Parent’s Guide – Spending More Time with Your Children

Photo: cc camknows via Flickr
Photo: cc camknows via Flickr

Are you getting the balance right between work and home? A recent article in Working Mums magazine contained the results of the latest research by online parenting community Quibly. Focussing on children of primary school age, the study indicated that growing numbers of children are lacking opportunities to cultivate essential skills, such as: crossing the road confidently, riding a bike or swimming. In recent times it has become normal if not essential for both parents to work which in turn reduces the amount of free time available to spend with their children. However, all is not lost as there are plenty of solutions available to parents wishing to address these matters and free up some time.

Tame your smart phone

Social media in all its forms has become an integral part of life these days. Smartphones have become synonymous with modern life allowing immediate access to information, but you might be surprised how much time is devoted to them. Research has shown that checking social media sites accounts for at least 30 minutes of our time each day, reviewing sites at least 14 times per day. Over 80 per cent of smartphone owners view their devices during the first 15 minutes of waking up with the majority, 62 per cent, looking immediately. Playing games and texting amounts to at least another 30 minutes spent.

Tip – make a firm decision to limit time spent on your smartphone and devote that time to the children. When you come home from work don’t use your device again until the children have gone to bed, hopefully with a bedtime story.

Grow together

Children rely on parents for virtually all their needs particularly the development of social skills and learning. Doing activities together is a fantastic way for both to grow. It will help you get to know them better so you can assess their strengths and weaknesses. The bond between parent and child will develop significantly reinforcing the family unit thus moving your parenting forward.

Tip – choose activities that are inclusive so all can join in, thus increasing the time you spend with your children.

Holiday planning

Holidays allow quality time for parent and child but the cost of a holiday taken during school time can increase the price by as much as £1,000 for a family. A £60 per child fine for term time holidays only exasperates the situation, with many paying the fine and offsetting the cost against the saving they make. Try to be more flexible when booking holidays using the term time calendar.

Tip – Booking well in advance can save money, take advantage of any offers available. And you don’t always need to travel far: a few days out or weekend breaks can be just as refreshing as a longer trip.

Flexible working

Workers in the UK work the most hours per week in Europe with four million people doing a minimum of 48 hours per week. Extra money is always a boost but if you are always at work the parent-child relationship could suffer.

Flexible and part-time working is on the increase. And of course if you work for yourself, you have more control over how you manage your time.

Tip – Tech tools like dropbox and skype can make working from home a real option. And smart technology use can save you lots of time too: shopping for food online and paying bills by direct debit can save hours every month.

Time is the most precious gift we can give to our children. Careful planning and smart use of technology can help us all make more space for what matters most.

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