Ask a Mentor Mom - How do I fit in quality time with my kids?

Question:
One of my children's love language might be quality time. I'm really struggling on how to make this happen now that his younger sibling doesn't nap anymore. The three of us are together all the time! I've tried mother-child dates a couple of times on the weekend but never know what to do that is fun but gives him focused attention. Any ideas for dates or carving out daily snippets of time?



Response from Wendy Latiolais:
My oldest craved one on one time after his 1st brother was born. I suspect it has a lot to do with the 7 and a half year age gap. Something we did that worked for him was every Friday night was movie and snack night. HE chose the movie, some times it was one we had or we rented a movie. He chose his snack. It was a non-negotiable, meaning it's not something that could be taken away from him in a punishment and no matter how much I didn't want to do it sometimes we did it anyway because it made him feel important and like we wanted to be around him. We never spent very much money and it was important to him.

Response from Melanie Ryder:
A lot depends on the age of the children. Quality time doesn't always mean one on one. Sometimes it could be helping cook dinner like dumping ingredients, loading the dryer, or anything else. Maybe while the others are busy do a puzzle or read a picture book together. Running errands with my dad was something I would do to spend time with him.
Also here is a inspiring link (click here) of how one woman worked quality time with her kids into her schedule. 

Response from Connie Saylor:
It doesn't have to be big things- it can be little things- like choosing a book at the library that would interest him to read together, playing a favorite game or tossing a ball outside. It's basically noticing the things that interest him. Maybe it's taking him along with you on an errand while dad watches the younger sibling. And while you're at the store choosing a favorite ice cream flavor or treat to bring home. You can also do one on one dates when possible- but it's also good to do "dates" with both kids or family dates so they can see that family can have fun together as well. When my kids were younger, Saturdays were adventure days - and all the kids went together - but they had fun with their siblings and it was good family time.

Response from Noreen Sell:
Like Connie says...sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest impact. Putting down the phone, or stepping away from the kitchen sink to sit at the table and look the child in the eye while listening to their story...little things that tell them you care about them and what is important to them. These build the habits for both of your discussions as your kids become teens and adults. All my kids loved me reading to them, especially at bedtime. I would read in the hall outside the bedrooms, then go into each kid and say goodnight...there are SO MANY things they remembered they wanted to tell me at bedtime :-) 
Also, I wish I'd spent more time praying with my kids, especially individually. I think that finding out what THEY want to pray about gives incredible insight into what is near and dear to their hearts...fears, likes & hopes.

Response from Marie Nelson:
Sometimes, I think we think of "Quality Time" as a big event. Then the thinking becomes, how can I possibly fit in one more big event with my kiddo. Think of Quality Time as a series of mini events...mini moments that tell your individual child how special they are, or that this moment you have is between just the two of you. What makes it special is your focus on them. 
You can be cleaning the house, doing dishes, running errands or any myriad of tasks, but when your focus comes off the task at hand and includes them in your "doing", you are creating mini moments where your child sees themselves as an integral part of your life. I used to bake bread regularly. Bread making was a task on my list, but soon became the favorite quality time for my eldest child. She got to help measure, mix, and pour all the ingredients as well as kneading and forming her own loaves. To include her was often messy and painstaking, because I just wanted to get the job done. But with each passing venture, she got better and better. And the conversations around the mixing bowl were all about her. Whether baking bread, raking leaves, or splitting wood, working side by side has been one of our family's favorite Quality time builders.

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