Finding Kid-Time in Your Hurried Day
Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson
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You’re busy. There’s a lot on your plate and a lot on your mind. But recently you’ve realized that you spend very little time with your child. That doesn’t seem right.
If you’ve noticed that you get your child up and out the door to child care or school, pick her up at night, get her dinner, and pop her into bed, over and over every day of the week… then it may have occurred to you that someone else is raising her. You’ve discovered you don’t know her very well. Not only do you not have much quality time with your child, you don’t have much quantity time either. What can you do?
Many parents are caught in this dilemma. You’re not alone. But you’re correct in thinking that it’s important to make a change. Research has demonstrated that making time for your child at every age is important for all sorts of growth, from vocabulary to values.
Here’s how to get more kid-time in your day.
1. Schedule daily 5-minute conversations. Write these into your calendar. Make certain they happen and time yourself if you have to so these sessions last the whole 5 minutes. Start with at least three of these: one in the morning before you leave the house, one when you first see each other in the afternoon, and one before your child goes to bed. Keep these appointments without fail for three weeks – for a full 21 days.
2. During these 5-minute conversations, make your child your focus. Do not talk about things you want him to do, or things he’s done wrong, or how your own day has gone. Talk only about him and whatever he wants to talk about.
3. If you have more than one child, talk with each child three times a day for at least 5 minutes at a time. Talk with your children no matter how little or how big they are. The older your children, the more you need to keep the lines of communication open through friendly, everyday interactions.
Some studies have shown that even though parents these days spend more time in childcare than they did 10 years ago, this time is taken up by care-and-feeding, including driving kids about and witnessing their sporting events. Many parents spend scarcely any time at all actually talking with their child about casual topics. If you talk at least 15 minutes each and every day about things your child wants to tell you, you’ll be conversing with your child more than many other parents do.
Naturally, it’s fine if your conversations run longer. It’s great if you talk with your child more than three times a day. In fact, that’s the whole point. The more you and your child talk – about things your child wants to tell you – the easier it will be to talk about all sorts of things.
© 2012, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved.