When you add up all the time your kids spend at day care, school, sleeping, at friends’ homes, with babysitters, at camp, and otherwise occupied with activities that don’t include you, the remaining moments become especially precious. There are only 940 Saturdays between birth and leaving for college. That may sound like a lot, but how many have you already used up? If your child is 5 years old, 260 Saturdays are gone. And the older your kids get, the busier their Saturdays are with friends and activities. What about weekdays? Depending on your children’s ages and whether you work outside the home, there may be as few as one or two hours a day during the week for you to spend with them.
However, instead of worrying about how many minutes you can spend with your children each day, focus on turning those minutes into memorable moments and “teachable moments.” Teachable moments are those used to open a discussion with your children about things you really want to talk about but are afraid to bring up.
Parents often compensate for having such a small quantity of time by scheduling “quality time.” It could be two hours at the nature preserve; an afternoon at the movies; or dinner at a restaurant. But the truth is that quality time may occur when you least expect it — yes, at the nature preserve, but also in the car on the way to ballet practice.
What other ways can you think of to get quality time with your children? Try to incorporate these:
- Dinner as a family
- Bath time for younger children
- In the car – turn off the radio!
- Talking together at bedtime
Not every day with your kids will be perfect, but hopefully one day you will greet their departure with a profound sense of satisfaction because you’ve given them what they need to succeed and also given yourself what you need to feel like a successful parent.