Like most parents, you're frantically looking to squeeze in some quality time with your kiddos. With activities, getting to and fro, work, and home responsibilities, most parents find they need more than 24 hours in a day.
Yes, we all lead busy lives. And there isn't enough time to get everything done. But everyone has the same 24 hours in their day. How you spend your time is up to you. And creating intention around how you use your time matters.
I want to draw attention to the power of intentional, planned and scheduled quality time for children.
I want to convince you to build in predictable, sacred time for each of your children during the week. This time is sacred, it's predictable, and it's never threatened or withheld.
"I don't have time."
I will point you back to the 24-hour truth. We all have 24 hours. Think about how you are spending that time and look out for inefficiencies and opportunities to condense or reprioritize tasks. From simple chores to ongoing appointments or errands, I guarantee you can find a way to make better use of your time.
My recommendation, of spending intentional time with your child, doesn't have to last hours. Even 15 minutes makes a difference. And it can happen at home. These moments of connection usually fix in nicely with routines and schedules you've already established.
It's such a small gesture.
But the underlying feeling and sentiment lead to extraordinary impacts. You're telling your child: you matter to me. I am going to give you my whole undivided attention during this time.
With this time, you are feeding your child's deepest, most primitive needs for security, connection, and acceptance. All of us carry these needs: the need to be loved, accepted, acknowledged, delighted in. And we all carry the same fears: of not being enough, of failing or losing someone's love, of not being important.
Intentional, predictable, attuned, engaged time with your child matters.
With intention, you are saying, this matters enough for me to plan for it.
With predictability, you are saying, I'm here for you, at this time, on this day, you can count on me.
With attunement, you are saying, I'm curious about you and want to understand you for who you are.
With engagement, you are saying, I am paying full attention to you, without distractions, I want to see your world.
These are the messages that matter most to children. And they are the messages that still matter most to us when we are grown.
With children, quality and predictability matter more than quantity. For example:
- A working parent may decide to set up a routine right when they arrive home to spend 10 minutes with their child. After hours of being apart, this time for reconnection can feel precious.
- A parent might choose to intentionally schedule their time on the playground every Tuesday at 10 AM for 45 minutes. Even if you go every day, Tuesdays are special because you spend more time interacting and exploring together.
- A parent might opt to schedule their time during a younger child's nap time. The younger child can have their time during preschool hours.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Be intentional. Plan for this time together. Put it in your calendar. Set an alarm.
- Talk about it. Share this idea with your child once you've decided on the parameters. Include them in the process and share with them why it's important to you to have that special time together.
- Keep your promise. Once it's been decided and agreed upon, keep your promise. Things come up. Life happens. But pay attention to your broken promises and make sure there isn't anything else going on, like avoidance or anxiety about this time together.
- Follow your child's lead. During this time, allow your child to lead the play and interaction. Observe, follow, just be with them.
- Never withhold or remove this time as a punishment. Quality, intentional time together is not a privilege to earn. It is simply the way that you connect together, and it's meant to eventually become a natural part of your relationship. Withholding this time for punishment destroys the positive messaging and can sour the experience for everyone.