We’re all busy people. Most adults work forty plus hours a week. If you consider the time that it takes to commute to work and back, the time it takes to get ready for the day, etc., most people are left with two or three hours a day that can be spent connecting with the family.
Let’s face it. Our children live a lot of their lives without us. They’re either watching television, playing video games, talking with friends, or simply existing in another world.
Taking the time to connect with children takes time and energy, both of which are often in short supply. I know from first hand experience how drained I am at the end of a long day of work. My wife is usually worse off than I am, but there’s a silver lining to this cloud. As with all things worth doing, reconnecting with children takes time and effort, but bonding with your children does not need to be difficult.
Here are some simple ideas of how to add a little quality time into your family life.
Create a family night~ Children’s social, recreational, and extracurricular calendars are insanely busy these days. Children can be in soccer, piano lessons, dance, etc. These days it is not unheard of to have every night filled with some non-school activity. Stop the madness–at least for one night. Chose a night and jealously guard the time, making sure that you don’t allow any extracurricular activities to fall on that evening; dub the night “Family Night.”
Use the night to do an all-family activity. Play the games you have in the closet, play a game of cards, make their favorite dinner, watch a family movie (one that everyone can agree upon). Whatever you do, make sure everyone is there and involved in the same activity.
Find a common hobby~ Perhaps you enjoy stamp collecting, baseball card collecting, scrapbooking, or going out to the local airfield to watch the airplanes take off and land. Aim at spending one to two hours a week with your child or children engaged in a hobby that you both enjoy.
Become your child’s coach~ If your child is interested in baseball, become his coach. Coaches for younger children do not need a lot of previous experience in coaching. Speak with other coaches and find out how they became one. Learn the game and become a coach.
Play cards or a board game with them~ Some of my fondest memories as a child were playing Pitch with my mother and cousins. It was a simple card game, but I loved it! Spend half an hour after they finish their homework playing a game of cards with them.
Read a book to your child~ Not only does this increase your child’s cognitive gains, but it also gives them an opportunity to spend time with you. Find a book that you enjoy as well. Ask your children’s teachers what would be an appropriate set of books for your children, and select a few to read to them. Read a chapter a night to your child.
Go fishing, camping, or hiking~ The best part of fishing, camping, and hiking is that it takes the child away from the television or video games and turns their attention to the family. They have to spend time talking with you, and you have to spend time talking with them.
Go out to lunch with your child~ Once a month, chose a child to take out to lunch. It doesn’t have to be an expensive restaurant. Just take that one child to eat and take the time to talk with them. Don’t rush the meal.
Play catch~ Go out into the back yard and toss the ball around for 10-15 minutes. Talk while you’re playing.
Take a walk~ Take a walk around the neighborhood. Not only is it good exercise for everyone involved, but it’s also good time away from the television. The same principle works for riding a bike (as long as they ride with you).
Dedicate one weekend day to family time~ Weekends are a time to unwind. Often, adults crave the companionship of other adults. This may lead you to spending time away from your children. Keep in mind that your family is a priority. They will be with you for the rest of your life whereas your football buddy will not. Take that day to be with your children doing something that you both enjoy.
Spending time with your children need not involve an activity that you don’t enjoy. Find the common ground with your children. Do activities that you can find entertaining. Spend time learning how to talk with your children. Ask questions. Be interested and present for your children. If they can tell that you care about what they have to say, they will trust you and open up more each time. Having a good relationship takes effort. There will be difficulties throughout your relationship, but compromise and a dogged insistence that the relationship works will overcome most (if not all) difficulties. Your family is your most important connection to this world. Don’t take it for granted, or you just might find that you don’t have a family any more.
Photo by: Mike Baird
2009 01 29