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Are you spending enough time with your kids? How much of it is quality time? Read on to find out more.
Though I am a full time stay at home mom, I often had vague ideas about what is called quality time spent with my child. I personally feel that I am not very great with kids. Like I struggle with doing the baby talk, engaging kids, especially when it is not my own child.
Do not get me wrong here, it neither means I hate other kids. I do like kids and in fact I get to feel the most amazing moments when I am around them. However the ease with which I can relate to or am able to interpret my own child is much more than with other kids. It has more to do with my inability to read a child’s mind, to be a kid among kids and to get along well.
Some others I know have an inherent flair for being good with kids. My husband, for example. He is clearly the hot favourite amongst kids. He can create the most amazing interactive games on the go, ask them funny questions and can make them run around with joy – basically those activities which kids would love. Now that is what I call time well spent.
Time spent with kids need not be high on quantity all the time, but quality time of few hours would be good as well, once they grow out of infancy.
On the other hand, we need not always be providing solutions or be involved with their every single movement. Sometimes I would read my own book while my child keeps himself busy with his own activity. It is crucial to develop this habit of free play to assert their individuality and let them figure out how to tackle their own boredom. But when it was my turn to spend quality time with my child, I clearly lacked the knack for it.
Many do struggle with engaging kids and resort to more convenient options like a TV babysitting them or letting them explore the neighbourhood. In which case, the latter is always a better option, but that still doesn’t give us the answers. In other words, how do you ensure that the child feels that he or she got to spend some quality time with you?
One thing that I am good at is, implementing activities (read household chores!) to put my child’s free time to best use. That is when I get most of the chores done at home, taking his help whenever possible. In fact I am trying not to use the word ‘help‘ here, because I do believe that he is just doing a part of what is required to be done at home. It is his home as much as mine and we are all together in this to make it a hearty place to live in. For now, he is too young to understand all this but I definitely intend to get the idea instilled in him when the time is right.
Well, a child might not be able/willing to do all the tasks but there are enough age appropriate chores for starters. For example, sorting and storing washed utensils back into kitchen shelves, sorting, packing and storing fruits and veggies in the refrigerator, setting up the table for dinner, shelling green peas, plucking grapes, sorting and storing his or her own clothes in their closets, washing & grating vegetables, watering the plants, loading/un-loading clothes to/from washing machine, cleaning the table/kitchen counter, filling water in bottles etc.
Of course, my child might not jump up at an opportunity to do such things. It sometimes might take few months to get them do the chores but it is all worth it. These chores are essential to keep the kids occupied with meaningful tasks. Also a good way to teach them that these regular tasks ought to be accomplished, as they aid the tranquillity of daily living. Otherwise these tasks might be utterly boring and sometimes quite intimidating if our kids begin to do them after they are a bit older.
Now coming back to our topic, do the above activities/chores ring a bell? To me, the answer is not yet an resounding ‘YES‘, but a ‘yes‘ to a certain extent. Why? Because as a parent and homemaker I know the importance of completing these tasks on a day-to-day basis. That need not sound as an exciting activity to a child and we are still working on inculcating it as a daily habit within him/her. So yes, involving kids in such activities is vital to develop the quality of willingness to complete mundane yet basic duties. But, where is the TLC of quality time here? As I said above, the TLC time for kids need not be a TV or a tablet, it could well be something else other than TV or for that matter, chores.
I read somewhere that when you start loving someone you tend to shatter your boundaries and expand your horizons. That is the time when you allow a bit of yourself to rest and concentrate on the other person. You start to value their interests and be sensitive to their opinions . You make sure to encourage them to make their dreams come true. We just don’t give time, rather we tend to make up time in our busy schedules for our loved ones.
That is how it should be with kids too. As loving parents, we need to give them the much needed time and effort for them to feel loved. This definitely does not come from the things that you buy for them, including their demands. Mostly, this does not even come from the things that you do together, if those are always driven only by your priorities.
This does come from doing things together, out of which the child would derive pleasure. It could be reading a book when they ask you to read a book. It could be playing cricket when they ask you to play with them. It could be an hour of painting together when they want to explore colours. Or it could be cooking the child’s favourite snack together. Or it could just be a silly pillow fight when they are in mood for it. Now that is what I call quality time well spent, when the other person’s interests are put over your own. You start giving time for something they need and want, that you both can take part in. When kids feel valued and feel loved, they carry the same aura to spread all around.
On this journey I have reached a point where I put the quality time spent to best use.
A few days back, my child was upset when one of his silly demands was not met. Soon there was a full-blown tantrum and he refused to have his lunch. Switching on the screen would have instantly switched off his crying, but that is when we need discipline over convenience, isn’t it?
Instead of forcing him to sit at the table for lunch, I went to his room and silently started painting (his recent favourite activity). He forgot crying after a while, joined me in painting a few more figures and accepted to have his lunch once he was settled down. During stressful times, just as adults we do yoga, knitting, cooking, dancing, crafts, gardening, reading, writing etc. to calm ourselves down. It works much the same way with kids too!
Though kids are always in the best interests of every parent, we will not be able to do justice if we do not accept them for who they are. We start spending quality time when we realize the importance of treating kids with total acceptance.
While discipline comes from telling kids how to behave in a certain way that we suggest, pure loving comes from accepting and nurturing their unique characteristic. Discipline is like the bigger outer boundary which is necessary to keep children from going off the track. Simultaneously doing things together that children love helps them develop empathy for others and reach new creative peaks. Both these traits should go hand in hand for effective parenting and we should not loose out on originality over blind obedience.
Recently I was attending a talk at one of the schools, when someone asked a teacher about how kids will catch up with technology, say 10 years later, if they are not exposed to it today. Well, the teacher’s answer was like a affirmation to me! She said, “while we might not predict well about how technology will unfold in future, I definitely know that this world needs more good humans and I educate children to be them.”
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