to their well-being and yours. And, it can be enjoyable for both of you. Take advantage of little chunks of time. Partner it with other healthy activities, or schedule parent-child “dates” into your calendar.
These little events will add up to help you have a healthy, supportive relationship with your child.
Talk with your child now and find out how they want to spend some quality time together. Then make it happen.