In these times –with the pandemic included– we adults are prisoners of the clock, of saturated agendas, of endless meetings, of solving due things here and there, of being connected to our devices “all day long”, of living under a stress that does not let us in peace, sometimes, even on weekends.
Sadly, we are so adapted to these scenarios that we have made them part of our lives, and “we don’t even have time” to question whether that is right or not.
This should not be considered as something normal for the complete family because, without realizing it, with such a full agenda we are interfering with the kids’ proper development.
It is in their childhood when they need our time, our presence, a full and loving accompaniment –that is, without cell phones– and we are NOT giving it to them.
Let’s do a memory exercise.
Try to recall, did you spend part of your day to play with your children yesterday? To do school or household chores together? To chat about their interests, doubts or simply comment on the moment?
Now, how much time did you spend on it? Although that is not the correct question, I asked it that way because we adults tend to quantify everything in invested minutes or hours.
Perhaps your answer was, “half an hour”, “20 minutes”, “40 minutes”, “two hours”, is that correct?
Well, let me tell you that if you managed to put a number on time, it’s because you don’t have –we don’t have, myself included– the full awareness that children don’t just need a few minutes or hours a day from us: the MORE time we dedicate to them, THE BETTER!
Because the more time we spend with them, their cognitive, emotional and social development will be enhanced.
We recommend: Mindfulness for children (and for the whole family).
Psychologist Alberto Soler, co-author of the book Happy Children and Parents. How to enjoy parenting and author of the video blog Píldoras de Psicología has made some reflections regarding the time we spend with our children; they are so blunt that I have no doubt that many parents, like me, will think a lot about it:
And he continues his reflection (here) saying that “they don’t need so many toys or extracurricular activities, what they need in their first years of life is US”.
Quality time: a misleading concept
The more time we spend with our son and daughters, the better. In this sense, the expert considers that the concept of “quality time” is misleading, “It calms our conscience and leads us to a conformist attitude”, he says.
They just want time…
And it’s true, we shouldn’t settle for just giving them, I don’t know, 30 minutes a day, even if it’s of the “super highest quality”, ha. The really important thing is that we are with our children whenever we can, “They don’t want little quality times, they just want TIME WITH US”.
And without a doubt, all the time we can have with them –beware, here it is super important that we seek to accommodate our life schedules prioritizing the well-being of all– it obviously has to be of quality, because it is useless to be close to them like statues, absentminded, without participating in their enjoyment, learning and joy.
Reflect, prioritize, reorganize…
Nobody said that parenting was easy, much less in a world that drags us in its frenzy, that makes us forget that awareness of the actions that are positive, and those that are not, for our children.
A few weeks ago, I realized that my work schedule was not compatible with my son’s needs and I had to define priorities. I had a sea of projects on me that were preventing me from enjoying dinner time or playing with him. I paused and reorganized.
Leave some things out…
I had to leave things out and adjust schedules, and you don’t know how good it has been for me to have the evening, almost complete, for my son –and him, of course–. There are days when it is completely impossible for me to shut the computer down at 6:30 pm, but they are less and we talked about them before.
Just an idea…
Last week, in the evening, when I had finished my work and he had done his homework, we spent about two hours –I tell you, again the concept of time– having great fun in his little wooden house telling stories, playing music, dancing and playing with his plush animals.
His father arrived and joined the party. Night fell and not only was my son the happiest: we were too.
We recommend: We start shaping our happiness when we wake up.
Then I realized that, undoubtfully, the time we spend with our sons and daughters positively influences their well-being. The psychologist Alberto Soler points out that being present in the lives of our children helps them have:
- Fewer behavior problems.
- More self-control.
- Better academic performance.
Material things or time?
There are two resources that we can give our children, adds the expert, which are material things and time. Due to the dynamics in which we are involved, we have privileged the material things.
In fact, many moms and dads make up for their lack of time with them with objects, toys, and other “prizes”.
As a professional mom of a seven-year-old, is not to fill emotional voids with material things.
For me, what is truly important is being part of my son’s life, of his achievements and advances, of his doubts and concerns, of his happiness, which is also ours.
If someone feels guilty for not having time to be with their children as they would like –as I felt a few weeks ago– let this be an opportunity to reflect and change the things that are not satisfying.
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara