I never realized the enormous effect my presence had on my son. And how spending quality time with kids changed their behavior until it happened to my son and me.
Every night when my son says his prayers before going to bed, he always thanks God for the day that he had with his mom. It’s the sweetest thing, and it completely melts my heart.
But almost a year ago, he wasn’t thanking God “for the day that he had with his mom” because his mom was always at work. As I think back, he was probably silently thanking God for being able to see his mom.
How I Knew Things Needed to Change
I am a retail store manager and don’t have a typical Monday thru Friday, and I’m a single mom. I’ve had to depend on sitters a great deal to take care of my son while working.
And that’s what I did. I worked nights, weekends, and holidays. My work was 10-12 hour days, and I made my schedule a month in advance, and I canceled hundreds of playdates and birthday parties. I cooked dinner twice a week – on a good week!
Because I worked so much, I found myself trying to compensate for not being home by buying TJ stuff. It would be a new video game or toy every week. He had enough clothes to clothe a small army and more shoes than most women. Thank the Lord that he never acted like a spoiled kid. Thinking back, I guess he never had to throw a fit because he always got what he wanted.
I was overcompensating to the fullest.
About a year ago, I hurt my back at work. I continued to work on modified duty for a while; then, I went completely off work. Taking TJ to school every day and picking him up was something new for both of us.
Suddenly there was time for pancakes in the morning, discussions about what happened in school on the drive home, and home-cooked dinners made by mommy. I am home to do homework with my son instead of check what he did with the sitter. He now has a social calendar and able to do after-school activities.
I could see the benefits of having the time and merely being there. If you see yourself or your family in this story in some way, here are some of the changes I noticed:
Benefits of Quality Time With Kids
His behavior changed
He became a happier, friendlier, and much more well-rounded kid who laughed and played much more than usual. His teachers and some of our family members soon noticed the difference.
He made more friends.
Suddenly my child, who rarely spoke of his friends at school, was invited to playdates and birthday parties galore. He used to sulk when he got an invite because he could scarcely attend. Now he was excited and chatty – it was beautiful to see.
His mental and emotional stability improved.
I used to have a kid that struggled to work through his emotions, and I understood from his teachers that he was slightly immature for his age. He handles most situations much better now, and I’m so proud of his progress.
He rarely gets sick anymore.
His physical health was a strange one for me – I had no idea my absence affected his physical health. But my family therapist confirmed it; physical health is one of the many benefits of spending quality time with kids.
This year, I have realized that because I worked an awful lot, TJ did suffer. He was always a great kid, but we’ve only seen him reach his full potential this year.
Ways to Make Quality Time For Your Kids
- Let your child know you love them every day.
- Create some routine rituals; check out this article for some ideas.
- Reinforce positive behaviors with your appreciation.
- Spend time listening and talking to your child.
- Cook a meal and eat together.
- Play with your kid any time you can.
- Laugh together – it’s great for improving emotional health.
Making a meaningful connection with your children will have lasting impacts on them as they grow into contributing adults in the future. I know that I won’t be able to be off of work forever. Still, I now know how significant my presence is – so every night when TJ thanks God “for the day that he had with his mom,” I smile and silently thank God, too.