Parenting: quality vs quantity of time…

How I Spend Time with my Children–Two daughters 10 & 12 years old.

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”-Thich Nhat Hanh

The above quote embodies my philosophy for life but also my attitude towards parenting. Presence is essential. Children just LOVE to spend time with you, quality time. Understanding that parenting today is a juggling act, the QUALITY time we spend with our children is far more important that the QUANTITY. If I only have ten minutes to share with my children I will play a card game (Memory, Go Fish…etc), do some colouring-in with them, put some music on and dance, read a book or play I Spy.

If I have 30 minutes or an hour I would like to take my girls for a bike ride with our dog Max; cook some cupcakes or muffins; do some painting together; or go out for a morning tea/afternoon tea at a local café or make some arts and crafts together. I really love painting with my girls, it’s great to take time out and get creative; and best of all they LOVE IT. They also LOVE it when I get down on the floor and colour in and draw with them. So my advice to fellow-parents is find an activity that your child enjoys and join in…so simple but it brings them so much joy.

If I have larger chunks of time available I love to take my girls on outings to expose them to a wide range of experiences; trips to the zoo, the local swimming pool, indoor play centre, local children’s theatre, circus and local cultural events like the Latin Festival in Fitzroy. I love to salsa dance so I took my girls to the Latin Festival and they loved it! They got to experience face-painting, churros (Spanish donuts) and partake in a salsa lesson. I loved being able to share my passion with them as well as introducing them to another culture. Another favourite activity is taking them to the beach! How they love it! At any time of the year they will happily build sand castles and play in the water for hours. They don’t seem to feel the cold like us and get lost in their own magical world! They particularly love collecting shells in the rock pools which we used to decorate our sandcastles together.

What do I think is vital to input into my children? Passion and a love for life. I think passion is an essential quality and I try to instil this into my girls as often as possible. I do this through sharing a wide variety of activities with them and trying to make things as interesting as possible. Always letting them know the world is their oyster and they can do and be whatever they choose to be as long as they try…

Another vital input is that it is okay to have feelings and to show them. As a counsellor I am all too aware of the power of emotions/feelings and the consequences if you supress them. I am regularly encouraging my children to share how they feel and helping them articulate it when they struggle to put the feeling into words. Reassuring them that it is okay to feel sad, or mad or angry; these are all normal, healthy emotions.

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