Family outings are fun and good for every member of the family. You go out as a group and create happy memories together. But to get to know your children better, spending quality time with each child is imperative.
Quality Time with Each Child
We know that spending time with the children is part and parcel of a healthy family life. In our busy and modern world where both parents are working, we usually take out the children on weekends. We go on weekend picnics, staycations, and road trips. Or do household chores on Saturdays and go to church on Sundays. After that, everyone joins in the Sunday family lunch.
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We compensate our absence the whole week with family bonding activities. And yes, these are all fun and look good in pictures.
But one thing that we often neglect is spending quality time with each child. This I learned at a rather later time. I just hope and pray that we can still correct it.
Importance of Bonding with Each Child
No two children are the same. Each one is unique. Even twins have different personalities and attitudes. If you have two kids, it is seldom that they have the same likes. So if it is a family outing, it is more likely that one has to compromise what he likes because he has to go with the entire family.
You may be able to make concessions, like this child gets to decide for the next outing. But the experience will never be the same.
Our eldest Shawna is already 10, almost 11, so she’s already a tween. Hormonal changes are taking place. Her temperament and personality are so different from Shane. Shawna is more serious and rather reserved. On the other hand, Shane is sweet, silly, and rather demonstrative.
Then I realized I cannot always lump them together. They are sisters but they are individuals. Most of the time, Shawna’s likes get suppressed in favor of the younger sister. She is expected to “give way” most of the time. That is why, spending time with her alone is really important to get to know her. Her Papa does that when he drives them to classes. But I need to spend more alone time with each of them, like a weekly date.
Stages in Growth Development
Your children are of different ages. The older one will mature more in terms of emotions. The tastes in fashion, food, and idea of entertainment will also change.
Our little girl still wants to play with toys. The older one has shifted interests. When Shawna was younger, she enjoyed her education videos. Now, she is questioning them and commenting on how silly the plots are.
Our conversations are different, too. Sometimes, we talk about fashion, games, jokes, and even apps. But she has more factual information that she wants to discuss.
Meanwhile, Shane will tell you about unicorns and cupcakes, and colors of the rainbow.
If you have any concerns about your child’s development, it is important to know that there is help and support available to you. For instance, Kinspire offers help and support via pediatric therapists to tackle developmental challenges and has some useful online resources too.
Identifying Their Love Language
Sometimes, we think we know our kids. Then one day, we wake up and realize that they have become strangers. Spending time with each child will help you identify their love language. Then express your love for them in the language that they understand.
5 Love Languages
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Receiving gifts
- Quality time
- Physical touch
While we all need the five love languages expressed, you can vary the degrees of expression. This will depend on how your child understands love. Just be careful if your child’s love language is receiving gifts–we don’t want to raise materialistic children.
How to Spend Quality Time with Kids
Here are some mommy tips for you when spending individual time with your child.
Get to know what your child wants.
It’s easier to impose based on our preference and family budget. But is that what your child wants to do? As long as it is not impractical, your date gets to pick your bonding activity.
The same applies to the birthday celebrations of bigger kids. Our eldest Shawna now prefers to travel. We started her birthday travel for her 9th birthday where she had a Baguio Birthday Adventure for Kids. For her 10th, it was Mermaids in Boracay Newcoast Adventure.
Go to where your child wants to go.
As long as it’s safe and it’s within reasonable budget limits, allow your child to choose where he or she wants to go. For example, your child wants to go to Jollibee so that he or she can have access to the play area. But you would rather go to another restaurant because you prefer the food. Since your child is your date, give them the capacity to make decisions.
Or better yet, you give the options and then let them choose. It gives them a feeling of accomplishment that their choice is respected. At the same time, it gives you the leeway to provide the options that you can afford.
You just got to talk WITH your child. Not talk to or talk down. You need to have a conversation. It might not be about life. It could be about KPOP or the recent game app. But it’s their language and we need to listen. We need to learn what they are up to.
So many things can distract us while having some time with our child. If we go to the mall, we can meet friends along the way. We can say hi or talk for a few minutes. Just remember why you are at the mall–you are supposed to spend time with your child. Not to spend 10 minutes chit-chatting in the mall while the child is fidgeting beside you.
Put your phone away.
It’s fine to take photos of you and your child together. It’s also important to keep a record of your memories.
However, the use of gadgets should not take up so much of your time. After capturing the moment together, avoid the urge to post it on social media. What’s worse is, if your attention is divided as you wait for people to like your photos and comment on them.
So aside from our family time together, we really need to spend alone time with each child. It could just be once a week, but let’s make it a point to do so. We will get to know them better. Furthermore, it will prepare us for the challenges that may come with the teenage years.
Our eldest usually spends more time with her Dad who drives her to ballet and other classes. Meanwhile, the breastfed Shane thinks that she owns Mama exclusively. Breastfeeding has many benefits, including a closer relationship with your child.
Now, we have swapped. Daddy spends more time with Shane while Mom tags Achi along more often. I brough Shawna to Cebu for the awarding of the Globe Media Excellence Awards 2019. My online advocacy, Normalize Breastfeeding in Bacolod, was a finalist.
Shane wasn’t too happy with being left behind. But I knew that I needed to do this for Shawna. Additionally, Shane and I also had a trip to Cebu last year where we stayed at Radisson Blu for Nestogrow. Fair enough.
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