In an indexed study done by CEO Magazine to determine cities with the best and worst work-life balance, Kuala Lumpur was ranked number 40 out of 40 cities! We placed last as the lowest-ranked city with work-life balance. As a parent, that sounds pretty grim. All in all, it means less time spent with the children. Unless you’re looking to move your family to Helsinki, Finland (the city with the healthiest work-life balance according to the same study) soon, the hustling continues. But, let’s look at things on a more positive note. While spending quality time with our children is an indisputable fact, how can we also connect with them on a much deeper level?
1. Can you play with me?
It may be difficult for most parents to do much playing during weekdays but consider putting aside some time to play with your child during the weekends.
We know that play is crucial for a child’s development but did you know that by playing with them, you’re sending your child an important message? When you are focused on an activity with him, you are telling him that he is worthy of your time and attention. This is a vital time to connect with him, and it also helps builds his self-esteem.
2. Disconnect…from technology
We bet you’ve heard this a thousand times, but that’s because it is so important. Turn off that TV, turn the volume down in the car and the toughest of them all— put that phone away. By removing these common distractions, you’re both forced to pay attention to each other. Ask your little one how his week went? Or maybe what he thought about the new player in his favourite football team? Well, it can be anything really… but the most important thing is, have a conversation with him, and you’d be surprised to learn what a good conversationist your little one has grown to be. Minimise the distractions and give him your undivided attention— even if it’s for a few minutes.
3. Take Bedtime Seriously
According to psychologist Dr Marie Hartwell-Walker, when children know that bedtime is a time when you give a few minutes of undivided attention, they often save up their most sensitive questions for sharing. In other words, it is the best time to do a bit of emotional ‘stock-take’— How was your day? What was the best thing that happened to you today? Did you have a tough day today? Better still, be honest and tell him about your day too. After a long day at work, a comforting hug from your little one will do you just as much good. We promise!
4. Cuddles + Story time
Children identify with characters in stories. For younger children, read aloud over some time on your lap. Or if he is too big, find a book that he likes. Sit next to him and read a page or two together. Perhaps, you might even consider making-up your own story. Break it up in parts or take turns in deciding what happens next. That way, you can both look forward to the next plot in your story. The point is to have some fun. After all, it is your story together that matters most.
5. Listen. Empathise. Repeat.
Little people with BIG emotions that are not expressed can be disastrous. Ask the parent at the corner of the mall that’s dealing with a tantrum-throwing child. Or wait, perhaps you’re all too familiar with that. It’s ok, it happens to the best of us.
We know, attention and undivided were mentioned a few times in this post. But we’re going to take it a step further. Listen and empathise with your child. As parents, we often feel the need to correct them or have an opinion on many things that they do and say. But sometimes, big or small, all we need is a listening ear. Bite your tongue and let him express himself. This might take a little bit more of your time but trust us, it will be worth it.
While we wish there were more hours in a day, perhaps focusing on the quality of time that we spend with our children is more important than quantity. While it is easy to get distracted with a problem at work or the dishes that are waiting to be washed, let’s be mindful about the time spent with the people that matter most.