I’ve become quite the couponer, but not the kind who clips from the paper to save 50 cents on a box of tissues. I’ve started giving out iMOM’s Mom Time Coupons. Every time I hand one to my sons, you’d think I’d just given him a $100 bill. On one I wrote, “Take a walk around the block.” Another says, “Go get icees.”
One day my son Graham
Approached me and handed me a Graham
Time Coupon” he’d made. I’d been rewarded with one that said, “Play a board game.” It was clear to me that I needed to invest in more quality time with him. But there’s a certain kind of quality time that’s more powerful than others. It has a specific name that will clue you in on why it’s so good for your relationship with your child.
It’s called wants-nothing quality time.
Most of the things we do with our kids have a goal and are considered “wants-something quality time.” Homework, diapering, meals. Wants-nothing quality time is when we spend time focusing just on our children, with no agenda—we want nothing from them. When my sons loved train sets, they’d always ask me to build the track. After that was done, I was ready to go back to what I was doing. But they always wanted me to sit and watch. It felt like the least productive time of my day, but the opposite is probably true.
Here’s why it’s so powerful.
If you are a productivity addict or just a busy mom, wants-nothing quality time might be difficult for you, but it’s worth it for three big reasons.
Observing our kids gives us insight into their world.
When I sit and watch my son draw, I learn what he’s into: ninjas, dogs, Spiderman. When he knows he has my undivided attention, it changes the mood. We’re relaxed and open and he’ll talk about which art skill he’s struggling with, which he’s trying to master, and what he thinks I should do with his latest masterpiece. When’s the last time you watched your child move or think? With wants-nothing quality time, you can observe what your child can do that she couldn’t a year ago. You’ll notice she’s stronger and more focused, but she still does that cute thing with her tongue when she’s thinking really hard.
It helps our kids grow in confidence.
One of my boys loves grocery shopping with me, and while I am glad we get that time together, it’s still checking an item off my to-do list. When your child, who knows you’ve got a busy life, sees you stop everything just to be with him, he hears “you matter to me” and that helps him grow in self-worth.
When your child, who knows you’ve got a busy life, sees you stop everything just to be with him, he hears “you matter to me” and that helps him grow in self-worth.
It helps our kids become independent.
Wants-nothing quality time is proactively pouring into your child and giving her what she needs before she has to ask or act out. Then, when you need time to yourself, she’ll be more likely to play or work independently because she feels important and loved.
And here’s how to do it.
Wants-nothing quality time is the least complicated parenting tool ever. You literally have to do nothing. Just make sure there are no distractions and don’t close your eyes and try to squeeze in a nap. You can watch your child do something he’s already engaged in or start a new activity and let him lead. Even five to 10 minutes is worthwhile.
Next time your son is playing a video game, ask him, “Can I sit here with you for 10 minutes?” If he asks why, tell him you just want to be with him. Then see where the time takes you.
What’s one way you can work wants-nothing quality time into your day?
ASK YOUR CHILD…
What’s your favorite way to spend quality time together?