SELF CARE FOR PARENTS
Planning For Quality Time
We knew we wanted our children to have a great relationship with us so we made it a priority. And we knew the only way to have a quality relationship was to spend time with them. So we tried to spend some fun time with them everyday.
Some days we spent hours playing in the pool or at the beach with them. On cooler days we played games like Guess Who, or Hungry Hippos, or the Pirate Game, or Lego or card games. Or we ran outside playing imaginative games, fighting dragons, or baddies, or playing hide and seek, or chasies. On wet days we made cubbys in the lounge room. Or we painted or made playdough or created things from pieces of cardboard and sticky tape, or wood and nails.
Now obviously, there were weekends, and sometimes this routine was interrupted when we got home late. But our goal was to try to ensure lost evenings of reading were made up through the week.
I've been told by a number of parents their lives are too busy and they don't have time to read to their children. And I'm sure that's how they really feel. They're both working long hours and there isn't enough time left over after feeding kids, bathing them and getting them to bed. And I get it. I did it too.
But I wonder if it could be a question of priorities, or perhaps better organization.
I recall a woman telling me of her son's difficulty with reading. I suggested her setting up a routine of reading with him for ten minutes a day. But she said she couldn't find the time to do that because she was renovating her house.
The sad part is, if you don't make your children a priority, they know it.
If you have positive relationships within your family, and you work together, there's less time wasted on things like: behavioural issues, remediating your children when they can't perform well at school, or repairing damaged relationships.
There are some things you only get one go at, and there are no reruns. Raising your children well is one of them, so planning for quality time with them is important.
And it's usually more important than the urgency of a phone call, or a routine task for work that you could complete later. Or even getting the housework done.
One thing I learnt that has remained a constant throughout my adult life is...
If I don't plan my time, someone else will often fill my time for me.
It could be my children, my partner, my parents, my friends. My work alone was so open ended, it could have taken every minute of every day, if I let it. And at times, I had so many things going on, that until I prioritised for quality time, my life was too crisis driven.
So how can you ensure, you and your family get quality experiences, when there are so many responsibilities in your life?
I found planning ahead and having routines in place was the only way for us to consistently create quality experiences in our life.
Basically we made ourselves available and they chose the activity. And we didn't skimp on the time with them.
Sometimes we did it as a reward for great behaviour. For example: We have an extra large garden. Every weekend we'd spend a few hours in it. Sometimes the children would help us plant things, other times they'd play on the swings or dig in the sand pit. But every time they co-operated with us, we gave them a reward of our time. They learnt by co-operating they got more of what they wanted. And it was fun. Spending time playing with them was probably some of the happiest times of my life.
We also wanted our children to be smart, and to become so, they needed to have a good vocabulary, so they could understand more of what was being said to them. And one of the most effective ways of creating a wide vocabulary for them, was through reading a variety of quality books on a regular (ideally daily) basis. After I read stories I even had stories that played as they went off to sleep.
Reading was a great activity because it also contributed to the positive relationship we had with our children.
To set this up, I planned for the children to go to bed at 7:30 whenever possible and we read a number of children's books. Sometimes we took turns. While one cleaned up the dinner dishes and repacked bags ready for the next day, the other read them stories.
This Excerpt from A Fifth Child by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton says it perfectly
'Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
For babies grow up we've learnt to our sorrow
So quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.'
For ideas about ranking your priorities and making better use of your time go to the following links:
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