But, we have good news for busy parents! A recent study in the Journal of Marriage and Family questions the impact the amount of time mothers or fathers spend with their children has on the academic achievement, behavior, emotional and well-being of their children. This is not to negate the importance of time spent with children but rather to reinforce the point that quality of time is much more important than quantity of time. Children need high-quality parents – this is what is most beneficial to children and what can have a positive effect on them as they grow. It isn’t about endless hours of time; it’s about how you choose to spend time with your children that truly matters.
As parents, we can make choices to ensure time spent with our children is high-quality. Below are few tips for busy families on spending more quality time with your little ones:
- Have daily “connect” time with your child. Do this face-to-face if possible, but if that is not an option then you can try creating a routine for doing so in other ways. For example, leaving a note in your child’s lunch box, posting a note by his or her toothbrush or simply writing an encouraging saying on a whiteboard in the house.
- Create a special routine for you and your child – something that can be done every day. For example, let your child choose and read one book with you at bedtime.
- Tell your child you love them every day. Remind them how important they are to you and how they make you feel.
- Make and eat meals with your little one whenever possible. If your time together is limited, look for simple meals that require little preparation, or grab a healthy snack such as an apple and sit for a few minutes and chat with your child.
- Try and schedule time for doing an activity of your child’s choosing. Be sure to follow through and complete the activity without any distractions.
- Reinforce positive behavior. For example, if your child completes their chores without your asking, acknowledge it with words of appreciation – even if you don’t have the chance to do so until the next day.
- Play with your child, even if it’s during bath time or outside before you drop her or him off at preschool. Every little bit of quality time makes a positive impact!
- Turn off technology when spending time with your child. Try not to text, answer calls, scroll through social media or watch television.
Meaningful connections are about quality of time not quantity of time. Keep it simple and connect with your child in ways that make sense for your lifestyle and relationship. Each connection has a lasting impact and provides the support and reassurance that your child needs.