Becoming a Better Parent

Magic of Quality Time

Quality time promotes well-being and joy. It’s our time to establish a connection with our children, to make our kids feel valued, and to etch in their minds the words most parents leave unsaid, “You are important.” As parents, we want to have a deep bond with our children but feel helpless despite our best efforts. Spending quality time with our children may prove to be a magic ingredient, so here’s decoding it so that we have clarity in our thoughts and actions.

Benefits: A strong and healthy connection makes the child feel more secure and enables them to navigate difficult times with confidence. They start perceiving the parents as their support and source of safety. For busy parents, it’s a guard against the guilt trip that they aren’t giving enough time to their kids. It can also become a way to gradually channel their energies in more constructive ways. They may hopefully (depending on the activities) begin to notice what calms them and brings true inner joy vis-à-vis the exciting outer activities, which often leave you exhausted and spent. 

Characteristics: The time is exclusively for the child. It has to be fun and enjoyable. Children should look forward to it. The time you spend teaching your children or doing daily chores for them cannot be counted in this unless both of you treasure that time. Usually, some stress and friction enter these activities. The activity chosen should be enjoyable for both the parent and the child. The child should be given a choice of what activity they want to do together. Allow no interruptions unless an emergency arises, which means that it’s a good idea to keep your cell phone in another room with the notifications turned off.

Time needed: It is good to spend quality time together regularly. Some time has to be blocked on a daily basis. If done randomly, benefits may not be that pronounced and give the impression that children will fit in if time and energy permit. 

Unknowingly, we transmit the message that providing for the family is more important than the family itself. Everyone wants to be heard, valued and loved. It’s as basic a need as having food on the plate. If it’s not met at home, people look elsewhere, and that may mean children fall into ‘wrong company’. 

Scheduling the time also lets children know and expect it. Otherwise, if it conflicts with their routine or plans, they might resent it, especially teenagers. Time spent could be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or so, depending on your schedule. Work your schedule to block that time for your kid to give the message, “You are valued.” Larger time blocks can be made on weekends or monthly. 

Activities: Choose activities that are engaging, creative, fun, and more hands-on. They should calm your nervous system and not overstimulate it. It should leave us feeling recharged rather than drained. 

Storytelling can be one such activity. Playing board games can be another. Rather than playing ludo or carrom on a smartphone, using a physical board makes it more fun-filled and experience-rich, as sensory cues are intricately linked to cognition and memory. 

Other good options are going for a walk, maybe singing, dancing, painting together, or creating things of beauty. Age-old games like Dumb Charades or Pictionary are also great. You could invent your own fun games too. It’s not necessary to play the same games every day, or you can if it’s really enjoyable. Some activities, among many others, like baking and karaoke nights, can be done on a weekly or monthly basis. These are mere suggestions. 

Some families visit malls on weekends and enjoy them. Well, if that’s the best you can do, it’s better than nothing. Or maybe it can be a starting point, and gradually you can factor in visiting parks once in a while. If all your child wants to do with you is play cricket, maybe start there, create that bond, and gradually introduce other activities. 

Love of Reading: reading stories to your child from a book, or your child reading to you or grandma reading while the whole family sits together—all very enriching experiences. If your kids are a little older, you could read and discuss the books they like to get a peek into their minds and how they interpret things. Physical books offer various advantages over digital books, one of which is better memory recall.

Learning new skills: Learning along with children can be fun and a great icebreaker, be it baking, origami, music, dancing lessons, or being part of a drama club. Learning skills like finger knitting, weaving, carpentry, and crochet have a host of benefits as they calm our overactive nervous system. 

When children see the things they have created not only kept at home but also being used, loved, and appreciated, their confidence soars to another level. 

We must endeavour to keep out sermonising and preaching and allow the learning to happen in its natural way rather than faster. This will help in developing the confidence that learning can be done at any age and that skills can be mastered if we are willing to invest time and effort. An important life lesson.

Group activities: Once in a while, parents of children who play together can get together with children and enjoy some activities. They can either go to a park or do it at their homes. 

In one of our get-togethers, the children ditched cold drinks in favour of ‘nimbu-paani’ they made themselves, and we played hopscotch together with our children. Apart from our children, we, as mothers, bonded too. That get-together has been one of my most cherished ones. There was so much love and laughter. 

Events: Going to the theatre, food festivals, and book fairs is not only a way of connecting but also enriches the child’s mind. While going to the malls overstimulates the nervous system making us more worn out, trips like these help to calm down our nerves, which ultimately has a host of health benefits. If literature fests are happening around, especially make time to visit even if for a while.

Travel and Picnics: Good old picnics to a nearby park with the family were a great bonding opportunity when we were growing up. It would be nice to have it revived. Playing frisbee, gulli-danda, pitthoo, or badminton with adults used to be so much fun. 

While visiting new cities, try to get a taste of local traditions and savour the experience. They will be memories in the future. Also, if possible, make time to visit your ancestral home or hometown once in a while. For us, it’s been mango season so far. Knowing where you grew up and interesting stories from your childhood has some magic for your children, and sometimes these visits and stories are therapeutic too.

In conclusion, quality time also helps the parent unwind and become a child again. It builds a space of safety, and the chances of your children going astray become less. The bond that develops is not only helpful in the long run but also makes daily hassles easier to solve as the kids become more receptive. So choose the activity that makes your child crave more and see the magic.

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About Dr. Mona Choudhary

I,Dr. Mona {Psychiatrist(M.B.B.S., MD) am a strong advocate of holistic health, meditate regularly, have tried different models of education like homeschooling, alternate school etc. for my super energetic son. I focus on basics and use my medical training and over a decade of experience in psychiatry to give practical advice on difficult parenting issues via individual consultation, workshops and this blog so that parents can become their best versions uplifting the child in the process.
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