How much quality time do you spend with your children?
In all honesty, probably not that much because of a number of commitments to work, family, and of course, your own personal time. Let me explain: of the 24 hours of each day, an average person sleeps for about 1/3 (or eight hours) of the time. Children spend, on average, another 1/3 of the day in school. That leaves roughly about eight hours that you can possibly spend with you children without factoring daily activities such as: bathroom rituals, driving to and from work/school, naps, meals, school considerations (e.g. after-school activities, assignments, field trips, etc.) office considerations (e.g. meetings, seminars, fellowship, etc.), computer use, the internet, gaming systems (PlayStation 2 and 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Game Cube and Wii, etc. and yes, even the perennial traffic that can really cut into the quality time you spend with your children.
As I have mentioned in some of my past columns, it is imperative for parents not only to see their children through their developmental years (the first seven years of life when values are formed) but also throughout their pre-adolescent and adolescent years. There will never be another time when your children will need you more.
Following Dr. Ma. Teresa Gustillo-Villasor’s Filipino developmental cycle, a mother is the most important figure in a child’s life during the first seven years, while the role of the father increases when the child reaches the ages of eight till 11 or 12. Soon after, both parents take a backseat as their children begin to gravitate towards their peers.
It would certainly be a shame if parents were to wake up one day and realize they weren’t too busy to make any significant time for their children. In the past, I have spoken to parents who have experienced such concerns – usually united in their feelings of regret – when their children no longer see them as the number one figure in their lives.
One parent put it eloquently when he compared his situation to that of a parent who lacked initiative. “Nothing against Bob (the other parent), but the difference between him and me is that I have made an investment n my family. That is what is important to me at the this point in my life.”
What parents need to realize is that for as long as there is an opportunity, there is still time.
In the case of “Bob,” he would need t work harder in gaining the attention of his children, as he doesn’t have the same relationship with his children as the other parent has with his. Parents also need to realize that buying extravagant toys or gifts for one’s children does not make up for not being there for them. It is as they say, a short-term solution to a long-term problem” as these “gifts” just get bigger and bigger in order for the parent to gain some semblance of love, authority, and sadly, personal satisfaction that they did something for their child.
Below are some activities mothers and fathers can try with their children this summer. Parents, remember, these are just suggestions. If you feel that your physical condition may not allow you to participate in these activities, do consult your doctor before attempting them. Remember, being there for your child doesn’t necessarily mean engaging in the activity, your presence and interest in what they want to do are more than enough.
Engage in sports with your children
Engaging doesn’t necessarily mean playing, though it is an option. Find out what sport your child is interested in and do some research on it (unless you are a sports buff yourself). You need not know who the famous players are of the sport of interest (on or two names will be sufficient), then engage your child with this information. You will be surprised how much they know. Now you both have a topic that you can use as a springboard into other topics that you can talk about with your children.
These are where invaluable memories are born; plus, it also keeps the children away from the television.
Plan a trip out of town and try something new
This does not necessarily mean going out of the country, as there are many exciting places to visit in the Philippines. Research and inquire about places you and your family can drive to for the day. Learn exciting trivia about where you are headed in order to capture the attention of your children. Bring other materials such as kites, a pail and shovel, beach balls, pens, paper, scissors, crayons you and your children can use in fun indoor or outdoor activities.
If sports or travel is not option, the family can have fun by just spending time together. Parents have to exert effort to make time for their children. This can be done with consistency in deed and by assigning an evening during the week or a day during the weekend that focuses on just on enjoying your family. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant; in fact, a movie and a family meal should be more than sufficient.
Above all, parents need to always remember to have genuine fun, as this is sure to rub off on the whole family.
* AS SEEN IN BABY MAGAZINE