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How can I spend more quality time with my child?

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A

Many things vie for parents’ time — work, home and yard upkeep, volunteer work, exercise and other responsibilities. Don't leave your children the last to fit in when everyone else is done with you. Consider this:

You’ve come home from a long, tiring day at work and are greeted enthusiastically by your child. You bend over, give your child a hug and say “I love you.” You then start toward the next thing in your busy day. But your child follows you and says, “I don’t want you to love me. I want you to play with me.”

There are differences in the ways people express love. Some people are task-centered and do things for others to express love. Others are verbal and tell others of their love. Both are important, but in general, children spell love T-I-M-E. A young girl might say she knows her dad loves her because he took her to the park and pushed her in the swing. Or a young boy might say he knows his mother loves him because she took him on a picnic. To children, the currency of love is time.

Much attention has been given to the idea of quality time. Quality time is important, but it doesn’t always happen on schedule. A certain amount of “hanging around together” time has to take place before quality comes into play.

Consider these ideas to put more time with your child into your schedule.

· Make dinner a priority. Avoid planning things during dinner time. Dinner time provides a time to talk and to be in touch with each other.

· Limit TV watching. The hours can quickly disappear in front of the tube. Consider limiting yourself (not just the kids) to one or two hours a night.

· Volunteer to coach your child’s team or lead your child’s club. These types of commitments will ensure that you spend time together. · Choose exercise routines or other activities that include your child.

· Make time together a priority. Schedule it in your planner. When someone else wants your time, tell them you already have a commitment. Children should know they are a priority and shouldn’t be left to fit into whatever time is left over.

· If you have more than one child, spend individual time with each of them. Ask them to make a list of things they would like to do with you, noting how much the activities will cost and about how long each will take. Rank activities based on affordability, interest or feasibility, but choose something, schedule it and do it. The rewards to you and your child will be well worth the effort.

Posted on 14 Oct 2005

Tom Lee
Family & Consumer Science Program Leader & Department Head, Financial Management Specialist

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