How does your child know you love them? Dr. Anthony P. Witham says “children spell love as T-I-M-E.” Yes. Your child needs your time more than anything else. For most parents who work full time, have a young child, or worse need to travel, time becomes a scarce resource. You wish you had more than 24 hours in the day, right? While we can’t help you add more hours to your day, here are some suggested ways to clear time in your schedule for your child.
Unplug – please.
The only way to clear time in your schedule is to unplug yourself. Start with a self-audit – track your screen time hours and you’ll be shocked to know how it all adds up. Set an example by turning off the TV. Remove all the devices from the bedroom and unplug, especially during meal times. Having a real conversation while you eat together is a fantastic way to strengthen the bond with your child.
Put a Reminder on the phone
This one may seem counter-intuitive, but because you are so attached to your phone, a friendly reminder is always helpful to get back to your parenting. When “Reading Time with Baby” pops, drop everything and sit down for your special time together.
Practice Parenting Mindfulness
You spend so much time being an adult, getting the chores done, paying the bills, etc. that days and weeks pass by so quickly. If you want to make more time for your child, practice mindfulness. When you are with them or when they are around you, stop what you are doing and just be with your children – in body as well as in mind.
Spend Time in spirit
If you must be at work until 6 pm every day then you know what? You can get creative to make sure your child knows you love them. A popular way is to leave cute notes in the lunchbox, mail letters or magnet a note on the fridge for your child. These thoughtful gestures go a long way to show your child you care.
For those who may be sticklers for cleanliness, this may be hard to do. Productivity gurus demand you clear clutter and keep your home clean for hygiene reasons. Yes, but supervising the maid as she tackles that stained kitchen slab can wait if your baby is literally or figuratively calling for your attention. You will always have a neat home once the kids grow up and go away. Until then, go easy on the house chores and on the people you hire to do them for you.
Run Errands during office hours
Do you need to go to the bank? Get groceries for the week? Instead of going on Saturday morning, do it on a weekday. This way, you free up uninterrupted time to spend one-on-one time with your child over the weekends. You can always work an hour extra during the week. That’s easy, no?
Did you know toddlers from ages three and up are very interested in helping you? Your child loves spending time with you so enlist their help in whatever it is you are up to. Whether it’s pruning the plants in your balcony garden, cooking or even tiny repairs around the house, get your child and do it together. These are great teaching opportunities. Besides, experts say when your child cooks with you, it gets them interested in eating the meal too.
Special Dinner Night
Speaking of having meals together, having dinner at home is very special. Sure, going out to have a tasty meal over the weekends sounds like a treat, but there is a different thrill in relaxing and being at home. Make it a special night in the week such as “Tandoori Tuesday” or “Sunday Biryani”. Your child is excited, everyone has fun and the routine plays a bigger role in your schedule.
Have fun treats together
Since we are already on the topic, eating fun treats or comfort food together is also great. After dinner, have your favourite litchi ice cream with brownies or get jalebis every Saturday afternoon to munch after lunch. Your child may not remember the conversation they had but as they grow up, they will associate these treats with the good times they spent with you.
Play Their Games
You can let the experts help you plan a theme based calendar where play is organised for your child all week. Games can be very good for your child that teach problem-solving, creativity, and bring out the competitive streak in your child. So, whether it is dancing with Wii, football, car racing or Pokemon Go! Get in there with them, albeit occasionally. It would be great for your child to see you be a child too!
Timer time on breaks
Everyone is so busy these days. So, to ensure you spend time together, get a timer. As soon as the reminder pops on your phone, set the time to 15 minutes or to half an hour. Let your child know this is the time you can spare right now. Give them warnings when there are 5 minutes left or 2 minutes left to go. Can’t spare 30 minutes? Get your child into bed 15 minutes earlier than usual and spend that time connecting.
Time becomes quality time when your child feels heard, connected, and loved by you in the moments you share with them. You don’t need an international vacation or fancy restaurants, make room for your child in the simple everyday things in your schedule and make it count!