The question of quality - how to ensure that you make the most out of the time spent with kids

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What with overseas call after work, home work to be supervised, dinner to be made, the dog to be walked and the spouse to be nagged to help, spending ‘quality time’ with your kids would be the last thing on your mind especially on week days. But have you ever wondered for a moment about what exactly “quality time” means? ‘Quality time’ with kids is one of the most misused and misunderstood words in parenting. So if you are one of the above mentioned full time working mothers, wait a moment before you begin to drown yourself in guilt. There is absolutely no evidence to point out that stay at home moms spend more (or for that matter less) quality time with their children. Surprised? Well here are a few thoughts on what exactly is meant by quality time and how you can ensure that you max out those precious few minutes that you spend with kids.

What exactly is quality time? Any time that is spent nurturing your child, communicating with him and creating happy memories is quality time. Quality time should ideally leave both your child and you with a smile on your lips and a happy feeling in your heart. So it doesn’t matter if you can achieve this on a trip to Disney world or playing horsey in your living room. The idea is not to focus so much on what you are doing, instead focus on how much fun you can have while doing it. So whatever be your situation, whether you are working or at home full time, remember to take the effort to spend some time each day with your children and watch them grow into happy confident and successful individuals.

The first thing to remember is that in order for both, you and your child to enjoy the time spent together, it is important to do something that your child enjoys doing. So don’t force your seven year old son who would rather play alien war games with you, to play monopoly and expect him to create everlasting memories on how you sold a factory and he bought it.

Have a meal together at least three times a week. In today’s times when children prefer cartoon characters as their dinner partners and adults seek the company of their ipads or TV serials, the dinner table conversation, once the bedrock of all family relationships is slowly dying. If eating together everyday seem impractical to you, make a conscious effort to at least share three meals a week. Don’t stress on impeccable table manners and finishing up the greens at such times; you may be surprised at how much you child might open up when he finds himself in a relaxed environment with attentive and non judgmental parents.

Have a bed time ritual with your child. If your child enjoys being read to, then read from his favorite story books. Dim the lights and cuddle up. If he does not like stories cuddle up and go through his and your day with him. Let him speak about what he wants to share. Give him your complete attention without prodding. Another way is to ask him to go through his day and tell you five things to be thankful for. You can join in and toss it back and forth. So you could be thankful that your child got ready by himself in the morning in time for the school bus and he could be thankful that he got a really nice pencil box.

Keep aside separate time to spend with each of your children, if you have more than one child. It is very important to spend one on one time with them instead of piling them all together for a dinner or to movie, which is great but not all the time. See that each child gets his turn to spend time with you.

At the end of the day remember that what ever you do, make a genuine effort to spend some dedicated time with your kids. Remember that your kids are smart enough to understand whether they have your complete attention. So trying to tell a story while furiously messaging on whatsapp does not score brownie points with them. Keep away all distractions for that time you have set aside for them. Always keep in mind that for children, LOVE is often spelt as TIME.

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p c dalal father of v, dalal