Now this isn’t about never spending time with your kids, but let’s face it . . . as parents we have careers & jam-packed schedules. Even for a stay-at-home mom or dad (which is the hardest job on the planet) life is super busy with a hundred and one things to do around the house, in the community, and for your child and spouse. In fact life as a parent can get so crazy that we not only lose track of time . . . but we can lose track of days and even months . . . precious time that gets away from us leaving a mom and dad looking at their child wondering where all the time went.
This article is about ways that we as parents can stop the clock, so to speak, and invest QUALITY TIME into the lives of our children. What do I mean by quality time? Basically, I define quality time between a parent and his child as . . . both parties enjoying themselves as they spend time together. Now this seems so simple to anyone who doesn’t have children . . . but to parents we know what it means to love a child beyond words and at the same time want to bang our heads against a wall because they are driving us bonkers.
So how do we create a span of quality time where we forget about everything else in life and just have fun with our child? I have the answer to this sometimes vexing question . . . ready for it . . . intentionality. Yes, I said it . . . and I bet you’re thinking, “Oh gosh, there’s that word again . . . sounds fancy . . . but in reality it’s a bunch of fluff.” And it can be, but what if we put some “meat on this bone”? Maybe then this fancy word can mean more than smooth talk . . . it can become reality.
Here are some steps parents can take to intentionally prepare for quality time with their children:
1. Think at least a week ahead . . .
The first goal is just to locate that day on your calendar where you can dedicate half a day, a full day, or maybe even two full days where you can spend quality time with your child without anything else getting in the way. The goal is to at least look a week ahead to give yourself time to plan and prepare. Go ahead and mark that date and time on your calendar, let your employer know that you will not be available and why, and maybe make close friends and family aware of what’s going on and why you will not be answering your phone that day.
2. Start a list of fun things to do with your child . . .
This is so much fun, but it can’t be rushed. This is why it’s so important to give yourself at least a week to dream about all that can be done to make this quality time with your child magical. This past week I jotted down ideas of not just stuff that my daughter likes to do, but stuff I like to do as well . . . activities I enjoy doing that I would like to share with her. Here’s the truth: quality time with your child can be a mixture of your child’s interests as well as your own . . . because guess what, to your child you are next to God and whatever you like to do they want to experience and like as well. If your a dad and you like baseball, maybe put on your list to play catch or go to a game. Maybe it’s gardening . . . you and your child can plant flowers together in the front yard. If all your doing is stuff that your child loves to do than your “quality time” will be pretty boring . . . find stuff you both enjoy to do and create an environment where you treasure each others interests.
3. Create the day’s schedule by using your finalized list . . .
This is a very powerful piece. To know what the next move is can create momentum like you’ve never seen before with your child. Think about it, your swimming at the pool having a blast, but then you sense the moment of fun winding down . . . so you ask the kids if they want to dry off, to which they happily nod yes. Then, as your drying off you’re building hype for the next activity by going on and on about how awesome it is . . . in the mind of a child this is heaven . . . one amazing thing after another with their mom, their dad, or even better . . . both!
4. Use transition time wisely . . .
Be sure to use that drive to the next event, eating lunch, or setting up that board game to connect with your child by discussing things that matter. Talk about school, her softball team, Summer vacations, what they want to be when they grow up, and the list goes on and on. For parents that go to Grace, one tool that can help you guys during transition is the take-home tools that you receive on Sundays when you pick up your child from our Kids Ministry. These tools are chalked full with discussion ideas and activities.
5. Once steps 1 thru 4 are complete . . .
So you’ve set the date and time, thought through your list, made a schedule for the day, and even planned out all of your transition discussions . . . now what? I can promise you, if you’ve put this much time and effort into planning your day, then it’s going to be EPIC! Now it’s time to talk it up with your kids . . . make them so excited about their special day that they are counting down the seconds. In other words . . . make them as excited as you are . . . part of the fun is both you and your child going nuts over the anticipation.
Why all the fuss . . .
Why is all this planning and taking out time to invest in your child worth it? Its just a day . . . right? Wrong. Here’s the beauty of following through with these steps . . . all the time you set aside in planning and then the amazing quality time you spend with your child will not end when the sun goes down on that day. When you intentionally prepare for quality time with your child I can promise you that those memories will last a lifetime for you both. Many years from now when your little boy is a father himself, he’ll still want to talk about those adventures he got to experience with you . . . but more importantly, he’ll want to do the same for his child . . . and to think you started this magical tradition by simply being intentional.
A way Grace can help . . .
Throughout the year Grace’s Kids Ministry hosts Family Venture events where we challenge parents and kids to come out with us and have fun. We hope that as you’re planning your next magical day that you will include us in your plans . . . check out our dates this Summer:
June 23rd-Family Venture Movie Night at Kenwood High School 6:30 pm (free)
July 17th-Family Venture Water Park Day @ Venture River Eddyville, KY ($14.95 per person)