Life is so busy. You feel me? Even in lockdown, during days where I feel unproductive, I’ll look back and wonder where the time went. But the one thing I never miss out on is spending quality time with my kids. Children grow up so fast, the phrase, ‘blink, and you’ll miss it’ really is true. One of the best things my husband and I have ever done was deciding to prioritize spending specific time with each of our kids. It’s one of the best tools we have for keeping our family so close together. Spending time with your children is not just necessary for their well-being but also for yours too!
But even more than spending quality time with them is understanding the importance of seeing them as they are. I love the book The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle because it breaks down different energy types in children and explains how they may present themselves in their personality. For instance in my home Jayda is a Type 1 Happy go lucky child. Ty is my Type 2 sensitive child. And Lee Lee is my Type 3 determined child. I’m also a Type 1, so I can see why I thought Jayda “got her personality from me” because we are so similar. Just happens to be we are the same energy type.
Why you should prioritize spending quality time with your kids
Every parent already spends a large amount of time with their children (does anyone else have a hard time going to the restroom without your toddler tagging along?), but ask yourself, is it genuinely quality time? For me, quality time is giving your kids your undivided attention, following their lead, and doing things at their speed. This time does not have to be a chore. It can be as easy as a few minutes a day without any distractions.
Children who are spending more quality time with their families are less likely to have behavioral issues at home or school, according to ‘Modern Parent’ Catherine Jones. They are also highly unlikely to participate in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol usage. Beyond the stats, by spending regular quality time with your kids, you strengthen their mental health and emotional intelligence. Studies have even shown that kids spending more quality time with their families are more likely to be physically healthy too!
How we prioritize spending quality time with our kids
Each one of our kids is prioritized as an individual so we try to set aside time for each of them, separate from their siblings. Kids need one-on-one time to help build stronger relationships and sometimes it’s easier for them to tell you the things they want to talk about when they’re away from their siblings.
Our kids are unique. That’s what makes them so amazing. We want to encourage them to follow their own passions rather than being copycats of their older siblings. To make sure we stick to this plan, we’ll set aside specific non-negotiable time to spend with each of them.
Quality Time Though Books
We’ve developed a pretty good nighttime routine that helps us prioritize quality time with them. When our youngest Lee Lee goes to bed, one parent will be rocking her to sleep and ensuring the full bedtime procedure goes to plan. At the same time, the other parent will be reading to Jayda and Ty – usually a book that they pick out.
Long-time followers of my blog will know just how much of a big reader I am. Words can transport us to foreign lands and can surround us with beautiful characters – plus open our eyes to new perspectives and teach us how to be brave. It’s so important that my children get to experience this and can fall in love with reading, even if the topics aren’t topics I personally gravitate to.
My family has a straightforward reading routine every night. My husband and I are crafting quality moments and memories with our children without feeling like we’re taking huge chunks of our own time away from work or our social lives.
I’d encourage any parent to schedule some family reading time with their young kids. If any of my kids come up to me with a book, I will drop everything during the day to sit and read with them. If you need to add some more books to your bookshelf, my 16 best diversity and inclusion books for kids blog is a great place to start.
I try make sure that I read to each child separately. Jayda and Ty are of different ages and have vastly different interests. While we do sometimes read the same books to Jayda and Ty, I love it even more when we can do individual quality time. I let them pick the book. This is their chance to take a lead role in deciding what they want to read and what conversations they want to have.
Seeing Them as They are, Not as We Want Them to be
Quality time isn’t just saved for the evenings. During weekends and holidays, I reserve time purely for bonding with my kids. Sometimes, these moments have turned into ongoing projects. For Ty, transforming his bedroom into a jungle room was a fun bonding project for us. He loved helping to choose his new room decor, and I loved watching him light up over his animal passions. When I’m doing one-on-one time with Jayda, we’re often making videos together. If you haven’t already, check out our YouTube channel Jennifer and Jayda.
And over the last few years, Jayda has occasionally asked me to step into the role as a home cheer coach. She asks me to give her advice and record her doing her back tucks or back handsprings. We will also work together on video editing. This is something that Jayda has asked for, not something I have suggested. She sees this as her opportunity to use me to help her achieve whatever she wants to put her mind to. And I love watching her creative mind light up.
Ty uses his quality time in a different way. While with my husband, he may play horse or exercise alongside him, with me a lot of the time, he just wants to talk. He’ll often read me his animal books or discuss who he thinks would win in different animal battles. I’m always so amazed by his intelligence and passion for wildlife. He gets to see me hanging on his every word. And that inspires him to continue studying and find more animal facts.
Right now Lee Lee enjoys being outside. Gardening (and eating straight from the garden) and just overall being busy and fun (although my most tricky toddler). I’m excited to continue to watch her unique interests evolve.
Need some more quality time ideas?
It’s always best to let your kids take the lead, but if they’re struggling for inspiration, here are some helpful hints!
- Often, we’ll ask one of our kids what new book they want. It doesn’t have to be a book we buy. Just browsing our local library or digital catalogue gives us ideas and a glimpse into their interests.
- Family movie night. Though this is usually quality time together as our entire family, we take turns picking the movie (and dinner). That allows each child to feel special on their movie night.
- Learn something new together. Or try something fun. Lately my husband and the kids have been enjoying playing old school Super Nintendo games and learning how to beat them. It’s random but it’s quality time they thoroughly enjoy.
- But even something as simple as going on walks together. Or taking one child with you to the groceries and turning off the radio. That way the pair of you can just talk is an excellent foundation for spending quality time with your kids.
I’d love to hear how your family spends quality time together. Let me know by commenting below!