“How many seconds this time?” — 4-year-old Akash asked his caretaker after gulping down his second glass of milk in less than 10 seconds. Meanwhile, the caretaker was trying hard to figure a game to make him also eat his afternoon meal. Every day passed like this — the caretaker had to first come up with an amusing distraction for the child to stop longing for his parents after they left for work, and thereafter, she had to come up with a new game every time to make him perform his routine. And by the time the parents returned from work in the evening, the child was either, ironically, too involved in what was introduced to him for distraction from missing his parents or done being awake and active for the day. So, by the end of the day, the parents are left longing for spending quality time with their child.
Most urban parents go through a similar plight. By urban parents, the reference is on working parents in urban settings. They often get so involved in their work commitments, or rather take up too many commitments than they can handle in a day, that they end up having to compromise on their time out at home. And, as a result, to be free from worry, they resort to leaving their child at a day care center. However, they still have a reason to worry, you know. When a child spends extended hours with someone, he/she is bound to develop an attachment for him/her. But he/she will still look forward to interact a certain amount with his/her primary caregivers, that are the parents. When you are left stumbling for time to complete your own chores, how do you expect to satisfy your child, who, by the way, needs all the time you can spare? It is very important for you to be involved not only in your child’s education but also in personally educating him/her on personality development, how to enjoy and yet be productive, and many other traits that cannot be taught in school. Children tend to learn the best of behaviours by observing the people close to them. What better reason should parents need to want to spend more time with their children, and also feel good about it?
A few tips to help you balance your schedule so that you can spend more time with your child…
Share household work with your child: You would have a number of commitments at home, other than having to take care of your child’s needs. While you are at some chore that is comparable to your child’s ability, you may involve him/her in it every now and then. But then, ensure not to force the child into performing the task. If possible, make it seem interesting to him/her and have him/her want to do it with you. For instance, you could have your child water the plants in your garden while you too tend to the plants. In case a task seems to get boring for him/her, hand another responsibility that he/she can handle. Likewise, show your child how to take turns in doing a task to not be bored by it.
Spend weekends taking your child out: Children are usually big fans of venturing out of the house. You can capitalise on that factor and take him/her on trips that will educate him/her on various aspects. Keep changing your destination every time so that he/she does not lose the craving to go out with you. If you run out of time to spend an entire day with your child, although it is preferred you do take a day off work to be with him/her, you may at least take him/her to a neighbouring park or an outdoor locality of his/her choice and find an effective engagement opportunity for him/her there before settling to resume your work while keeping an eye on him/her.
Give your child the feeling of freedom when around you: Parents always want to be their child’s favourite. For you to achieve that there is no better opportunity than to make your child feel free to indulge in anything reasonable around you. Give your child the freedom to choose what he/she wants, but if you suspect the quality of his/her demand, ask him/her to explain how it will be useful for him/her. By not refusing your child’s demand and making him/her think of a rationale for making the choice, you are giving him/her an opportunity to analyse his/her needs thereby helping him/her develop the habit of making justified choices.
Engage in physical activity with your child: What do you know about how much time your child indulges in outdoor physical activity, which is very important for his/her healthy development? Would you not want to grab on to any opportunity that would let you govern his/her physical activity routine? Well, here is your chance. Engage in some physical activity, such as playing a game or going on a walk/jog, regularly with your child to also ensure that you get some of your built up energy pumping. That way, you can even get your child interested to engage in some sport, such as tennis, swimming, etc., on a regular basis.
Visit your child’s school when required: Your child’s school would definitely have periodic parent-teachers meeting, isn’t it? You must make it a point to attend them wholeheartedly. But, to make your child feel good, you could visit him/her in school every now and then, just to meet him/her and his/her friends — but not when you think he/she might feel disturbed. It is left for you to assess as to when all your child would like to see you around in school.
Have get-togethers more frequently than on birthdays: What could be better than making your child feel comfortable with his/her friends while you are around? Birthday parties might seem most ideal, but they cannot limit your chances to have such rendezvous. You could arrange for friendly competitions with lunch/snacks on a free day as an excuse for your child to meet his/her friends at your home.