For the Working Parent - Spending Quality Time with your Children
By Joanna Fortune
It is hard to be a parent. It is really hard to be a parent who also works outside of the home. It is even harder to try to strike a balance of how to maximize quality time with your child when you don’t have quantity time! Parents are usually exhausted after a day at work and come evening time just want to fall down on the couch and relax...But this isn’t a reality for parents, unfortunately.
As a parent your time will either be spent on basic needs:
or on the over-and-above kind of needs:
• Having a chat
• Playing a game before bedtime
• Bedtime Story
• Riding bikes together on a Sunday afternoon
Every child needs both sets of needs to be met and responded to. While they will survive on the basic needs being met they will thrive on the over and above kind of needs being met. It’s about you being tuned in and putting everything else aside to spend time with your child, not just about you fulfilling a basic need. Sometimes you will need to prioritise to make this work...leave the dishes in the sink and attend to the bedtime story.
Other ways to spend quality time with your children
Double up with your chores
If you have to wash your car, put one child in it with you and use the time sitting in the car to play a game of thumb wrestling or pee-a-boo or make a handstack together. If you have to go to the supermarket, bring one child with you and make them their own shopping list so that they are engaged in the activity rather than just following you around.
Have a day out
Have a day out (or a morning/afternoon/evening) with your child that is just you and they and spend the time doing things that they like to do while connecting and talking together. This should be one to one time and it can be with Mum/Dad (ideally alternate so that your child gets this special time with each of you). This shows your child that you know the things that they like and are prepared to share in these with them.
Plan your week ahead
Tuesday/ Thursday is story night; Friday is make-your-own-desert night, football or outdoor play on Sunday afternoon. In this way time won’t fly away with all your good intentions.
Make a point of having dinner or breakfast together
Make a point of having dinner or breakfast together and don’t be in a rush. Talk about your day and ask about theirs, what is everyone’s best bit of the day and the day they wish they could do differently.
Joanna Fortune is a Clinical Psychotherapist specialising in child and adolescent Psychotherapy, with over 12 years experience working with children and families. She regularly writes in national media on parenting and family issues.