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“My little one is all grown up! Where was I while this was happening? Time has flown by faster than the blink of an eye…” Have you ever thought about this while you were stuck at a traffic signal or when a distant relative at a family gathering mentioned how fast your kid has grown up? Do you feel guilty about missing out on bonding time with your child? We’re always complaining that our kids are spending way too much time with gadgets or in front of screens. Do we really need to blame them for this? Maybe a closer look at ourselves would tell us that we might be the ones to blame for this. It’s important for us to understand that lack of quality time with our children is probably what is being replaced by gadgets and screens. Quality time has more to do with a child’s development than just ‘keeping them busy’ for the time being. We sometimes feel that our kids will stay out of our way and not bother us for a while as long as they are attached to their gadgets. Not realizing that we are probably the ones responsible for their addiction. They take to gadgets when they are bored and have no other distraction to occupy their minds. It is up to us to ensure that we keep them busy enough doing fun things so they don’t have time for gadgets anymore. Spending as much quality time as you can in a day with your children can do the trick.

It doesn’t matter if you have just 5 free minutes in a day or the entire day. What matters is what you decide to do with it. Children crave attention all the time and they feel more secure when we dedicate more time to them.

Spending quality time with your kids just implies doing things together on a daily basis. Even if both parents are working, come home exhausted every day after a hard day’s work and have little or no time to spare, if important to at least spend some quality time with your children. Different ways to spend quality time with your child/children:

1).Dining together: Even though you may have come home exhausted after work, you still have to eat. Make sure you spend time at least having one meal a day with your children sitting at the dining table. People usually prefer to sit in front of the TV/laptop or play with their phones while eating, seated individually around the house. Put those gadgets away. Screens are a buzz kill. Spend time having conversations at dinner with your kids. Ask them how their day was, what they did all day, if they needed you to do something for them, any new jokes/riddles they learnt etc. Let your child know that they can freely discuss anything with you.

2).Help them with their homework/projects: While you may not have a whole lot of time to do this after work, or if you think you paid the tuition teacher to get this task done, it helps if you look over the homework that they might have already done before you got home, or even help them complete anything that they were struggling with or left out. This shows them that you care about them and their school work and in turn helps them care enough about it as well. They also feel like they can come to you with problems.

3).Playtime: Get them interesting board games, card games, etc and spend time playing with them. These help them to think and react rather than just stare at screens. Come up with new games, teach them to make new things with their hands (like from waste, etc).

4).Outdoor games/Exercise: Go outdoors with them, even if it’s just to the neighbourhood park in the evening or on weekends. Play outdoor games with them, teach them new skills, challenge them to race with you, go on long walks, etc. This not only is good for their health and well-being but yours as well.

5).Household chores: There’s always a lot of house work to get done. Whether it’s the dishes, the laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. Teach your children to do household chores when they are young. Not only will they grow up to be better independent adults, they will also be of immense help to you around the house. Let them help you with simple things like putting away the dishes after a meal, drying the dishes while you wash, hanging the laundry out to dry, folding clothes, dusting the furniture, etc. Get rid of that maid and teach your children to look after their homes. It’s good exercise and good fun for you all and you end up saving money by not hiring a maid for every single chore.

6).Bedtime stories: Instead of letting your child fall asleep to the sound of the TV or doze off with a gadget in his/her hand, read him/her bedtime stories. Listening to the sound of your voice strengthens the bond and creates a better relationship. Hug them and kiss them goodnight before they go to bed.

7).Take weekend short trips or longer trips on vacations with your kids: Your kids will cherish the quality time they spend with you on holidays doing fun things together, rather than if you let them spend their entire weekend or holidays watching movies or playing video games. They will experience more, learn more and have better memories of their time with you later in life.

As someone once said, “To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.”

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