Are You Spending Enough Time with Your Child?

In your hectic world of children’s play dates, school, after school activities, endless screens within infinite entertainment options and your own busy schedule, parents are always asking themselves whether they’re spending enough time with their children. It’s a delicate balance. On the one hand you want to be able to provide them with opportunities as they grow up, but on the other hand you want to spend enough time with them to enjoy the opportunities you’re giving them.

As a therapist and owner of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Westminster, Colorado, I see a lot of clients (both children and adults) who feel some sort of resentment because their own parents didn’t spend enough time with them. It has a real effect on people. Research shows that children whose parents spend less time with them are more likely to have behavioral problems in and out of school, have poorer grades, more likely participate in risky sexual behaviors, and are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. No wonder parents worry about whether they’re spending enough time with their kids.

How Do I Know if I’m Spending Enough Time With My Child?

So how do you know if you’re spending enough time with your child? Well, unfortunately there’s no hard and fast answer out there about how much time you should be spending with your child. There’s no specific number of hours and there’s certainly no handbook that tells you specifically what to do with your children and for how long you’re supposed to do it with them. However, there are a few clues your children give you that let you  know when you’re not spending enough time with them.

Signs You’re Not Spending Enough Time Your Child:

For older children 

Poor grades in school
Behavior Problems
Alcohol/Substance Abuse
Withdrawl/ Distance from  You

For younger children 

Behavioral Problems 

Frequent Potty Accidents
Withdrawl from you
Drastic Change in Mood When You’re Not Around
Overly Clingy or Does Not Accept Your Attempts at Comfort
These are just a few signs your children are giving you that you may not be spending enough time with them. It’s not a complete list, but they are some of the more common ones. There might be other reasons that your child is displaying these behaviors so before jumping to conclusions one way to be sure is to see a family counselor – even just for a checkup. They’ll be able to tell you whether or not these signs are because your child doesn’t feel like you spend enough time with them or whether these are occurring for other reasons. 

Ways To Spend More Time With Your Child

In this busy day and age, it’s hard to find more time in your day. You feel run ragged enough chaufeurring your children to and from all their after school activities, birthday parties, and practices. Then you have to cook, clean and put them to bed. And that’s on top of the work you brought home that have to finish before you go to bed tonight. With so little time for yourself, where can you possibly find more time for other things?
Well, it’s not as hard as you might think. Here are a few tips to help you find more time in that busy schedule of yours and get all your other things done, too. 

1) Don’t Overschedule Your Child. You want to provide as many opportunities for your child to help them grow and develop, but giving them too many may actually be hurting them. Having them overly involved in plays, sports, playgroups, etc. creates stress and anxiety in children. Make sure you’re also giving your child ample down time. This is time that is set aside for them to just do nothing. This downtime is some of the best time for them because it sparks their creativity to create fun on their own instead of having it provided for them. And it’s some of the best time you can spend with your child because it’s just you and them doing whatever the two of you want. 

2) Calendaring, Calendaring, Calendaring. One way to help you spend more time with your children is to create a family calendar with all your families’ activities. This will also help you see whether you’re overscheduling them or not and give you an accurate picture of how much family time you spend together. Here is a list of seven great apps for your Android or iPhone to help you sync all your calendars and coordinate your hectic life. Don’t forget to calendar downtime with your child. And don’t move/reschedule it. Your children are more important than that dinner date with co-workers or that PTA meeting.
3) Do What They Want to Do. Children have fun when they do stuff with you that you like but they have more fun with you when you do stuff with them that they like. Sure, you may not have the energy to keep up with them or you may embarrass yourself trying but that’s what quality time is about. It’ll create a deeper relationship and more memories with your children. And you might even learn a new talent along the way. 

Children Spell Love: T-I-M-E 

I’ve never heard of someone on their deathbed say that they wish they would have spent more time at work. And I’ve never heard a child say they wish their parents hadn’t spent so much time with them. Children know they’re loved by the amount of quality time you spend with them. You may feel compelled to work so that you can provide your children with all the opportunities they want but what children really want is your time. So go ahead and take that job with less pay but better hours, or say no to being on another committee. Your children (and you) will thank you for it.   

4 Responses to Are You Spending Enough Time with Your Child?

  1. Great article. I think in a day and age where both parents AND children are so busy with work/school/outside activities, we often begin to take quality family time for granted. Even though times have changed, the need for children to have quality time with their parents hasn't. I also like Ben's suggestion of scheduling downtime.

  2. Thanks Jessica,

    Sorry for the slow reply. Good point. It's not just parents with the big schedules, it's children, too. How much farther do you have 'til you're done with your LAC?

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