Written by Kristina Broughton
When my kids were young I read a quote that said, “Kids spell love T-I-M-E.” I have never forgotten that statement. Here are a few ideas to help you get started thinking about how you can give your child the gift of time this coming year.
1. Do something with your child
So much of our parenting today involves taking our kids to activities and then sitting on the sidelines as they participate, and we simply watch. We have plenty of quantity time, but not much quality time. Look for that empty space on the calendar and fill it by doing something with your child.
It can be simple. Dig out the watercolors, the legos, a favorite game, all the matchbox cars…whatever it is…schedule it, protect it, and enjoy it. Set everything else aside, turn all the media off, and engage in their world for a few minutes…or hours.
2. Discover their interests…and pursue one together
Not sure what else to give your child for Christmas? Think outside the box and plan to pursue a new activity together this year. The ideas are endless based on your child’s age and personality. If your child is older, connecting through a hobby is a great way to establish frequent communication and build a strong foundation for your relationship during the teen years.
Take an archery, painting, or photography class together. Attend a concert or a theater production. Buy tickets to their favorite local sports team, museum or theme park. Go to a concert. Join a gym. Go hiking. Cook a gourmet meal. Go camping. Volunteer together. Figure out what your child enjoys and commit to joining them in it…even if it stretches you outside your comfort zone.
3. Sometimes let them move at their own pace
In our fast-paced world, kids are often hurried on from one thing to the next from morning until night. I have realized that because I am a driven person, who feels the pressure of time, it is my tendency to pressure my kids to hurry even when they wouldn’t necessarily need to. I’ve also realized that this creates unnecessary friction with my child who has a completely opposite personality.
So I’ve learned to create cushions in her day, so that she can move at her tempo instead of my own. Try giving earlier, gentler, wake up calls so they can enjoy waking up slowly and not feel rushed as they ease into the day…at their own pace. Give them the gift of starting their day with plenty of time. Additionally, especially as your child grows older, give them general guidelines for the completion of tasks. For example if they need to practice piano and feed the pets, allow your child to plan the order and schedule in which they will complete their responsibilities. This might drive you crazy, but it allows your child to learn time management skills, and it also gives them the chance to use their time in a way that best fits their personality.