Time well spent
June 15, 2009
by Jenni Sebora

We have heard the statement that when adults are is reaching the end of their earthly lives, they will not proclaim that they wished he would have worked more, rather they wished they would have spent more time with their families.

In fact, sometimes it takes people until they are grandparents to really learn to live in the moment with children and spend time with them.

Not too long ago, a grandfather said to me that he wished he would have played as much with his children when they were younger as he does now with his grandchildren.

He admitted that he loves being a grandfather, and it took him this long to realize how much time he spent working, and not enough time playing.

There are also child experts that say that it is not necessarily about the quantity of time we spend with our children, but rather the quality of time spent.

It seems there certainly is truth to that. We can say we are spending time with our children, but we are not focused on them, but rather on our work or whatever it may be.

When we are with our children, we need to really “be with them.” We need to listen and observe, and give them true attention.

But there is something to quantity as well. For our children, it really is about giving them time. As it has been said by Jesse Jackson, “Your children need your presence more than your presents.

“If I had my child to raise over again, I’d finger paint more, and point the finger less.

“I’d do less correcting and more connecting.

“I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.

“I would care to know less and know to care more.

“I’d take more hikes, and fly more kites,

“I’d stop playing serious and seriously play.

“I’d run through more fields, and gaze at more stars.

“I’d do more hugging, and less tugging.

“I would be firm less often and affirm more.

“I’d build self-esteem first and the house later.

“I’d teach less about love or power, and more about the power of love.”

In an article, “Helping Your Child Grow Through Creative play,” developed by Nancy Kristensen, M.A., it is noted that it is important to set the stage for creative, well-balanced play experiences for our children. We have to remember that play is our children’s work.

Allow our children toys that help develop various skills – blocks, paints, instruments, puzzles, magnifying glasses, boxes, pots, etc.

Rotate toys. Help your child get started with play and encourage solitary play for short periods of time throughout the day.

Kristensen also recommends avoiding forcing your child to take part in an activity or play with a toy. Often children need to watch an activity and warm up to it gradually.

It is also important to encourage our children to play with other children too. And, of course, we should play with our children too. We need to give our children individual one-on-one time and attention.

Can we play with our children all of the time? Of course, we can’t. As parents we have responsibilities to our families to provide a safe home, healthy food to eat, etc. But we need to find time to give them individual attention and our undivided attention. We need to support them in their play and as noted set the stage for them to play creatively.

As Rachel Carson put it, “If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”

We need to always continue to be there for our children in a way that helps them discover the world and be their travel guides along the way.

As we travel along with our children in their journeys, we will never be sorry for that time well spent.