The summer holidays pose the perfect opportunity to spend more time together as a family. As the break comes to an end however, and kids head back to school and parents back to their busy schedules, finding that quality time as a family becomes a lot more difficult.
Like most parents, time is something we all need more of particularly as daily routines become busy and as parents we are pulled in a thousand directions. Finding practical ways to tone down the busy schedule may seem challenging but it will greatly strengthen your relationship with your child and the family as a whole.
Dr Anna Cohen, Sydney’s leading Clinical Child Psychologist offers advice to parents on how to maximise time spent with your children by taking some simple but practical steps.
• Have a plan. Whether it’s a simple “To Do” list or just an understanding what you need to get done in a day, having a plan will prioritise tasks that need to get done from those that can be put off for another day. Planning time in your week to spend some quality time with your children whether it be with the family as a whole or individually will also help with prioritising. You could plan to play a game or do a craft activity, or for older children it could be as simple as going to a local café.
• Involve the kids. While delegating tasks to your children may seem like more of an effort, getting them to help out by folding clothes, setting the table, cleaning up toys and other odd jobs will leave more time at the end for everyone to spend together. Giving your child small tasks will also make them feel like a valued member of the family and help teach them independence.
• Plan meals ahead. Making dinner every night can easily become a chore, so plan ahead what you are going to make and double up on some night’s meals. This will mean you have some extra nights free for family time. Ensuring that meals are a time that the whole family can sit down together makes for an ideal time for the family to talk and spend time together. Putting rules in place such as having no phones at the dinner time and turning the television off will make sure that this time is used beneficially.
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• Help with homework. Helping your child with their homework reinforces your investment in what they are doing and encourages them to try harder in their academic pursuits. Going to the library is another way opportunity to take interest in what they doing at school.
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• Do family physical activities. Being active as a family can be as simple as taking the dog for a walk, going to the park, cricket in the backyard or a bike ride around the block, but it is the perfect opportunity to get in valuable time. Again it will be important to plan these activities into your weekly schedule so they can be prioritised.
As a parent knowing how to switch off from your busy schedule and just be with your children will be important in building a strong and supportive relationship all year round.
How do you squeeze in some quality family time once the kids head off to school?
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