Have you ever felt alone in a crowded room? I definitely have. Spending time in the same physical place as other people can often involve fun, excitement, or chatting. But if you’ve ever left a party or a crowded room and still felt lonely, you’ll know the feeling that spending time with others doesn’t always fill the need for quality time.
The value of quality time.
Quality time involves giving someone all of your undivided attention. It means focusing on the other person and building a relationship. As fun as some activities and events can be, nothing can replace face-to-face conversations for building relationship and intimacy. It’s known that quality time is a love language. So for people whose primary love language is quality time it’s even more important, but I truly believe that every family needs to focus on this in order to build close relationships.
Here are 6 ways to create quality time with your spouse and kids.
1. Fewer distractions.
This could be turning off the TV, logging off the computer, or turning off notifications. If there is something that takes your attention away from the kids you can make a time in your day or week where online or TV distractions are off limits. Watching shows together can be fun sometimes. But when we’re watching a movie, our attention is on the TV, not the other person.
2. Carving out time as a family.
Sometimes when life gets crazy, we look ahead on our calendar and block off time to spend together as a family. Block off a Saturday and write it down so that nothing else gets scheduled. Other ideas include scheduling a family evening together for board games, crafts, or playtime (depending on your kids ages). Create firm boundaries on your family time and don’t let other things get in the way of spending quality time with your kids. You’ll all be happier and ready for the rest of the week as a result.
3. Eat dinner as a family.
This can be a hard habit to create, but it is definitely worth it. When your family sits down to dinner around the same time every night, it creates a routine which involves so much more than simply eating together. We use dinner time as an opportunity to catch up on each others’ day. My husband and I ask each other about the day, and we involve the kids in the conversations too. It’s an opportunity to share stories and tell each other about the good things that happened that day, as well as the bad things. It creates a safe space to ask for advice or help. I think modeling this behavior can show our kids that we’re paying attention and that they’re welcome to open up to us.
4. Create a safe space for conversation.
For our family, this is one and the same as our family dinner time. For example, the other night we were eating and chatting as a family. There was a lull in the conversation, and after it was quiet for a few seconds, our four year old piped up: “I had a sad day at kindergarten!” She continued to share her little preschool problems and ask for help about what to do tomorrow. Later that evening, my husband and I remarked that the habit of having dinner together and fostering good conversation was already starting to bear fruit!
5. Positive attention.
Kids don’t need our attention all the time. In fact, it’s good for them to learn how to play independently and use their imagination when they’re bored. But kids also crave attention and we can find ways to fill up their need for attention in positive ways. When they’re getting the positive attention they need it sometimes calms them and reduces bad behaviour. If they already feel filled with positive attention, then they don’t need to seek the attention with bad behaviour.
6. Find activities that involve connection.
Be creative about finding activities that foster conversation and relationship. This could be going for a walk and holding hands; planning a picnic lunch and sitting together for the meal; going out to eat somewhere and just enjoying the company. While planning these activities you can be mindful about #1 in this list: fewer distractions. For example, if we go out to have dinner and the restaurant has TVs, then we ask if it’s possible to sit where we can’t see them. We have fewer distractions and therefore more quality time!
Become intentional about creating quality time with your kids and spouse. Use some of these suggestions and work towards creating close, understanding, and caring family relationships.