Kids spell L-O-V-E funny. They spell it T-I-M-E.
As a parent, even if your family values include investing time in your children, you don’t have to be Captain Obvious to realize this can be a challenge. Life…is…well…busy! What can we do to find more T-I-M-E to L-O-V-E our kids?
Here are four ideas even busy parents can implement to make family time one of your strongest family values…
Take walks. Kathy and I have taken walks with our kids before they could walk (aka stroller), when they were in pre-school, when they were in elementary school, when they were in middle school, and even now that we have one in college and two in high school. Please hear this loud and clear—nothing creates T-I-M-E to connect with your kids without distractions like taking walks together.
A few secrets we’ve learned over the years might be helpful here:
- Don’t try to establlished a magic schedule. Some weeks we walk once; other weeks it’s two or three times. Just go whenever possible. (By the way, we’ve found right before or after dinner are great times.)
- Don’t ask your children if they want to take a walk with you. Just kindly informed them they are taking a walk with you. Successful parenting isn’t so much a democracy as it is a benevolent dictatorship.
- Put up with the moans and groans because, believe it or not, they will pass. Our kids sometimes gripe, but most often they give us the “are you serious” stares when we announce it’s time for a walk. Yet within minutes we’re walking, talking, and laughing and during the next 20-30 minutes everyone’s spirits are lifted and we have a great time together.
- If your kids are young, NOW is the perfect time to start this tradition. The reason is by the time they are teenagers, you’ll have years of tradition on your side. What this means is every time your teens mumble or complain about walking, you can say with a smile: “You know this is just part of what our family does to stay close to one another.”
Eat dinner together. I know you’ve read about family dinner time before, but do you practice it as a family value? Kathy and I both work and at the end of the day we are tired. Yet sitting down and eating together is not just one more thing to check off our To-Do List. We look forward to family dinner time because it rejuvenates us to be together as a family!
We’ve also started something else recently. Instead of Kathy preparing the meal by herself, I’ll emerge from my office and we’ll turn on some music as we prepare a meal together. Our kids even help from time to time. These simple actions create an environment that gets us talking, sharing, and laughing.
Answer questions. Kids are inquisitive at every age. Even more, they are interested in your thoughts and opinions. So the next time your child asks you a question, STOP what you’re doing and listen. Her question is an indication she values your insight and only a less-than-intelligent parent would turn his back on such a great opportunity to pour into the life of his child.
Give space, then process together. Finally, when you have an argument with your child, be sure to give him time and space afterwards to process what just happened. In fact, you probably need space as well. After some time, revisit the situation to make sure each of you has taken responsibility for your actions, asked forgiveness if necessary, and learned from the experience. This will turn a potentially negative situation into a positive growth moment from each of you.
Yes, kids spell L-O-V-E funny. But personally, I think their spelling is perfect because it gives me another reason to spend T-I-M-E with my favorite people!
Questions: Is family time one of your most important family values? What strategies work best for you?