Webster’s Dictionary defines quality time as “time devoted exclusively to nurturing a cherished person or activity.” Yet working moms and dads are left with so few hours of downtime that it can seem impossible to nurture their children exclusively. Depriving kids of quality time can leave them so desperate for attention, they opt to get it from somewhere or someone else-the principal’s office, the opposite sex, and/or a gang.
Fortunately there are moments throughout the day when opportunities for quality time arise, giving you the chance to teach, encourage, and support your children.
Traveling to and from school
If you drive your child to school, have your child name items along your route that start with a particular letter of the alphabet, such as building, boulder, and bakery. If you walk your child to school, have your child identify geometric shapes in the environment, such as an octagonal stop signs or a rectangular door.
The waiting room
Routine examinations with the dentist, doctor, and optometrist can lead to a considerable amount of waiting room time. Bring along a deck of playing cards, such as Old Maid, Uno, or Go Fish. See how many wins you can gather before the nurse calls your name. If you don’t have any cards handy, use the literature provided to sharpen your child’s health skills. Most waiting rooms are filled with medical resources for patients to read. Have your child read health pamphlets and then quiz them on what they learned. You may also have your child read these pamphlets to you and then discuss them together.
The grocery store presents an array of lessons for your child. You can expand your child’s vocabulary by introducing them to unfamiliar fruits and vegetables, such as pomegranates, artichokes, and plantain. You can also sharpen your child’s math skills by having them estimate the total price of the items in your cart. You can even have your children compete against each other by divvying up the shopping list to see who can find the most items in the least amount of time. Make grocery shopping fun and never again will you have to scream “Stop that!” or “Get over here!”
Complete a project
As a family, organize the closets or build a bookstand. Working on a project together allows families to learn more about each other. Is your son more of a leader or a follower when it comes to group work? Can your daughter manage her time well? Completing a project together creates loads of opportunity for quality time and encourages family cooperation in the future.
Prolong your at-home time
Swipe out after work, pick up the kids, and spend 15 minutes on your front or back lawn jumping rope together or playing a quick game of basketball. The sun and activity will lift your spirits, causing you to leave the stress from work and traffic at your doorstep. More importantly, your children will expend some of the energy stored up from sitting in a classroom for the past six or more hours.
Give IOU coupons
IOU coupons are usually given to spouses and lovers on Valentine’s or Sweetest Day. Why not give them to your children? Create coupons, such as “Day of Doing Anything You Wish” or “Special Saturday Together” and give them to your children as presents. That way if your daughter feels she is not getting enough one-on-one time with you, she can hand you a coupon instead of trying to gain your attention through unfavorable means.
Parental involvement leads to success not just in school, but at home. When parents take the time to teach, play, and laugh with their children, the results are priceless: Children end up with a higher vocabulary, and parents end up with a better understanding of their children. Find moments throughout the day when you can nurture your child with love, understanding, and wisdom. Eventually, you won’t need to find the time; it will unexpectedly appear.