Find out how much is enough time and why sometimes quantity is as important as quality.
Do Parents Spend Enough Time With Their Kids And Why Does It Matter?
A recent study have shown that parents today spend more time with their kids compared to how much their parents spent with them. The question is why are we still feeling we are not doing enough? It's probably the over-access to knowledge and the new expectation from society and the media about being the ‘perfect’ parent. How much is enough time and isn’t quality more important than quantity?
I remember a friend of mine who used to work long hours in a corporate job. She later on left her job, moved overseas with her husband and child and became a stay-at-home-mom. She no longer had the support of a domestic helper and her parents. It was simply her and her child during most of the day. For a person who had been working all her adult life, moving into this new role in a new country was terribly daunting. The fear and anxiety of how to fruitfully spend time with her child surfaced in a big way.
During this period, my friend realised that quality interaction can only emerge after a good quantity of time is spent understanding and interacting with her child. A simple blurb of a few random words can represent an entire episode that happened in the day and only you will understand because you were present! That feeling of knowing your child is so beautiful and powerful for a parent and for the child.
And then we come to the practicalities of finding the right balance between getting chores done and spending quantity and quality time with your child.
How To Spend Time with Kids And Get Things Done
First, the most important thing is to set routines. Once a routine is in place, the child knows what to expect and will resist less. If there is any changes, it is important to prepare the child by running through the day’s schedule with the child and remind them again as it gets nearer to the time where there is a change in routine. Having a schedule board with pictures help the child visualise too.
Here are some activities you can involve your kids in while getting things done:
You can refer to our previous article on how to cook with your child. We think cooking is great as you can adapt it to the child’s ability. Starting simply with a treasure hunt for the ingredients and teaching them language with the use of flash cards.
Teaching your kids how to fold clothes by creating a cardboard clothes folder for them can be fun and easy. Get them to help choose and organise the outfits for the week can also give them more autonomy and prevent potential tantrums. My two year old has to decide what she wears every morning, and we therefore have to pre-agree what to wear or else it would turn chaotic getting to school in the morning.
My girls love to go grocery shopping. Like most children, they do throw tantrums occasionally and in the heat of the situation I will sometimes miss buying some items I need. Therefore, shopping lists are important. Giving them each a visual list to help pick out stuff might be a good idea so they are involved and not idle. Most importantly, make sure they had their potty runs and are well fed before we leave the house. Hungry kids or emergency toilet trips aren’t fun with a trolley full of stuff. Bring snacks to keep them entertained if all else fails and always have wet wipes on you.
Crafts and Mini Projects
Crafts are good for creativity. I like to have a trolley of random recycled materials for the kids to make stuff as and when they want. When they get creative, they are focused and busy. I then can work on my stuff. Even better, set a fix schedule for craft time so you know when you can schedule work or chores in.
Building toys like lego and magna tiles are also good to have easily accessible in the shelves. We put them in a mini Ikea set of drawers, organised according to colours.
DIY dollhouses and farms are also lovely opportunities to create and role play. We sometimes add sensory materials like beans and grains. We leave out things such as clothes, sponges and cardboards for the kids to get creative. We typically help set up or cut up stuff and let them piece things together in any way they fancy.
These are just starting tips for you parents. If you have more interesting ideas or have an opinion on this topic, do share in the comments. As they say, two brains are better than one!