Many parents I work with have a hectic schedule of appointments and activities which are fitted in and around work and home duties. These appointments and activities include things such as dental or hair appointments and sporting or cultural activities such a soccer, kindy gym or ballet classes.
Many parents want to give their children the best possible start in life and provide them with more opportunities than they themselves had, believing that these things will lead to more educated, healthy and well-rounded children. I admire their goals, dedication and commitment to getting the child to these classes.
Raising healthy, well-rounded children is so much more than just this.
One critical thing is the importance of ‘Together Time.’
Generally, when we take our children to music, dance or martial arts classes we hand our children across to a teacher or coach, and we, the parents, become spectators. And whilst there is nothing wrong at all with that, it is vitally important that children get time engaged with us.
If you have school aged children or if you are working and the children are in care, then Together Time during the week might be eating dinner together, or reading bed time stories, or helping them with their homework. On the weekend there are so many options:
Going to the beach
Going on a picnic
Going on a bicycle ride around your neighbourhood
Going to the movies
Planting out a vegetable garden,
Spend time in the backyard, mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, and watering it
Painting the paling fence together
Playing card or board games
Going on a bush walk
Go camping for the weekend or
Pitch a tent in the backyard and sleep the night in it
Make a fire in a pit and toast marshmallows on a stick
Visiting a local play ground
Going to the zoo
Going to a museum
Having a baking day at home
When you join together as a family and all participate in an activity, you are not only having fun together, but are also giving your children some valuable messages – some of these are spoken messages and some unspoken, but all are equally important. The messages might be:
We are a family
You are part of the family
We support and help each other
We encourage each other
We enjoy spending time together.
We can have fun together
We can work together to achieve something or a goal
You are important
I (the parent) like and choose to spend time with you
We might be busy but we make time for family
We regularly spend Together Time
‘Together Time’ might be family time as above, or it may be 1:1 time with one parent and one child. Again, it’s about spending quality time with the child engaged in an activity which they are interested in. It may be spending time with them ‘servicing’ their bicycle and showing them how to check the tyre pressure or how to grease the chain; or if they love cooking it could be showing them how to make a batch of scones; or if they love dinosaurs, it could be taking them to the museum.
Whether it’s Family Together Time or 1:1 Together Time, it is about connecting with the child/ren. No phones, no telly to interrupt you – just focused time.
Think back to a time when you felt someone was really ‘there’ for you, when they were attentive and present, and how good that felt. Conversely you might recall a time when you were with someone but they weren’t really attentive – it didn’t feel like you were important to them.
We want out children to grow up feeling they matter, and Together Time is one special way of doing that.
Can you make Saturday afternoons Together Time?
How can you give your children and yourself the gift of Together Time this week?
Happy Together Time!