What is quality time, especially in an age where technology and gadgets dominate our activities? With the ever-growing demands that life throws our way every day, it is understandable that we lose focus on some things while placing much attention on others. We see it happen every day. We see people losing contact with childhood friends while growing up. It is a normal part of life, albeit the sting that accompanies the disconnection. However, if there is something that we should strive not to lose connection with is with our families. Most especially with our children. So, as early as now, how do we connect with our families deeply?
Simple. The answer is simple yet so difficult.
Spend some quality time together.
What is Quality Time
Let me give you a picture to think about. Imagine sitting beside your child for two straight hours. No talking, no eye contact established at all. All you contribute to the situation is your presence. Tell me, does this image paint a pleasant view of a parent-child quality bonding.
Absolutely not, right?
Now, let’s get to know what quality time really is.
Quality time is even defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “time spent giving all of one’s attention to someone who is close”. Spending quality time requires more than your presence. Just like its book definition, spending quality time requires undivided attention. Words are not even necessary. Even if your child does not know how to speak yet, you can spend precious quality time together and attend to their needs by focusing your whole attention on their gestures and mood shifts.
Let’s circle back to the situation at hand. Although the parent and the child share space, neither of them provides attention to the other. Yes, words are not necessary but attention is required. Hence, they were just sparing each other some of their spare time. It may not even be intentional at all.
What’s So Special About Quality Time Anyway?
You might catch yourself asking why it is so important to spend some quality family time together and what’s so special about it. Just like starting all other kinds of relationships, both parties must spend time to get to know each other and to open communication.
Creating open channels of communication is one of the benefits that come from spending quality time with your children. You let them get to know you as an individual and you get to know your children more outside your perception of them as their parents. In the process of getting to know each other deeply. Ask the right questions and you will easily figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and other preferences that may only seem obvious under close inspection. If you merely spend time together when hanging out, you might miss out on how your child will avoid a certain type of food than when you pour your attention. then you may notice that they prefer vanilla over chocolate. It’s in the simple things and it may matter the most to them.
Aside from healthy communication channels, having quality bonding time with your children builds their self-esteem and confidence. Not only that, but it also has a positive effect on your and your child’s mental well-being. Exploring various fun activities together lets you discover activities and tasks that your children will excel in. Thus, boosting their confidence while enjoying themselves. Growing up in a constantly nurturing environment, of course, the mental wellbeing of the child that will help them in adulthood.
Lastly, a deeper connection caused by constant quality bonding leads to learning how to deal with both good and bad moments as a family. Life isn’t linear, isn’t it? There are times when it feels like nothing wrong can come your way. On the flip side, there are also moments when luck and happiness are evasive. At all times, you’d want your family to be with you and not just the adults, also the kids.
These are just some of the countless reasons why quality time with your family is special—why it is vital.
So, How Does One Spend Quality Time?
Now that we’ve covered the definition and importance of quality time in families. Can you say that you spend enough quality time with your spouse and each of your children? Do you even have time to spare for yourself? If you are yet to figure it out, here are some activities and moments that encourage spending quality time together. If you practice most of these tasks, then rest assured, you spend more than enough quality time with your family.
Have one on one activities with each of your family members
While it is important to spend time together as one unit, it is essential to build personal relationships with each one. It might be difficult once your child grows older as it gets more challenging to get them out of their shells but it is definitely fun. You can always start off small. You can start bonding over one of your child’s favorite Disney film. Spare some time to watch it together and discuss the movie afterward. Talk about their favorite character and yours. For the next bonding activity, you can then focus on what you are interested in. May it be learning an instrument together or listening to your favorite artists.
It’s always enjoyable to bond over things that both parties equally enjoy. Do you do this for your kids? If not yet, you may want to start planning now. Don’t forget to always consider their interests first. Don’t march headlong into their routines and demand time. Make the transition easy for them as well.
Set family date nights
A family is a single unit. A household. So, it is also necessary to spend some quality time with all of your family members. Bonding and doing activities together builds and rebuilds the entire family dynamic. You may wonder why it also rebuilds established relationship dynamics, which is especially needed for a growing family. Some activities that you can do as a family are game nights where you bond over board games or video games. Set up consequences for the losing team and make sure no one is an exemption. If you’re not into games, you may want to bond over movies. As an added bonding activity before watching a movie, you can decorate and set the mood of the living room, such as putting up fairy lights and transferring some thick blankets to the living room. And if your family prefers the outdoors you can always go camping or play sports together.
An important thing about setting date nights is its consistency. May it be monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly, make sure that these date nights are something that everyone looks forward to. In a world where technology takes over our everyday lives, quality moments like these are essential to keep us grounded and connected with our loved ones.
Know your child’s interests
In the hopes of spending some quality time with your children, why don’t you try out and learn your children’s interests? From their favorite bands, music genre, books, subjects, and anything under the sun, I am sure that you might have similar preferences that you can bond over. If not, you might actually be influenced by your children to try something new.
Aside from that, knowing your child’s interests also helps you in creating activities and bonding moments that are in line with their likes. There are many parents who like to assume the interests of their children because of their past experiences. Although this gesture is well-meaning, always remember that your child is still growing and preferences change all the time. What they like today might not what they prefer to bond over tomorrow. It’s also a nice experience to learn something new from your children, especially when it comes to pop culture and new trends.
This tip might be difficult for some parents and extremely easy for others. Be silly when you bond with your children or every time if you want to! But it not, only when necessary. Sometimes, you need to break the distance between being a parent to your child to connect with them deeper. It might also help them in opening up more to you. Being silly especially helps when you bond with your little kids. Wear costumes with your kids, act like a monster that they would defeat, change your voices when reading them a bedtime story. There are countless ways on how you can be silly and humorous for your kids. It might even surprise you that you have this fun and easygoing side. These kinds of bonding can also be your easy escape from the demands from work and life in general. Let loose and reconnect with your family. Be a kid around your children.
Have meals as a family
While other families prefer to go on vacations and trips to have a worthwhile bonding, there are others that do not share the same luxury. And that is fine, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, an article published by Stanford Children’s Health claims that all types of family time are quality time regardless of what you choose to do. So, one of the simplest tasks that you can bond over are meals. Whenever possible, aim to have meals as a family. It’s also easy to bond over meals. Conversations also flow smoothly during mealtime. It’s easy to talk about your experience during the day and to recall the funny and memorable moments that you encountered.
Making meal times as designated bonding moments also conditions every one in your family to look forward to taking meals together. They start taking note of moments that they can share during the meals later on. Also, it makes every one involved. No one is taking the stage alone, each one is involved in the conversation. Lastly, food tastes better when shared with your loveed ones.
Turn away from electronic devices
Circling back to the claim from the Stanford Children’s Health that any family time is quality time, don’t forget to partner it with the book definition of quality time. When you spend time with your spouse or kids, give them your full attention. So, what is the best course of action that you can take? Simple. Turn away from social media and electronic devices. You might question why you need to stay off social media when you want to document the bonding. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that but do it after. Your kid needs to see your face not the camera of your phone.
Moreover, distance yourself from gadgets except when you need one for your moment. But other than that, keep everything else away.
Do you already do these bonding moments as a family? If yes, then good for you! I’m sure you can testament how important quality bonding time is in keeping a family close and tight-knit. If not, then worry not. It’s never to late to start. Start with something easy such as casual conversations over dinner. Sooner or later, you’ll be organizing your first family game night or camp out. Each bonding moment is a milestone of your family’s relationship with each other.
Spending quality bonding time with your family is a simple concept yet it can be difficult to do, especially with the insistent demands of everyday life. But the good thing about it is it is something that you can aim to do every day. You may only realize its importance today but you can also start working on it today. Start with something small and simple and work your way up. It is never too late to build deeper relationships with your family.