There is nothing more sacred than having ample time for creative play as a child. From story time to playing dress up, we all have a special memory of these care-free times when we were simply kids being kids. Even better is when playtime can become a family affair. Spending quality time with your child may involve a wide range of activities for each age group. For instance:
- Sharing books.
- Dancing or singing together.
- Sitting by your infant and watching and encouraging as he/she grabs over and over again for a slightly out-of-reach object.
- Watching in delight as your toddler dumps out and fills containers with toys or practices going up and down a stair or two again and again, while you offer your verbal and nonverbal encouragement.
- Enjoying your preschooler involved in pretend play with dolls and stuffed animals or small action figures, during which you are expected to play an active, but non-directive role.
- Playing pretend games, dressing up, or building with blocks or glue and Popsicle sticks.
- Helping your school-agers practice or learn a particular skill such as kicking a soccer ball, making Origami, or rollerblading.
- Going on one-on-one outings; “just the two of us” outings—a simple bike ride or trip to the library or a park, or a visit to a special place.
Quality time can be the two of you sharing ordinary household moments or magical special experiences. The quality time together should be the mutual enjoyment of a shared experience and the focus on each other.
It is important to note that when quality time is scarce and begins to take on more and more significance, there is more chance of the experience crashing from the weight of expectations. (“We only have forty-five minutes so let’s hurry up and make them magical!”) Quality time is about treasuring the time together, not hyper-efficiently condensing relationships into tasks to fit into our busy lives. It involves both scheduling time and seizing moments.
There are so many magazines, books, and Web sites that suggest activities to do with children. But perhaps the best advice is just to take a little more time to observe our children, to talk to our children about what they are thinking and enjoy doing, and reflect on what makes our children special and fun to be with.
Originally published on Bright Horizons