It was so good seeing so many dads and their sons attend State of Origin on the big screen at Mueller last week. While the final score was not the preferred outcome for the majority of the 130 dads and boys in attendance, the time to play games, have dinner and hang out together was certainly ideal and what the night serves to achieve.
As parents we are required to juggle a large number of different roles; worker, cook, taxi driver and housekeeper to name a few. Life gets busier, and as the days go by our to-do lists become fuller. All the many priorities on our lists can seem to consistently take precedence over quality time with our children.
Most of us would say we probably do spend a lot of time with our children, especially when they are or were younger. However, upon deeper reflection we may start to realise that while the quantity is evident, it is the quality that probably lacks. After all the majority of the time spent with our children through the week is driving them to and from school, to and from after-school activities, sport or work, or watching TV together. We may even mistakenly classify the times we all sit on our own separate devices in the same room as time together, despite no real interactions taking place.
However, ‘quality time’ is undivided attention time with your children doing tasks together that they like to do. It communicates to our children that we genuinely care about them and has proven to be beneficial to their development and their overall happiness and wellbeing.
Research shows children who have regular quality time with a parent are;
· Less likely to have behavioural issues at home or at school
· More mentally and emotionally strong
· More likely to be physically healthy (Rider, 2018)
Each week at Mueller students are given a challenge as they leave Monday morning assembly and head into the start of the school week. They are reminded that they get ‘one shot at today and this week, so make it your best one!’. This is a mindset we as parents need to take into each and every day with our children. We get one shot at parenting them. We get one shot at parenting them today. Before we know they will have grown up and moved out.
Here are 5 tips for spending quality time with your kids:
1 – One-on-one dates. A great way to create a time and space to ask them questions and for them to answer. Don’t take phones.
2 – Create a bedtime routine ritual. Reading a short story, asking them about their day and tucking them in are such important routines for children that make them feel secure, valued and loved.
3 – Eat dinner together. This allows for the family to talk to one another.
4 – Schedule time to do an activity with your child, let them choose. Such as baking, family game night, etc. If younger, play with them, even if just for a few minutes.
5 – Remove time on technology for a half an hour and just spend time listening and talking to your child.
It is not too late to make a change to intentionally spend more quality time with your children. It can ensure you are not one of many who tomorrow wish they had made that change today. The school holidays are a great opportunity to start.