Together Time - How to enhance your relationship with your children.

Many parents I work with have a hectic schedule of appointments and activities which are fitted in and around work and home duties. These appointments and activities include things such as dental or hair appointments and sporting or cultural activities such a soccer, kindy gym or ballet classes.

Many parents want to give their children the best possible start in life and provide them with more opportunities than they themselves had, believing that these things will lead to more educated, healthy and well-rounded children. I admire their goals, dedication and commitment to getting the child to these classes.

Raising healthy, well-rounded children is so much more than just this.

One critical thing is the importance of ‘Together Time.’

Generally, when we take our children to music, dance or martial arts classes we hand our children across to a teacher or coach, and we, the parents, become spectators. And whilst there is nothing wrong at all with that, it is vitally important that children get time engaged with us.

If you have school aged children or if you are working and the children are in care, then Together Time during the week might be eating dinner together, or reading bed time stories, or helping them with their homework. On the weekend there are so many options:

Going to the beach

Going on a picnic

Going on a bicycle ride around your neighbourhood

Going to the movies

Planting out a vegetable garden,

Spend time in the backyard, mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, and watering it

Painting the paling fence together

Playing card or board games

Going on a bush walk

Go camping for the weekend or

Pitch a tent in the backyard and sleep the night in it

Make a fire in a pit and toast marshmallows on a stick

Playing cricket

Visiting a local play ground

Going to the zoo

Going to a museum

Having a baking day at home

When you join together as a family and all participate in an activity, you are not only having fun together, but are also giving your children some valuable messages – some of these are spoken messages and some unspoken, but all are equally important. The messages might be:

We are a family

You are part of the family

We support and help each other

We encourage each other

We enjoy spending time together.

We can have fun together

We can work together to achieve something or a goal

You are important

I (the parent) like and choose to spend time with you

We might be busy but we make time for family

We regularly spend Together Time

‘Together Time’ might be family time as above, or it may be 1:1 time with one parent and one child. Again, it’s about spending quality time with the child engaged in an activity which they are interested in. It may be spending time with them ‘servicing’ their bicycle and showing them how to check the tyre pressure or how to grease the chain; or if they love cooking it could be showing them how to make a batch of scones; or if they love dinosaurs, it could be taking them to the museum.

Whether it’s Family Together Time or 1:1 Together Time, it is about connecting with the child/ren. No phones, no telly to interrupt you -  just focused time.

Think back to a time when you felt someone was really ‘there’ for you, when they were attentive and present, and how good that felt. Conversely you might recall a time when you were with someone but they weren’t really attentive – it didn’t feel like you were important to them.

We want out children to grow up feeling they matter, and Together Time is one special way of doing that.

Can you make Saturday afternoons Together Time?

How can you give your children and yourself the gift of Together Time this week?

Happy Together Time!