How would you spend one hour of quality time with your kids?
I ask this question because a recent poll of 1500 parents with children under the age of 6 by Thomas Cook discovered that 80% of us know we don’t spend anywhere near enough time with our little ones during the average working week.
Worse, the research found that 50% of British parents spend less than ONE hour of quality time a day with their children.
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43% of families struggle to find the time to sit down together to eat, whilst 25% haven’t even got the time to talk about what’s happened that day.
During the average working week parents will only read with their children for a total of 32 minutes, and play with them for just 43 minutes.
Only 36 minutes are spent sitting at the dining table together, while meaningful conversations are crammed into just 32 minutes a week.
Long working hours, chores, cooking the dinner and running our kids to and from their clubs and sports mean many of us barely have time to breathe!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, for half of those polled holidays are a top spending priority for 2018, because they give a momentary breather which allows us to reconnect.
That’s fine it you have the budget. But what can you do to make more quality time with your kids when childcare costs are high and the demands of our employers even higher?
The challenge of being a working mum or dad is endlessly tricky and involves not a little guilt and sadness at the family milestones which are often missed.
If you do have little time, what can you do to make the most of this magical 60 minutes (or even less)?
It depends on the age of your children of course and when you have the time to be with them.
Nothing beats a bath, book and bed routine to help settle kids. Even now I will put Caitlin and Ieuan to bed and allow them to settle by reading for a half hour or so before they put out the light.
Here are some things you might like to try to get the make more quality time with your kids, depending on their age of course.
- Sing nursery rhymes or songs together
- Read a book taking turns to read each page
- Draw a picture of what happened that day
- Play counting games or practise times tables
- Play with salt dough
- Try some simple yoga poses
- Kids can learn to meditate or practise mindfulness too
- Bake some easy to make biscuits or cupcakes
- Play with Lego or building bricks
- Build a den or a fort
- Lay the table for breakfast
- Teach them to clean and polish their school shoes
- Get everything ready for the school run
- Let them help prepare their lunchboxes and snacks
- Go for a brisk walk or spend time outside in the garden or park
- Plan a weekend treat together – draw up a bucket list of activities to try and places to go.
- Play a musical instrument – we have a piano keyboard
- Help them to write a gratitude journal or diary
- Phone or Skype the grandparents
- Get them to practise their ballet or Tae Kwon-do moves
- Pick a gentle family movie to watch
- Walk the dog or play with the cat
- Play simple card games or a board game
- Write a letter to a grandparent, relative or penpal
- Help them with their homework
- Make puppets and hold your own puppet show
- Read or write poetry
- Make a vision board together and stick it on your fridge
- Create a savings chart and see how much lose change your kids can squirrel away
- Make mini entrepreneurs and let them set up a ‘restaurant’ or ‘shop’
- Make slime!
- Go through old toys and set them aside for a weekend trip to the charity shop
- Count the stars – see if you can recognise any of the constellations
- Listen to classical music. Introduce them to composers such as Mozart
- Plant bulbs or herbs in the garden, or a windowsill pot
There are loads of things you can do which don’t require money. And let’s be honest, what our children really want from us it TIME.
Interestingly, Thomas Cook’s research found that parents will spend five times as long reading with their kids on holiday (two hours and 45 minutes), and 10 times longer playing with them (six hours and 50 minutes).
Families will sit together for a proper meal nine times longer on holiday than at home, and perhaps most importantly, conversations will cover four hours a week instead of just half an hour.
Great though this is, our challenge as parents is to find ways to give our kids the time they need without being squashed flat by tiredness or guilt ourselves.
And we need to find ways to do this in the 50 weeks when we’re not on holiday.
Time for more employers to step up to the plate and offer flexible working hours, a wider range of part-time and job share options and help with childcare. HR could assist with supplying information about useful resources, for example a tutor network such as Tutoo, babysitting networks or even doctor and dental surgeries that offer out of hours appointments.
After all, with recruitment costs spiralling, surely it’s more important than ever for employers to do everything they can to keep their existing talent.
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