I like to assume that all parents want to be connected to their children throughout their child’s development journey. I wonder, though, if we do all we can to make sure that happens. One of the ways I work to connect with my boys is through moments of quality time. Quality time is such an important part of raising emotionally intelligent children who not only feel loved but also feel seen, valued and understood. Here are a few ways I’m intentional with making time for my two little ones.
Having Kid Conversations
I love having conversations with my boys. It’s one of the ways I enjoy quality time with them. Entertaining their thoughts shows me how their little minds think. Being patient and empathetic with them, I learn every day that my boys have some logical and very interesting points of view.
It’s never been in my parental nature to shush my kids or dismiss their thoughts and questions as nonsense. Though, I do admit the “why” phase can be challenging sometimes. When I have Zoom consultations, finding answers to why the sky is blue or why mommies have babies and not daddies can be wearisome. But, I chalk that up to inconvenience and make time to answer those questions sincerely.
Just the other day my oldest son noticed that women and men play in different basketball leagues. He accurately differentiated the NBA from the WNBA, but he curiously noted that women only seem to be the cheerleaders. His thoughts and questions led to an insightful conversation about gender and gender norms I don’t think would come up in regular “snack time” conversations. This is the win-win in making quality time to converse with my children. When I plan time to literally and figuratively get on their level—maybe while they’re playing with Legos or drawing—and talk to them about what’s on their minds, I get a peek into how they view the world, what they feel is fair and unjust, what they’re happy about, and so much more.
Taking time to sit, chat and listen to your kids not only makes them feel listened to and valued by their parents, but it can help you as a parent see what needs to be nurtured more in them. Kids may not have the language to fully express themselves sometimes, but there might be clues embedded in those conversations that will give you an idea of where they are within themselves.
Staycation with Your Kids
For many parents, getting away is a perfect time to have kid-free moments. I’m very much an advocate of taking vacations without kids sometimes. However, as a single parent, I’ve been deliberate about finding places that are kid-friendly when I want to get some time away with them. So when mommy takes a staycation, I make sure my kids get a chance to relax, also. And, it’s another way to build in quality time as a family.
Think about it: if you need a break from everyday stress, it stands to reason that your kids do, too! They need a change of scenery as much as we adults do. Staycations give them a chance to look forward to something new, different and refreshing. There are some great by-products for parents in these outings, also. I’ve noticed my kids have MUCH better behavior when they know a staycation is on the horizon. Manners are ever-present, and I love that (even though I know the motivation for it). I also get a chance to see my boys enjoy and develop their brotherhood, which is always heartwarming.
Staycations are great ways to spend quality time, and they’re another way for me to let my children know I value their feelings, energy and time. I hope they also see I take their free time as seriously as I do their school time. We’re all more relaxed and happier during our staycations, and we’re able to enjoy each other’s company in a way that differs from home life. If you know you need a break from it all, consider that your kids do, too.
One of the biggest tips I give to parents is not to be afraid to try a little of everything when it comes to their kids’ extracurricular activities. From the time my kids were old enough to enroll in extracurricular activities, I’ve always sought to find a wide breadth of activities for them to try. I did this knowing everything wouldn’t stick with each of my sons. That’s the beauty of self-discovery.
It’s important to teach our kids the value of commitment, dedication and perseverance. It’s equally important to find what they’re passionate about, and where their true interests lie. Unfortunately, many parents get caught up in traditional social norms that don’t put the child first, and that can hinder mental or emotional growth. I didn’t subscribe to the belief that I had to sign my sons up for football and other sports simply because they were males. Little boys might be just as interested in piano lessons!
That’s why my kids have tried Muay Thai, music production, horseback riding, piano lessons, basketball, chess, among other things. It’s been interesting to see which activities each son gravitated towards. We’ve made it a point to try so many different activities, all with the hope of my boys discovering or unlocking their own interests and passions. Who knows? One could be a determining part of what might become a career path. Or it may turn out to be something that doesn’t produce a salary but brings them great joy. Their happiness in life is just as important to me. A kid discovering what they’re good at gives them more confidence, and that’s what every parent wants.
Benefits of Quality Time
Finding quality time with your kids has so many mutual benefits for parents and children. Most importantly, it develops stronger trust and love bonds between everyone, and that will create long-lasting family interactions well beyond adolescence. How do you intentionally make quality time with your little ones? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.