“Mamma, you don’t spend time with me! You are always busy!”- my son said one day. I was really surprised because I am a stay at home mom, having opted to remain so, for my son’s sake. But his comment did set me thinking. Till then, I really didn’t understand what quality time meant. It is the time meant exclusively for the children!
Quality time can be an issue for both working as well as stay-at-home parents.
When both parents are working, it gets difficult to find time to enjoy anything. When you get back from work you are tired. After a little or no refreshment you have to set off to complete those household chores which are absolutely essential like cooking dinner, helping the children with their studies and preparing for the next morning! There’s hardly any time or energy left for spending relaxed moments with the children, before sleep time.
I once went to meet a friend of mine who had quit her regular job to be with her daughter. She opted for an online part time job. She was busy on her computer with her job. Her daughter returned after playing with her friends and happily rushed to sit on her mother’s lap. She was very excited to tell something. Instead of the lap what did she get? A slap…..for disturbing my friend’s work! I said to myself- “What is the use of staying at home , if the child cannot have parent’s attention.” There are parents who value their TV time more than spending time with children.
It is also a fact that housework is never ending! Home makers are as tired by the end of the day as working parents. If homemakers opt for part time work-from-home job, even 24 hours in a day seem to fall short. Looking after all the household work, shopping, paying bills, social commitments, children’s homework and other activities take up all the time. Sometimes stay-at-home means you are at the house but not involved with the kids!
What is Quality Time?
Quality time means meaningful time spent with the child and not just around the child. It is the time when you do something enjoyable together. We cook, work, toil the whole day, do everything for the kids. But children value parent’s direct involvement more, when they are young. An expensive gift may bring a delighted smile on your child’s face but they will soon forget it! But, the laughter and fights you share with the child while playing snakes and ladder, chess, or painting a wall together, those are memories to cherish forever.
Quality time means spending time in doing things which bring you closer to the child emotionally by being physically together. There are several opportunities when you can share, laugh and cry with the child. The most common opportunities that we can grab are:
1. When commuting to and from school- Encourage the kids to share their day’s experiences and share your’s too. Ask for the funny things and also the disappointing one’s. Relate and share your own school day anecdotes. Do not just ask about the school work.
2. Preparing and having meals together- Talk on various topics and experiences while you prepare for dinner and have meals together.
3. Take out time to watch your child’s favourite TV programme with him. Do make efforts to enjoy the programme and show interest by talking about it in between. (Please do not doze off!)
4. Story sessions- Read out or narrate stories to the children. Select stories that you feel they will enjoy and gain valuable lessons.
5. Involve the kids in whatever you do- On a Sunday,you may have planned for some washing, gardening, painting, shopping, repairing etc., Sunday is also the day the child has been waiting for to spend time with you. Involve the kids in the work you do at home. They will love to paint the gate and help around the house. They may create some mess, but they learn many things besides sharing giggles and laughs with you as you work together.
6. Week end sports and outings- Make it a point to play games and sports with the children whenever you have time. Go out into the open for picnics and adventure or for a movie that your child wants to see.
If you feel you are short of time, encourage your children to help you in house work so that you can save time to play with them. Getup a little earlier in the morning and finish work on time. Plan your work when the child is busy with his/her studies, playing with friends, watching TV programs, is at school or sleeping.
As with any kind of love, quality is always more important than quantity. The fun that the child has with you is much more important than the hours spent together. The child will remain in a happy mood till you return from work, if you happen to share a good joke or a funny playful fight during breakfast, before saying bye and leaving for office and school. Such interaction gradually develops healthy bonding of children with parents. Children open up more to the parents because they know your playful, relaxed side too. When they realize that you sincerely make efforts and make out time to be with them, they begin to realize the importance of your work too. It is not difficult to have quality time with children if you consider children as the best source of relaxation!