Few people, though, take the time to consider what it is that children report as making their Christmas truly memorable. Did you know that when teachers ask children after Christmas what they enjoyed most, they typically report simple things as time spent together with their parents playing games, watching a film or going for walks?
Clearly Christmas is a time of year when parents actually have the time and space to be together with their children without the pressures of everyday activities. It is this togetherness that children treasure and remember more than the expensive presents they may have received.
How can I find time to spend with my family?
It is an easy thing to say that you should aim to spend quality time with your children all year round and not save it as a treat for Christmas. However, people’s lives are incredibly busy. There’s always something to be done whether it be household chores or your own social activities, meaning that it can be hard to focus solely on ‘just being’ with your kids.
Quality time is critical in bonding with your child. It is a fact that children do better, both inside and outside school, if they have the opportunity to spend uninterrupted periods with their parents. This doesn’t mean that you will find it easy to allocate this time, and you may raise your eyes and proclaim ‘how am I going to manage that on a daily basis’!
Suggestions for finding that quality time
Here’s some helpful ways where you can find that quality time….even where you least expect it.
- Not everything has to be done right now. Think hard about that mental (or physical) list of things that you have to do. Then decide which items on the list can be done later like when you child is in bed. You might even be able to reduce the time each activity takes if you don’t need to do them 100% perfectly every time. If you can prioritise in this way, great – you’ve just found some quality family time!
- There are certain things that you have to do with your child anyway like going shopping or taking them to and from school every day. Use that time as family time and make the effort to interact with your child. You could sing some songs on the way or take the time to discuss what’s happening in your child’s life. You are with them anyway – make the time count!
- Plan your quality times so that you know, and your child knows, that these are going to take place regularly and you can both look forward to them. Even things as simple as walking the dog together on a weekend morning, taking a shopping trip together or making a trip to the cinema can be something special for a child if it means spending time with you.
- Don’t forget that each of your children needs your individual attention. Trying to find time for more than one child is an additional challenge but vital in demonstrating that each child is as important as the other(s). Whatever the pressure of everyday chores, don’t sacrifice time with one of your children as that will simply demonstrate to them that they are less important than the shopping or another sibling!
Indoor games for children and adults
Now that you have made the effort to find time for each of your children, there is nothing better than spending it playing some family games. Of course, there are many of these to consider, but here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Make a ‘potato’ by using something soft and lightweight (a small plastic ball or a very small stuffed toy). Start the music playing and then the potato is passed around the circle from person to person. When the music stops, whoever has the ‘potato’ pretends that it is very hot and has to throw the potato to the next person. If the person holding the potato doesn’t throw it and holds on to it, they are out. If the thrown potato is dropped then that person is also out.
You all sit in a circle and one person goes into the centre to be the animal. The person who is the animal acts out an action to show what the animal is (hopping like a rabbit for example) but they cannot make a noise. The person keeps going with the action until someone guesses correctly after which that person becomes the animal.
In this game, the floor is a bed of hot lava and the only way to move across it is on paper ‘stones’ that have been put out. There are two paper trails which merge together at points. The participants are split into two teams and each team has to use the trails to transfer some dinosaur eggs (rolled socks) from one end of the room to the other. The two teams have to fight it out where there is only one stone to step on. If a team member steps into the lava they have to start from the beginning again.
This requires two teams. Two people from each team are blindfolded. Once they are, the floor will be littered with soft objects (stuffed toys, pillows) as the obstacle course. The people who are blindfolded have to walk from one end of the room to the other, avoiding all of the obstacles, guided only by their team mates. Anyone touching an obstacle has to return to the start.