One amazing way to discover inspiration for quality time with kids is through the series of books by Gary Chapman about the Five Love Languages.
Hi, I’m Laura and on my blog Lalymom, I share a series called Love Languages Ideas for the Family to help spread the word about the Love Languages and to help people apply them in real life. Today I am talking about spending quality time with kids.
This series is NOT meant replace the knowledge in the books. Mr. Chapman shares so much useful information in the books, and it really gives you a glimpse into how to fulfill your child. It even helps me figure out what is going wrong when my kids are misbehaving.
Once you have read Love Languages for Children and you know your child’s love languages, it helps to have a go-to list of ideas for how to speak that love language to him or her. This is especially true if that love language is not too familiar to you.
Quality Time with Kids
One of the love languages discussed in the Love Languages Books is Quality Time. Let’s talk about ways you can speak that love language to a child. Some of these might be perfect for you, while others may not be a good fit. Read through and see which ones you can make work!
To help keep this list handy, I’m including a shorthand printable version. The link is right at the bottom of this post!
Regularly scheduled dates | This one seems like a no-brainer when it comes to quality time. That’s what it’s all about. But taking the time and effort to plan and schedule regular quality time will provide an opportunity for your child to look forward to that time as it approaches as well as enjoy it when it is happening.
Morning routine | Can you add just 10 minutes to your morning routine that is dedicated to your child? Maybe you do stretches together to start the day. Maybe you make sure to include him or her in the process of making breakfast. Talk about the day ahead or plan your snacks and meals together. Set a timer if it helps to make sure you are banking those special moments together.
Bedtime routine | Just as you can sneak in some quality time when you wake up, add some in to bedtime. As kids get older it may seem like they want to be more independent and don’t need you for bedtime as much. You could still set aside time between TV, dinner, homework and bed to really focus on talking together. Read a chapter of a book together, wash your faces and brush teeth at the same time or try some yoga.
Take pictures together every day | Think about the last time you and your child took a selfie together. Did you giggle together? Daily selfies are kind of hilarious and addictive. At least to me…and hopefully to you and your child too. When you have a year’s worth of pictures, make a photo book with Shutterfly or with one of these ways to print your Instagram photos. Another love language is Giving Gifts. Think of how special it would be for your Quality Time Loving Kid to receive a Gift that documents your quality time! Priceless!
One second a day video | Another similar way to document your quality time is the One Second a Day App. I first saw this app on a movie called Chef. Basically you film one second of video every day and the app stitches them together into one awesome video time capsule. Again, what a treasure it would be to have a video of your time together! Making it together would be as fun as watching it!
Cardboard tablet | Follow this simple tutorial to make a cardboard tablet, similar to an iPad. Once you make it, take turns being “in” the tablet. You can ask questions about your child’s day and your child can pretend you are Skyping or on YouTube. It’s a pretty silly and fun way to spend your time together! My kids like to pretend I’m in a video game…I get quite the workout. If you have a hard time getting your kids to talk, try an interview or ask them to make a video about their day while you watch on the tablet.
Exercise together | Although your kids may not get this message, working out together is the ULTIMATE quality time to spend together. Think about it…exercising regularly adds years to your life…that’s YEARS more that you can spend together! And you get the bonus of those little snippets of bonding time during those daily workouts. Play tag, learn racquetball, shoot hoops, or if your kids are younger, push them on the swings and see how many swings they can swing while you do a lap around the yard or park.
Cook dinner or bake together | Cooking for a family can feel like a chore to you, but to your child who craves time with you, it’s a special time together. Sometimes it may seem easier to just do it yourself, I know. But if you work together your kids will learn lots of useful life skills in addition to getting that time with you. That hits Acts of Service too, since you are teaching your child a new skill and preparing food.
Get back to childhood basics | Let’s DO it. Let’s get back to childhood basics! Play doctor together. Make a box fort or an epic rocket ship together or see what else you can do with a cardboard box. If you are usually the reserved, serious parent, what a treat it would be to see you get really silly! Embrace something that really shows how happy you are to spend time together. It doesn’t have to be complex. Got a toddler? You can spend quality time with them too, and it can be super easy! Here’s the easiest way to get back to basics and play with a toddler!
More Ideas for Quality Time with Kids
Have a back yard camp out | You don’t have to take weeks off of work or travel far and wide to have a special weekend retreat. Unplug. Set up the tent in your back yard or local camp ground. Look at stars, roast marshmallows, tell stories. Most of all–make memories!
Try children’s theater | Take a look around your nearest town or city for child-centered entertainment. As the saying goes, your child will never remember their best day of television. There is something special about live theater though. I once took my daughter to see a local production of Sleeping Beauty at a children’s theater for her birthday. Even though the tickets were inexpensive she remembers it and talks about it months later.
Rose and thorn | A friend of mine taught me about this daily tradition, and when I Googled to see where it came from, it sounds like a lot of people attribute it to an interview with Michelle Obama. (Please comment to let us know if there is an original source before that.) The idea is to ask each family member what was the rose and thorn of their day. What was the best and worst thing that happened to you today? It only takes a few minutes and would be a great way to ensure you connect with your child every single day.
Play at the playground | Don’t get lost in your phone or chat with the other parents (both of which I do very often) but actually PLAY with the kids. Be the one who organizes the hide and seek game or start a slide style competition. (I just made that up. Take turns going down the slide, making different poses. See who is the most awesome. Repeat.) The point is it’s okay to be silly sometimes in the name of quality time.
Tech time out | We are all so tied to technology these days. Would you consider taking a tech time out as a family if it meant you’d be tending to your child’s emotional needs? It’s hard at first but if you keep at it, I bet you will find it will get easier and easier as you make more memories.
Family movie night – It may seem like exactly the opposite of the Tech Time Out, but planning a special family movie night can make you a stronger family! It is more than just laying around watching TV. You can add some fun printable popcorn boxes, snuggle up on the couch, turn down the lights and watch a special new movie. Maybe you can take turns picking which one? Planning is part of what makes it special, so talk about it ahead of time and maybe snap a picture to remember the fun!
Living room sleepover | If you’re already there from your movie night…why not extend the fun with a living room sleep over?! If your kids like to sneak into your bed, they will LOVE the chance to sleep in the living room with you!
Do chores together | If your kids have regular chores, maybe pick one day a week when you are not rushed and plan to tackle chores (yours AND theirs!) together. They will get to learn new life skills, you get to spend time together, and as you get better at working together, you’ll get through the to-do list faster! More quality time to spend together!
Class or lesson | Have you ever learned something new along with your kids? Maybe take an art lesson, learn to play the guitar, learn to ice skate? Kids get so used to their parents knowing everything and being better at everything. Think of how comforting it would be to see that you don’t know everything and to see how you handle the challenges of learning a new skill. My daughter has a really strong memory of the first time her and my husband tried ice skating together. I don’t think she would have had the confidence to stay out there if she didn’t see my husband “learning” along with her. I love that memory too, and it showed me that I need to be brave and try new thing with the kids too. It’s okay for them to see me struggle.
Have a family dance party | This is generally one of my all time favorite ways to spend time with my whole family, or just one kid. Just let loose! Teach them some of your old moves and see what they can teach you. My favorite thing is to copy what one of my kids does. They giggle so much!
Family game night | It’s Friday night. Movie night is tomorrow so what are we going to do tonight? How about Game Night? You surely have your favorites but you can branch out too. If you want to keep it super simple, try 5 Game Night Games Using Only Paper and Pencil. Or if you’re feeling ambitious and awesome, try one of these Best-ever Backyard Board Games!
Okay we’ve got quality time COVERED! Now, here are two bonus tips for speaking love languages. Teach the love languages to your kids too! That would be a great act of service to teach them how to show love too!
And finally, since you should be trying to speak all the love languages, my BEST love language tip is that no matter which one you are speaking you can double up by adding words of affirmation. If you spend quality time together, add words of affirmation by telling your child how much you enjoyed doing that activity together. Holding hands? Tell your child that you love holding his or her hand.
Get your free Quality Time Printable List here! Let’s hear your Quality Time Ideas in the comments below! For more ways to speak the love languages, head over to Love Languages for Your Family on Lalymom!
Laura is mom to two sweet redheads who fuel all the fun over at Lalymom.com. She shares cool kids crafts, fun activities, free printables and parenting tips too! You can follow her by email, on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.