Parenting Tips from the Professionals: Making Your Family Time Count
After a day in the office, it's the quality of family time that counts. Our parenting experts share their advice on how to make the most of the time you spend with your children.
Nadim Saad is author of "Happy Confident Me" - training children to be more confident; Anita Cleare founded her social enterprise 7 years ago to bring parenting understanding into the workplace; Rachel Vecht is an ex-teacher - her topics evolve after experimenting with them on herself! Her aim is to help parents get the most out of their children. Our thanks for sharing so many practical tips and insights into our children's worlds!
- In a time-limited world, what are your top tips?
As Rachel's family has grown, she tells us that she has "learnt to be stricter with commitments for the children, not accepting every invitation and resisting the temptation to schedule all the free time. Children need down-time, and 1 to 1 time with a parent - even just 15 minutes doing whatever they want to do - not structured, just engaged". It is the quality of interaction that is most important - it can be tiny - children live in the moment - stop and engage with them in a quality way.
- How do you manage the transition from work-mode to home-mode?
Nadim suggests planning ahead, predicting the conflicts and opposition that are likely to occur when you get home, and offer your child limited choices - give "a" or "b" options to keep the child thinking and engaged.
- How do you deal with time-pressured morning routines?
The key for Anita is to "understand the difference between your and your child's agenda - your child cares about getting your attention and playing, not about getting ready on time!" We need to use our strategic brains to offer play after they are ready..."when this, then that". Empower your child - make a list (or use pictures if they can't yet read) of what needs to be done then let your child decide what order they want to do them in, and tick them off as they get done in order to get to the reward of "free time".
- How much is "too much" activity?
It is beneficial for children to have something outside of school that they are really passionate about and great at, but we need to have the confidence as parents to know our family values and help children to develop core characteristics such as emotional intelligence, being caring, confident and self esteem too. Don't cram their time with scheduled activities - children need opportunities to get bored.
- How do you deal with conflicting parenting styles?
Accept your different styles, and work as a team using the differences effectively - show your respect for each other to the children. Agree upon your strengths and weaknesses and divide tasks appropriately. This gives examples of different styles children will encounter in life in teacher/boss relationships for example.
- How do you achieve quality time with each child when they are competing for your attention?
When you first get home, just sit down and absorb whatever they want to say/show you etc., and then move on to 1 to 1 time. Have a family meeting to agree what will happen and when, so they know what to expect. Don't play the 50/50 game - you cannot win and make everything "fair". Fair is each child having their own needs met and not policing allocation of time. Instead, explain to the children about their own "special time" with a parent, and empower the children to come up with solutions, e.g. "there's 1 of me, and 2 of you - what do you suggest?" If you can't create 1 to 1 time, have a dedicated 15 minutes of family time.
- Do children need you around as much when they are teenagers/exam age?
You lose control as they get older and everything is on their terms as teenagers. They still need you to be around and to be available but not obtrusive. Encourage your children to have their friends around - it's a chance to get into their world, plus they tend to be much more polite with their friends around!
- Our generation are juggling work and childcare more than any other - what is your prediction for future generations?
Our teenagers have a great focus on quality of life rather than earning money and are clearer about what they want to do/be - flexible working will hopefully be the norm for their generation. We can help our children prepare for their futures by developing their decision-making skills, taking on responsibility, and resilience.
By Alison Deane, Chair, Cityparents Influencers
Panelist contact details:
Nadim Saad | Website www.bestofparenting.com | Twitter @bestofparent | Facebook @BestofParenting I
Anita Cleare | Website www.anitacleare.co.uk | Twitter @thinking_parent
Rachel Vecht | Website www.educatingmatters.co.uk/ | Twitter @EducatingM | Facebook @Educating-Matters
Released On 7th May 2019