Posted by: coachingparents | November 2, 2008

Creating Quality Time with Your Kids


by Dr. Riordan

I have found that my kids need time with me. No big surprise, right? But sitting watching a movie together doesn’t count, nor does having them hang out for hours on a Friday evening at my office while I try to finish up my work for the week. I have found that what my kids really want is one-on-one time with me doing something that they want to do. This is especially true as we leap back into a new school year, full of homework, soccer practice, swim class, etc…

I am sure most parents have read about the value of having a date night with your child, with your spouse, with your BFF, etc. While there is tremendous value in having a designated night out with the important people in your life once a month, or a weekend away once a year, there is one more step that I think works better than anything else to create strong bonds between parents and children. I first heard about the idea from Pam Leo, author of Connection Parenting. To find out more about Pam’s program, visit her online at www.connectionparenting.com.

When I was going through my parent coaching certification a couple of years ago, Pam taught one of the classes. This was one of the most powerful and insightful classes about parenting that I experienced. It touched my heart deeply and changed me as a parent forever. I guess you could say it was like a big, loud wake-up call. One of the simple things we can do to connect with our children, she said, was to spend one-on-one time with each child. She called the time spent together “Mommy time” or “Conner time” and everyone in the our family knows that it is a sacred moment not to be shared except by the two people participating. Sometimes our “Maggie time” is simple, reading a book or playing Barbie. Sometimes, my schedule is crazy and I have to be more creative, like using grocery shopping or running errands as time to spend alone with just one child.

We try to schedule a 15 minute block of time one or two times a week where one child will have my undivided attention to do whatever they want. This might be playing Polly Pockets with Maggie, cards with Conner, reading a book, it doesn’t matter. The important point is that they get to pick. What I have found from doing this is that they feel more loved but they also know to ask for “Mommy time” when they are not seeing enough of me. It is amazing what I can learn about what is happening in their lives in 15 minutes of undivided attention. We have all kinds of wonderful, fascinating conversations and I learn about what is happening at school, in the classroom and on the playground. (I have found that “Mommy” time is just as important to my husband and that our relationship is better when we each spend that few minutes each week talking to each other without distractions.)

“I need some Mommy time, NOW!” said my son one day. He has gotten very good at asking for my time when he needs it. I try to make sure he gets that need met. I came home from a weekend away, hurried back for my daughter’s 6th birthday party and was totally focused on her and the party for the rest of the day. The next morning my son mournfully said “My weekend sucked!” I did not fuss at him for using a word I don’t like, I just listened. He told me why (all of the attention was on his sister for the weekend, a good reason) and I gave him a hug, told him I was sorry it sucked and scheduled a date for later that week. Off he went to school with a smile on his face!

One night, shopping for new shoes and winter clothes for Conner became “Conner time” and by calling it “Conner time,” it made it more special. We shopped, we ate chocolate, we talked, we giggled, he told me how cool he looked in his new clothes…nothing special or planned but we both came hope happy and relaxed.

Maggie knows her turn is coming. She and I love to grocery shop together, do crafts or read books. She loves me to be her audience while she sings along to Power Puff Girls on her karaoke machine. It’s not about WHAT you do, it’s about HOW you set the intention. It’s about focusing on one child, even for 10 minutes, to let them know they are special and that you love them. I asked Maggie what she and Daddy did during their time together while Conner and I were out. She said, “We acted silly.” How cool is that?

Schedule some one-on-one time with each of your kids today and feel the excitement! Even a short drive in the car with just one child can be turned into a special time for talking, remembering, telling jokes and just being together!

As a busy working mom, active community volunteer and parent of two elementary school aged children, my daily life is a juggling act. I own a magazine and the print deadlines can be very stressful. I have found that it is imperative to my own survival and to my children’s well-being, that we live an organized life with scheduled time together. Yes, we enjoy moments of spontaneity and moments of stress and total craziness where we all neglected and overwhelmed by to-do lists and soccer games and housework and then there’s our jobs. But we all know that our time is coming and we usually manage to hold it all together until then and relax into the planned time together when it comes.

Minette Riordan, Ph.D. is the publisher of North Texas Kids, a certified parent coach and mother of two children. She is passionate about helping families improve the ways they communicate with each other and helping parents to build solid relationships with their children that will last a lifetime. To find out more about Minette, visit her website at www.MinetteRiordan.com or www.NorthTexasKids.com.

Minette Riordan, Ph.D.
Publisher
North Texas Kids

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