Perhaps you’ve discovered that quality time is your child’s primary love language. Or maybe you’ve decided that you need to get better at spending valuable time with your children. For some parents, knowing what to do and how to have quality time is easy and comes very naturally. But for others, it is a challenge: What does my child need for me during quality time? How do I know it’s actually been real quality time and not just time?
Here are some ways to be sure that your quality time with your kids is truly QUALITY.
Define QUALITY time.
To give your child quality time is to give them a portion of your life. It’s one of the hardest things to give your kids because it means giving your TIME.
But it’s not just about the TIME, it’s about what you do with that time. Real valuable time is not just time together; it’s not just being in the same room watching TV, or even sitting at the dinner table together. Quality time is when your child knows that they are the focus of your attention. It is a time when you are truly connecting with your child. Just because you spend a lot of time with your child does not mean you are truly connecting with them.
Obviously, all time with your child does not need to be amazing. That’s not possible or practical. But if your goal is quality time, then you must focus on time that makes them the center of your attention.
Quality Time Includes Quality Conversations.
A large part of “quality time” is quality conversations, the kind of communication that focuses on listening more than talking. Those kinds of conversations include:
- Asking questions. Not interrogative, but interest questions. Ask for your child’s thoughts or opinions. And then listen without critiquing or condeming.
- Staying away from “YOU” statements. They sound accusatory. Instead use “I” statements.
- Speaking calmly and matter-of-factly.
- Echoing. Reflect or repeat back to your child exactly each word, “I heard you say…”
- Using the word “and” instead of “but. But is an eraser. I love you AND I feel sad when you say things like that instead of I love you BUT I feel sad when you say things like that.
- Making the goal of quality time this: to hear, understand and know your child better.
Make Space for Quality Time.
Unfortunately, valuable time with your kids doesn’t just happen when we snap our fingers. That’s why it’s important to create space for it. Set aside times consistently and set aside longer periods of time that will open the door for quality conversations to happen.
For instance, if you set aside time with your child to go camping or fishing, or maybe just take daily walks, you are creating space. Some days there will be nothing profound or deep that comes from those times; other days you may have the most amazing conversations. You never know when your child is going to open up and you never know when those deeper conversations will happen. But you will not have them if you don’t create the space for them.
Make family meals quality time.
Family meals are perfect for quality conversations. Don’t waste them. Make them about more than food for the body, make them about food for the soul as well.
- Be sure you are having meaningful eye contact, which means NO PHONES!
- Teach your child proper table manners.
- Give your child a daily compliment.
- Have everyone at the table share their highs and lows of the day.
- Stay away from problem talk at dinner. If you have issues or problems to talk through, wait until after dinner.
- Ask valuabale questions. I know one familiy who had a question box in the middle of the table and every meal they each answered a couple of questions from the box. It was light and fun and made the meal interactions enjoyable.
- Your kids will pick up a lot of values through mealtime discussions. I remember many meals growing up when my family sat around the table and talked and talked, sometimes long after the meal was done. In those conversations, I learned a lot about life and the things that were reallly important.
Quality times do not have an agenda.
Spending quality time with your child should be free from ulterior motives. You should not go into those appontments with an agenda, meaning you have a list of things you want to discuss. Your only agenda is to focus on listening and geting to know your child. Your goal is to enjoy being with your child. That’s it. If you need to have a serious conversation, then schedule that for another time.
Quality time may or may not be spontaneous. With today’s busy schedules, it’s a good idea to schedule in space for quality time on your calendar. Ask your child what they would like to do for an outing. That intentionality will result in allowing for time with your child that will, sooner or later, give you some pretty awesome conversations.
If you would like help with any part of your parenting, please schedule a free call here.