These days, parents have plenty of demands to meet, especially with how the landscape of modern parenting has shifted compared to the past. The juggling of your careers, the extra-curricular activities your children are involved in, after-school tuition lessons and social obligations can be physically and mentally exhausting.
So, after handling all of the above, how do you find pockets of time to spend it with your children?
A recent study based in the US found that mothers in 11 first-world western countries spend at least an hour more taking care of their children in 2012 compared to mothers in 1965. Similarly, fathers are more involved in their children’s activities now compared to an average of 16 minutes in the past.
Given that the modern-day demands of parents are perceived to be far more intense compared to the past, it is interesting to observe that today’s parents are far more invested in the time spent with their children than before.
In Singapore, with the high cost of living, it is common to see both parents at work while children are placed in a childcare centre. As a result of work stress and late hours, many parents often feel guilty that they do not spend enough time with their children. The truth is, any time you get with your children can always be quality family time, if you are consciously mindful of being present in the ‘now’.
How do we make these little pockets of time count in terms of quality?
Drop the technology, engage the senses
Admittedly, most adults (and some children) are hooked to their technological devices. You would hardly see an adult without his head buried in his phone while walking, eating and even talking in a social environment.
However, in being present with your children when you are physically available to do so, drop the technology. No checking of your work emails, that WhatsApp message, catching up on Facebook updates. Be in the moment with your children, be engaged with their activities and ask them questions about their thought processes. Being honest about your immense phone usage to your children can also benefit your relationship with them.
Not only are you communicating your concerns to your children and allowing them to recognise that adults too have worries, you are also seeking their help to remind you to get off your phone while you are with them.
Plan something special with your children at least once a week
Your busy schedules will mean that time is tight on weekdays, especially after picking your children from childcare. The only thought in your head would probably be to get dinner as soon as you can, shower the children and put them to bed so that you can have some alone time to decompress from your busy day.
For some, the weekends are no better as they are packed with tuition classes or extra-curricular activities to ensure that your children are placed in an advantageous position at school. Despite the tight schedules, find some time where you can plan a special day out with your children. It does not need to be anywhere fancy.
Children are very simple creatures. A one-on-one outing with you to an ice-cream parlour would be an amazing time for them, just to get your undivided attention for an hour or so.
Integrate your time together at home doing chores
Children absolutely love to help around the house if they are given the opportunity to do so. While you are busy trying to work in a cleaning schedule so you can keep your house tidy, invite your children to take part in simple chores.
For example, they could write the grocery list for you before everyone heads to the supermarket together. That task alone helps in many aspects – your children are learning to spell and write, they look out for items in the supermarket based on the list, and they are counting the number of items that should be in the basket. Your children are involved in learning in a fun way while spending quality time with you!
Even young children can be involved in small ways at home, such as putting away their toys or taking a brush to sweep the floor with you. As long as you are involved in the task with them, you can turn something mundane into a meaningful bonding activity.
Childcare centres do not replace the warmth of parents
Every parent wishes to send their children to a childcare centre in Singapore that has a warm and loving environment so their children can thrive under the care of the teachers. A lot of effort is taken to look for a suitable childcare centre that matches your expectations. However, even the best quality childcare centre will never be able to replace the love and warmth that children receive from their parents at home.
It is natural to feel guilty for not spending sufficient time with your children but it is also important to remember that there is only a limited number of hours in a day. It is not the quantity that counts, but the quality of time that you can give to them.
The time that you have with them should be spent making memories and building a strong relationship so your children know that you will always be there for them.
Written by Danielle Hee
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