Have you ever stopped to reflect on whether you are spending enough quality time with your children? Read on to find out why simple moments together are more important than achieving milestones.
Parents love their children, no doubt about it. But often we get so caught up in doing things that we think is best for them that we tend to overlook, or give less importance to what they might need most. Apart from productive time spent with them and going through the motions of the day, do we make it a point to spend quality time with kids?
A couple of days ago, I made my way down to the dining table where my 5-year-old son studies with me. I had it all planned out – I would give him a spelling test, then we would do sums, then he would practice his piano pieces, followed by dinner, reading then bedtime. Perfect. What a productive evening, I thought to myself, smiling gleefully.
You see, I’m one of those parents who mixes up being productive with spending quality time with kids. I thought it must be good that I’m doing so much with them.
I often tend to put a number to the time we spend and the things we get done. I associate quality time with kids with how much we do that would ‘benefit’ them, or groom them for something.
But as I walked down the stairs that day, my eyes caught sight of my son sitting at the table, painting intently. It amazed me that he was so focused on what he was doing, without me having to scream!
When I sat in front of him, his eyes lit up and he beamed in pride when he saw that I looked pretty impressed with what he was doing. He then proceeded to wax lyrical about how art is not random, it has origins and specific techniques and that the piece he was working on was inspired by cubism. He could even tell me what cubism was all about.
Again, I taught him none of this.
Just as I was about to tell him that he had done great but it was time to put it away and do what we were supposed to do, a video I watched the night before, came to my mind. It was a video about a little girl, who was healthy, beautiful and exuberant. The kind of child with such zest for life that her parents probably woke up every morning wondering what they could have possibly done so right to be blessed with such a bundle of joy.
And then all of a sudden, out of the blue, she was diagnosed with that vile and villainous cancer that took her life all too soon. She fought the good fight but was gone, just like that. That video made me think so much about life and spending quality time with kids.
It dawned on me that maybe what we were supposed to do was not so much of the spelling and the math. Maybe what we were supposed to do was that painting that made my son so happy. Maybe what we were supposed to do were things that we could do together, that would involve us laughing together, talking and making important memories.
Quality time with kids means building memories with them. Memories to last a lifetime, because in all honesty, a lifetime may not be as long as we imagine it to be.
What if one day, in the blink of an eye, heaven forbid, your entire world is shattered and your precious child is taken away from you? Or what if something happens to you and you are gone too soon, or end up not in a state to be able to do all these wonderful things with your children?
These are uncomfortable questions about uncomfortable situations but the cold hard truth is that any of these can happen to any of us, as much as we would like to think that such things will never happen.
And what memories would you want to leave behind if things take an unexpected turn? Would the last memory that you leave behind be that of you screaming at your child to get his addition right? Or would the bulk of the memories you have of your children be them staring at you tearfully while you bellow at them for making that spelling error, again?
Quality time with kids means doing things that are important to them. And that means a whole lot of silly and senseless things, at least that’s how they may seem to you.
It means painting together and guffawing at paint on your faces. It means playing in the rain then huddling under the quilts with tiny hands and feet all over you, nursing a cold and drinking awful tasting herbal remedies. It means singing nursery rhymes at the top of your lungs in full confidence even if you know for a fact you are tone deaf.
It means cycling for miles together, building sandcastles together and hiking a nature trail early on a Saturday morning.
It means exploring nature, blowing dandelions, touching mimosas and picking up interesting leaves. It means caring for an injured animal and catching spiders together. It means going outdoors a lot whether or not you like it.
It means everything but sitting in front of the television or study table all day then proceeding to the mall for dinner.
When you spend quality time with your children, trust me you aren’t wasting time on unimportant things. These are the most important things in life. And when your children are happy that way, the world around them seems like a happier and safer place. You ignite their curiosity about things around them and you pique their interest in understanding their environment.
You teach them important values like persistence, empathy, sensitivity and the list goes on.
So remember mums and dads, life is unpredictable and it goes by sooner than we think. Academic success is important and I’m not in any way advocating that you ignore that. Go ahead and prepare your children for their future but all I’m saying is don’t forget that spending quality time with kids prepares them for their future in many ways that you might not see or understand.
And most importantly, spending quality time with kids means that you make the most of every single day that this life has to offer. It means that if your life comes to a sudden and tragic end, you leave behind a wealth of wonderful memories that made your time together meaningful.
You can’t change destiny or what is to come. You don’t know where life is taking you but what you do know is that today you are awake and alive and you have a day to make the most of with your loved ones. You can’t change the wind but you can change your sails so make sure that you do something every single day that makes life worth the living.
Remember, don’t get so caught up in milestones for true happiness lies not in milestones but in the simple, often nondescript moments that take you from one milestone to another!