Making Time for Your Children: Guidelines

Parents start bonding with their kids right from the time they know that they are going to have a baby. It becomes even stronger when they see the ultrasound images of the foetus and listen to the heartbeat. For the mother it becomes even stronger as the child grows in the womb for 9 months. The unknown bond is formed, but the actual bonding in the world has to take place. As you know, relationships of any type take care, time, and effort to develop. Bonding with your kids as they grow, also requires, time, effort, and care.

  • Unplug: When the kids want to talk to you put away all the devices—phones and laptops and give them undivided attention. Give them your full attention for a while and then you as you get into the groove of the talk, you can do some activities (depending on the seriousness of the topic of discussion). Pick up tasks that don’t require your concentration so that you can listen to your kids. Be open to conversation about what is happening in their lives. This is how you can have productive conversation with your kids—when they want to speak. They won’t be in a mood to speak when you are in a mood to listen.
  • Have a family meal together: Setting aside time to sit down as a family and share a meal is very important. You must heard the saying, “Family that eat together stay together stay together.” Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging. It is also the perfect opportunity to teach your children appropriate table manners, meal etiquette, and social skills.Eliminate any distractions, such as the television, newspaper, or mobile so you can focus on having uninterrupted and some quality conversation.It may be difficult to always make it for dinner, but don’t let that stop you. Be creative. Maybe you can share breakfast and lunch on weekends instead. If you cannot make it for dinner, the family can have a special dessert time.
  • Turn off the TV: If you have your family meals (especially dinner) together, make it a habit to turn off the TV. You will be able to talk better and will allow you to focus on your meal and your conversation. Apart from distracting you, it also adds another level of noise and stress. Later, you may watch a particular show together. That will be an icing on the cake.
  • Watch TV with kids:  Make it a point to sit with the kids and watch TV along with them.  You will find that it far more enjoyable watching something which both you and your child can enjoy—laugh together, comment together, make fun together.  This is one of the easiest way to bond with the kids as they feel confident that even you can think at their level and can enjoy kiddies things. Then you can discuss the good and bad with your children.
  • Steal the Moments: You are busy. Your kids are busy. Your spouse is busy. All are busy. Most of the kids like talk with their parents, but there are some who have learnt that you are “always” busy and rather chat with someone else but you. So, you have to take advantage of opportunities to strike up a conversation with your children, even if you have to steal some moments to do it—in the car, before going to bed, while reading, while watching TV, during dinner, etc.
  • Reconnect during car drives: I have always observed that we have so many unexpected important conversations as we travel in the cocoon of our car. Even men who are usually quiet start talking. Use the car rides as a way to bond with the kids. Even if your kids are just chatting with each other, just listen to those little voices and enjoy them. You can sing silly songs, play oral word games, or just listen to them. The time in the car also offers a great chance to talk about various topics apart from studies—music, hobbies, friends, etc. Your children may not feel too comfortable sharing all of their thoughts during face-to-face conversation. When you are driving, you may find that your kids will never stop talking.
  • Limit kids activities: Learn to say no to over scheduling your child’s day. Limit to one after-school activity a day. Period. I know this restriction is much difficult for the parents than kids. You want your son to continue with the piano class, he really wants to continue with the cricket coaching, he is doing very well in tennis. How do you choose? All these activities build skills and give the children a sense of what they can do. But time spent with family gives them a sense of who they are.
  • Limit your activities:  As a parent, you too have your limits. Imagine this scenario. Working parents, the child comes back from school to an empty house. The parents come back home in the evening, but it is activity time for the kids and the mother (gym time). Mother is comes back home with the child. Dad is busy in some work related meeting. The mother wants to freshen up and get some rest while the child does his/her homework. Mother is happy, has her dinner at 8.00pm. The child has dinner at 9.00 pm. Dad does not eat before 10.30 pm.Simply put, you cannot be there for the child when you are busy with your activities.  The rituals that build a sense of closeness, bedtime stories, cuddles in front of the fire or a favorite TV show can’t happen when parents use the house as a stop-over place from work. Taking time for yourself and looking after your health is also important, but take care and effort to keep yourself free when your child is free and do activities when he/she is busy.
  • Do activities together: Instead of doing activities separately, do them together. Order for take home dinner, relax, enjoy good (read fun) food and do some activities or play games together. In this era where it is difficult to say a friend form a foe, it is good to have some sense of security and happiness at home. Remember, home and family is our fortress, our best protection from the outside tension.

Try to do a hobby with your child that you both can enjoy together. There is nothing better than spending time with your child doing something that you both love. It does not matter which hobby you sharepainting, reading, playing some games, etc. The real goal is to just have time to bond together.

  •  Schedule time for your children’s activities: You might not be interested in attending the school concert and watch a school play or dance sequences. You might in doing something else more important to you or more appealing to you. But remember, for your child, your presence in their school events, irrespective of whether they are participating in it or not, is more important than anything else.Actually, your presence demonstrates to them that they are important to you more than other things. Give it a thought, is your meeting really more important than the excitement and good will your child feels when they see you in the crowd? If you hurt your child by not attending such events just because you are not interested and don’t even feel upset about it, you are either a sadist or mentally sick. You should not wait for your child to ask you if you will be attending. Infact, you should confirm your attendance when you child tells you about the event. This builds a feeling of dependable trust in your child. Mark their events on your calendar and treat their events just as you would treat your important meetings.
  •  Involve your children for errands:  Make it a habit to take your children along when you run errands, or get grocery.While your kids might not always want to run errands, you can spend some great time shopping together. Involving them is such activities will build their self esteem, confidence and independence.
  • Access flexibility at work: If you have flexible working hours (as it is in most of the IT companies), try to start your work day earlier so you can get home around the time your child is back from school. Flexible schedules are a great way to make some quality time to be with your kids. In addition, if you have the work from home option, do that when required. Remember these options are given at work so that you can balance your work and professional life.

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