As a first time mum of a newborn, each day felt like a year.
Life revolved around naps, nappies and nourishment and I counted down the hours until my partner would get home from work to take a turn. I remember getting irritated when my mum told me to stop complaining – but rather to savour every moment as time passes by so fast.
And she was right (aren’t mums always!). In what felt like a blur and a blink of an eye, my baby is now a toddler. Life is even busier than before and I’m juggling a job and a never-ending pile of laundry. But I realise that it’s even more important now to pause, breathe and enjoy some quality time before my daughter is suddenly a teen. Stopping my chores to spend quality time with my child does make me feel anxious that I’m not getting anything ‘productive’ done, but it’s making such a difference in my child’s life (and mine) that I know it’s worth it.
We’ve teamed up with Biostime® to take a look at why quality time is so crucial:
Get to know your child’s strengths and opportunities for development
I love that by giving my child my undivided attention, even if it’s for 30 minutes a day, I am able to get a clearer idea of her strengths as well as areas where she can develop. This way, I can provide opportunities which take advantage of her strong points and helps develop her weaknesses, to help her reach her full potential.
Make your child feel loved and valued
It’s so important to tell your child you love them every day. It’s so simple and yet really easy to forget to do this. Do not take it for granted that your child may know this already. Tell them and then tell them again! I also try and remember to tell my daughter how important she is to me and how happy/excited/proud she makes me feel. There is no expiry date as to when you should stop telling your child you love them. Even when they’re an adult with their own kids, they will still benefit from hearing the affirmation of your love for them.
Feeling loved, valued and important are the building blocks for positive self-esteem and self-worth.
Strengthen your bond
Spending one-on-one time with your kids is one of the best ways to develop your relationship and grow closer together. This individual time helps to build trust and create memories. I immediately notice my child is far more affectionate after I’ve filled up her ‘cup of quality time’. When life gets in the way and her cup drains dry, she pulls away and becomes more distant.
Give them a safe place to share their thoughts and feelings
I find that my daughter’s behaviour is directly connected to how much quality time she gets with myself and my partner. Most people enjoy a good vent, so being a trusted confidante to your child is priceless. She will learn over time that she can trust you completely and you provide a safe environment to share her innermost thoughts and feelings without judgement. I find if she is able to get her frustrations off her chest during our quality time chats, she hardly ever melts down.
Instil good values and allow them to learn by example
I am a big believer in leading by example. If you’d like your child to display a certain behaviour, the best way to teach them how to do this is by demonstrating this behaviour yourself.
By spending more time with your child, she will have the chance to mirror your good behaviour and pick up positive habits and values. This becomes even more important in the later years when friends could provide bad influences. So setting a strong example and foundation early on could help offset these negative pressures.
Ideas for spending quality time with your little one
Get your child involved in cooking
My daughter loves to be the kitchen helper. She enjoys having the responsibility for setting the table and often gets involved in preparing meals. It’s much easier and quicker to get the tasks done without her ‘help’, but I use this as a chance for some quality time. I teach her about different fruit, vegetables and other ingredients and she gets to taste, chop and mix. I’m a passionate foodie so it really does give me pleasure that she enjoys busying around the kitchen as much as I do. It’s a real bonding process for us.
Switch off the TV and just talk to your child
It’s so easy to just turn on Netflix or YouTube Kids or hand them an iPad so you can get along with chores. But it’s important to make a conscious effort to go technology-free, even if it’s just for half an hour. Sit and chat with your child and find out what their best and worst bits of the day was. Then share something that happened in your day. You’ll be surprised where the conversation may lead.
Go for a walk and let them point out all the interesting things along the way
These days, for me, exercise has to have a purpose and I’m too busy to just go for a walk to smell the roses. But I know my child loves to go on a nature adventure – which could be simply walking to the end of the road. She stops and examines every flower and speaks to every bug she sees along the way. If we’re in a hurry, this usually drives me insane but if it’s quality time I’m after, then I try and relax and just embrace her curiosity.
Play whatever they want to play
I find playing kiddie games a bit boring but I know how much my daughter loves it when I play at her level. Her favourite is when I play Barbies with her or even just a game of snakes and ladders. The effort definitely doesn’t go unnoticed.
Read to them
For me, this is one of the most enjoyable ways to enjoy quality time. I love reading with my daughter and we’ve spent many a night giggling at funny books and getting absorbed in fairy tales. We often go to the library together to pick out books and then cuddle up on the comfy couches and I’ll read to her for ages. I love that this activity combines education with quality time. Bonus!
Have a sing a long or dance with them
My daughter adores music and dancing so one of our favourite things to do is to turn the music up high and just dance. We take turns being DJ and we just let loose and boogie. It’s such fun and good exercise too.
Laugh and be silly
Life can be really serious at times and being a parent is often not an easy job. So I try and let loose with my daughter every now and again and just giggle. We’ll tell silly jokes, make ridiculous faces, have tickle fights or just laugh for the fun of it. We both feel wonderful afterwards.
Let’s not forget the crucial pre-requisite to quality time
We’ve now gone through how important it is to spend quality time with our kids. But just as crucial is to spend some quality time with yourself.
You need to invest some time and effort into looking after yourself so that you have the free energy to embrace quality time with your child.
For many of you, these tips will already be a part of your everyday routine, and the point is that any time with your child can be a moment that matters.
It’s all about being mindful and really savouring each moment you spend together and making it special for the both of you.
Looking for more ways to spend quality time with your little ones? Head to www.biostime.com.au/parent-lounge for additional inspiration and advice. As a global
leader in paediatric nutrition, Biostime® is bringing together parents to share, connect, celebrate and learn more about the triumphs and tensions of parenting the Next Generation.
What is your favourite way to spend quality time with your kids? Tell us in the comments below.