As children grow up, it becomes very important for parents to observe how their kids spend their free time. Balancing school work, hobbies, and leisure time might get difficult if their routine is unorganized or if they don’t have a say in it. While parents ensure that their children spend their time productively, they should teach their children accountability instead of taking ownership themselves. This has to be a collaborative effort which also helps you spend some quality time with your child. This time spent with kids affects their behaviour, academics, emotional and physical well-being which will benefit the kids in the long run. But how does one plan productive activities with their children?
It’s usually during school vacations children and parents get this privilege of spending some extra time with each other, but the pandemic has changed that to some extent. Our schedules have collided with each other and although it brings challenges of its own, it also offers a great opportunity to practice productive habits within the family. Not only do you get to help plan each other’s schedules, you can also collaborate on tasks and share responsibilities.
The “Quality family time industrial complex”
A lot of parents tend to worry about spending quality time with their children–especially working parents. But how does one differentiate quality time? Sometimes parents confuse it with big, extraordinary gestures that either burn a hole in their pocket or require creative thinking. However, a study led by Tamar Kremer-Sadlik, a professor of anthropology at UCLA, defines quality time as literally nothing special.
“What actually contributes to the development of a healthy child-parent relationship is concentrated, unstressed, and uninterrupted time.” The author further explains, Everyday activities (like household chores or running errands) may afford families quality moments, unplanned, unstructured instances of social interaction that serve the important relationship-building functions that parents seek from ‘quality time.’
Engaging with your child by planning activities together, participating in their interests or simply giving them your undivided attention while spending time with them will set a strong foundation for your relationship. This will also give them a sense of belonging, an environment conducive to learning and a framework for success. The absence of these can reflect in their behaviour in different ways; aggressive or passive behaviour, indifference, stress & lack of interest in activities children of their age usually enjoy.
Now let’s look at ways you can spend time with your kids productively and constructively.
- Start with Morning Routine
Following a morning routine teaches kids consistency and focus. Even as they grow up, such habits stay with them. You can start your morning routine with your child by working out, reading, meditating, watering plants or gardening. Starting your day with activities that nurture your body and mind can be the best warm-up for a day filled with tasks. You can also start your day on a positive note by practising affirmations.
- Cook Together
Cooking is a life skill that will make your child’s life easier in many ways- be it on the days you need an extra hand when they are moving out for college or work or even as a hobby that even works like meditation. The easiest way to get them started is by involving your child in the preparation of their favourite meal, it will be fun for them and a great help to you. Begin with instructing them on how to wash veggies, snap peas, grate cheese, roll dough, peel hard-boiled eggs, wrap foil around food etc. Once they’ve mastered these, teach them to use a knife to chop veggies and use a gas stove with safety measures. Cooking can teach them how to be patient in the most natural way.
- Play Brain-tickling Games
What could be more fun for kids than their parents playing games with them? Games like scrabble, monopoly, puzzles, chess, Math & Coding games can be good stimulation for their brain. The latter can especially help them focus better, improve problem-solving skills and also boost their academic performances. You can also play a quiz with them in which every question begins with ‘why’. Ask them questions such as ‘Why is the river blue?’, ‘why is the sun hot?’, ‘why are the leaves green?’ etc. See what they answer, if they answer wrong give them a day to find it. Observe how they are trying to get the answer, notice how keen they are to solve that quiz. If they are unable to get the answer, help them. Then the next day let them ask you questions and, if possible, answer them in a practical way. Games like these can build curiosity and expand knowledge
- Read a Book to Them
The research, ‘Reading aloud to Children: The Evidence’, sheds light on how reading plays a significant role in a child’s language development, improving social skills and strengthening the child-parent relationship. Hence, reading is one of the most productive habits that children should acquire early in their life. Read diverse stories, or if they are particularly interested in a specific genre, get them the best works or introduce them to authors from that genre. Reading helps them build knowledge, imagination and vocabulary.
- Take them on Educational Trips
Instead of taking your kids to hill stations like every summer vacation, you should consider taking them on mini educational trips. Take them to museums, wildlife national parks, rural areas to expose them to life outside their own. Go camping or trekking to keep them active, to teach them the value and power of resilience, being flexible and teamwork. Consider live theatres to introduce them to pure literature, art and culture.
- Have a craft day
Craft is one of the best ways to add colour to your life. And you are never too old to make paper boats, fishes, aeroplanes. Encourage kids to explore different objects or shapes. Introduce them to the works of different artists and you can even attend workshops with them to learn how to express yourself better.
- Do Chores Together
You can get them to contribute to chores by taking responsibility for their chores first. Inculcate the habit of making their bed, cleaning cupboards, folding the laundry and more. If they don’t show interest in participating then you could try communicating in different ways. For eg. challenge them by saying ‘Let’s see who’s going to complete this task first’, ‘Let’s see who will do it more neatly’ and see if that gets them moving. Also, ask for their suggestions ‘Can you suggest how to fix this’, ‘Which colour would look good on this wall’, ‘How should I arrange these books’, ‘Can you help me to figure this out, etc’. You can teach your child how to be decisive and independent through these activities.