Do you spend time with your children? I don’t mean just seeing them for ten minutes at tea time, and then again for a bedtime kiss, but really spend quality time with them? Playing with them, reading with them? Do you do things together as a family? Days out, holidays, walks or playing in the park?
A British Heart Foundation poll has found that today’s parents believe they don’t spend enough time with their kids. Scarily, around 10% said that they have not spent ‘quality time’ with their family in over a year, if at all.
Really? None at all? 365 days (or more) and you haven’t managed to spend at least part of one of those days with your children?
How is that even possible?
I appreciate that we lead busy lives, working long hours and often commuting long distances and trying to keep up with the demands put upon us by employers. However, more than a quarter (27%) of parents surveyed said that they are too busy to spend any time with their children in an average day.
Too busy? To spend time with your own offspring? Why bother having them in the first place?
Don’t get me wrong – I used to work from before 7am until 6pm four days per week when Big was very young. It killed me that I couldn’t spend as much time with him as I wanted and felt he deserved. I worked a distance from home too, so it was often 7pm by the time I got us home, and by then he was ready for bed. So, I do know the pressures and the guilt, I really do.
However, I made sure that a good proportion of my one day off and weekends were spent with him. Just being. We’d play in the house, or maybe go to the park or even just to the supermarket to do the shopping, but I made it an event. We’d talk – a lot (it helped that he was an early and exceptional talker!). I did the bare minimum of housework; I am possibly just lazy, but I truly believed that spending quality time with my son was way more important to his well-being that a spotless house and empty washing basket. Every second I spent focused on him felt like quality time, even if it might not seem anything special to an outsider. And now, with two children and even more juggling to do, despite not working, I relish the evenings and weekends when we can be together. Big and I often go to the cinema or out for a meal together so that we can chat.
I’m not sure I understand what these parents who admit to not spending any time with their kids, are doing instead?
Of course, there are jobs to be done at home; we have to eat, shop, clean and wash. We have family to visit, parties to ferry children to, as well as clubs and classes. But, in amongst all this ‘busyness’ and ‘doing stuff’, do we really not have any time to spend with our children as our sole focus? Not even an hour to play a board game or go for a bike ride? And then, what are our children doing if they’re not spending time with us, their parents? Some may spend every second of ‘free’ time doing football and ballet and gymnastics and drama and swimming and Cubs and Rainbows and any of the myriad of other clubs, groups, and classes available out of school hours now. Others may be holed up in their bedroom, spending hours online talking to strangers on their games console or sharing themselves across social media. Two extremes, but is either a very healthy option?
‘Quality time’ is subjective, of course. Some people questioned for the poll may think that ‘quality time’ is nothing less than a family holiday, whereas others, like me, believe a walk through the woods, taking time to talk about the trees, flowers, and wildlife is quality time spent with our children.
Whatever you believe, we owe it to our children to leave work on time, or perhaps take a day off; to put down our phones and leave social media to carry on without us for a while; to leave the cleaning for a day and to give the children some time off from their extra-curricular activities and just spend some time being together.
How do you spend time with your children? Do you let life get in the way?