Working parents: Quality time with your children1 Mar 2012
Here are some Ideas to make the most of your time with your child.
Family time for toddlers to teenagers
Set a time aside on a regular basis. It could be once a week, fortnight or month but mark out that time to spend time together as a family. Choose something that everyone enjoys and that fits your budget. It could be as simple as watching a DVD together with snacks to enjoy, having a fun family challenge on the Wii, getting a takeaway, or going to the cinema or bowling. It doesn't matter what you do - the important thing is that each person knows that the time is 'protected'. It might be hard to turn down invites, and the temptation to work may be strong, but once you get into the routine, you will hopefully find that the time is valued by all and is important for family relationships. This is just as important in small families as it is in large families.
Babies and younger children
Many families follow a routine each evening. Working parents can join that routine once they arrive home, whether that be a set time each day or variable. This will enable them to be part of teatime, bathtime or storytime on a regular basis.
If you have a young baby or child who has swimming lessons or attends music and movement classes at the weekends, why not all go along together, or if that is not possible, the working parent could use this as an opportunity to have some quality time with their child.
Even if your child is very young, make a habit of being together as a family on a regular basis - however large or small your family is. It may simply mean sitting together on the settee for your baby's final feed.
Younger school-aged children
As a working parent, set aside the necessary time as soon as you get in from work - perhaps to hear your child read or talk about what they have done at school that day. This allows you to have this time before distractions come along. Giving your child undivided attention will mean a lot: your child will feel important and it will be a positive activity for you both. If both parents work, you could alternate this time.
Secondary school children
Admittedly, spending time with children at this age can be much more limited and schedules much busier. Parents can sometimes feel that they are simply providing a taxi service - but try to make the most of the time you have with your child. Turn off the radio, take out the headphones and use this time to talk. Chat together about how the day has gone; keep in touch with what is going on in your child's life; chat about any issues. If that simply results in a grunt of disinterest, why not ask them who they've got playing on their iPod or mobile, who they think are the best bands of the moment, if they have heard about any good films on at the cinema – anything that connects with their world and helps them to realise you respect their opinions.
Occasionally, you could even add a special 'treat' element - perhaps a stop for a drink and cake on the way home, or a favourite takeaway. My experience is that a stop at the Smoothie and cake shop on a Friday afternoon or after a sports match is much enjoyed by child and adult alike!
This material is copyright BRF