Children look forward to having their parents spend time with them during the school holidays. Are you fretting over whether you can apply leave to bring your children out? Will your work pile up or will your boss be unhappy if you are away from the office for too long? With many households in Singapore being dual-income, parents tend to have a problem juggling work commitments and being with their children.
Are we as parents spending enough time with our children? Of course, if you ask kids, they will probably never think they are getting enough time with their parents. But for my husband and me, we are more concerned that the time we dedicate to our children, however long or short, is actually quality time. Whether it be taking time off to accompany your children during their school holidays or simply on a regular weekend, here are some suggested activities to engage your kids in a productive and positive manner.
Put your gadgets aside
Aren’t we all guilty of this so often? We may be physically with our children, but our eyes and minds are more focused on our mobile phones or iPads. If we really intend to spend quality time with our children, try putting aside our electronic gadgets and sincerely focus on having a good conversation with the children by asking them about their school, friends, etc. When we do that, we will realize they have so much to share, which we probably missed out in our busy lives.
Play their games
Playing games together with kids should be fun. But some parents tend to choose games to their own liking instead those that their kids will want to play. Kids lose interest easily if the games are not to their level of understanding, so it is important to choose games that are age-appropriate and suit their interests. For example, toddlers will enjoy things like as hide-and-seek, blowing bubbles and racing cars. As for primary school children, they will fancy games such as video console games and board games.
Doing chores together
Trying to complete the household chores can take up a lot of time after work or even on weekends, especially for families without domestic helpers. Getting your kids involved not only helps to lighten the load but can be a good way to bond with them too. The children will understand the parents’ efforts in keeping the home clean and not mess up easily. We will never know how big a help are our children are till we involve them in the chores.
Fetching them to school
My hubby’s favourite time with my children is when he fetches them to school as he gets to go through the timetable for the day with them and listen to how they will be spending their day, in school and after school. That is why we choose not to let our children take the school bus and take time to drive them instead.
Going through homework
Most of our children might have completed their homework during their tuition or after school care classes, but we should still spend time going through homework with them. This enables us to find out their strengths and weaknesses academically. A child might not want to let his/her parent know about the difficulties he/she faces in schoolwork, especially if the parent is very strict on academic matters. After finding out their strengths and weaknesses in their schoolwork, we can talk them through and understand more to be involved in their school life.
Having a picnic together has always been a great way to bond with one another. Getting your child to be involved in the planning process, be it packing the food or giving ideas on what games to play – heightens the interest and can make the actual outdoor activity all the more fun.
Get the children to plan an effective, positive and rewarding vacation and really be together. Children will get very happy and excited when they know that their parents are planning a vacation for them. By involving them in the planning, we will be able to let them take charge of the vacation and better enjoy it together as a family.
Although it may seem like a tall order to plan a night-time activity, especially for parents who usually get back from the office only after the children are in bed, we can always try to leave the office slightly earlier once in a while or set aside one evening during the weekends to go on a stroll around the neighbourhood with them just before their usual sleeping time. The key is to have them don their pyjamas so that they are ready to go to bed straightaway after the walk. The pyjamas walk will not only give your children a gentle and quiet time to tone down, but also some special moments with them that otherwise might have been lost to TV or the chaotic time getting them to go to bed.
Children enjoy bedtime stories where they can snuggle in their bed and listen to tales narrated by their parents. I will usually use this chance to also wind down and talk to my children about their day in school and after school. However short it may be, this is a good opportunity for you to learn more about their school life daily. You can also assess their emotional status such as whether they are happy, sad or worried and address their concerns before they end their day and start with a fresh day tomorrow.
Maid’s day off
Most families that engage domestic helpers tend to rely on the extra help to take care of their children’s needs. But this may adversely result in less opportunity for parents to spend quality time with the children. We often hear stories about some children being more attached to helpers than their own parents. Try to be more hands on and attend to your children needs personally instead of relying on the helpers. Alternatively, spend the weekend with the children without the helpers.
There are of course more ways to spend quality time with your children, depending on your schedule and the interests of your children. Feel free to share your experience with other busy KiasuParents here.