In our busy schedule, it is easy to forget the critical need of our child to be loved and spent time with. Salvaging our guilt by “spending on objects” children yearn for is sometimes seen as a conscious or an unconscious solution.Children may enjoy what you buy for them as soon as you buy for them but the pleasure of their parents company is irreplacable. The wonderful memories you create with them, will not only help them grow into well adjusted and responsible adults, but help them thrive and bloom as they bask in your love and attention.
For most parents, the fundamental reason to justify their “busy” state is:
“I provide the comforts they enjoy and the only way to provide is by working these long hours.”
A close friend of mine grew up in a household with a loving Mom and a very busy but loving Dad. During the initial days of her Dad’s business, his schedule was erratic to say the least. Her Dad would often leave home before she used to go to school and there were many days that he would not be back when she went to bed at night.
She would often tell me that she considers the quality of time she has spent with her busy Dad more significant than the duration of time she spent with him during her childhood. Now many can ask a valid question – How could she state that her busy Dad had spent quality time with her when he was barely at home?
Her answer was simple, she never felt his absence. Whenever he would be home, he would be chirpy and eager to spend time with her and family. He would take her Mom for shopping, sit and ask my friend about her school and friends, help her with her homework if required, make the time to attend her PTA Meetings when he could or just sit and joke with her and her Mom when they had their meals.
Her childhood days may not have memories that were full of receiving gifts on birthdays and other special occasions, but they were rich memories with the joys of laughter, love and contentment.
As parents, how can we aim to ensure our child has a “rich” treasure trove of wonderful and positive memories of spending time with us?
Make the most of their time with us. Ensure that all opportunities of spending time with them is utilized. The daily trips to school and back can be opportunities for you to spend quality time with your child. Their trips to their after school activities are also great opportunities for some quality time with them.
Be creative and plan a movie evening at home with them and order food from their favourite place. I did this once with my kids and ten years later, they still talk about it with pleasure. Spending time with your children once in a while in this way, without conditions and regulations is enjoyed with great excitement by children, because it is away from regular routines and it gives them fun time with you.
Sit with them and take a trip down memory lane by looking through family albums that you know they may enjoy, eg: their baby snaps. Of course, you can add to the fun by sharing a scoop of their favourite ice cream!
Limit viewing the television at home. Anyway, thanks to the internet, you are never short of entertainment and news and viewing television for long hours would only erode the time you can other wise spend with family or put to effective use. Play indoor or outdoor games with children, participate in craft work with them (if they like it, of course), take them to the playground or make fun opportunities to nurture their talents – for eg: if your child enjoys singing, have a karoake session with family. Even if the family may not be keen to join in, they would make a great encouraging audience. If your child is into bowling, if possible, go for a weekly or monthly bowling session with just the two of you or with the family.
Discuss with them your day (after you ask theirs) and you’d be surprised just how wise and interesting your children are.
Be spontaneous! Go for a drive and a picnic. If preparing food for the picnic will take time, don’t bother about the cooking. Some snacks like sandwiches, muffins and biscuits would do too. If it is food you require, call up a cafe or restaurant and have food delivered to the park after your drive and just take the mat, paper plates and other articles for the picnic from home. Sit down under a shady tree with your children, enjoy your food and the fresh air.
Share with them anecdotes on how funny you may been as a child. Kids love to hear how funny or silly their parents may have been when they were children.
Joke about the times when they were at their funny best and narrate the anecdotes, preferably with your spouse – guaranteed to provide lovely family memories.
For movie viewing, a trip to the theatre would be a great idea to spend time and enjoy the experience. Go for a movie that you’re sure they are likely to enjoy. I will never forget the children’s movie, “Racing Stripes” and I doubt my children will. It was a surprise that I had planned for them when they were around 3 and 6 and until they saw the posters in the theatre they had no clue where I was taking them. The look of pleasure and surprise on their faces was priceless!
Help them organise their study or room. This is one activity that allows you to spend not just time with your child but help the child become more independent and responsible.
Having at least one meal in a day together as a family not only helps you to be in touch with children and vice versa, but it is also a way of creating a scheduled time in the day that is “pure family time”.
So before you make your next purchase for your child, pause and think of its value for the child. Your child may merely experience the fleeting joy of getting something without truly needing it. Instead, plan ways of spending some quality time with your child – get to know your offspring.
We all would like to provide the best for our child, but in the process we need to remember that as parents, our role in their memory of their childhood days are too powerful to ignore.
Charles R Swindoll once said,
“Everyday of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children”
Enjoy the pleasure of their company when you can for there will be a time when they are busy with college and leading their own lives.
There would be a time in their life, that would test what memories you gave them, for them to make their children’s journey of life too, enriching and joyful.