Because kids have their own agenda, schedules can be a sensitive thing. The word flexible is fundamental when it comes to making minutes count with the kids; but how exactly do we achieve that? Where do we draw the line. We all want to do the right thing as parents, (and grand-parents) but knowing just what that “right thing” is can sometimes be challenging. Here are some ideas you might not have thought about.
1. Be engaged.
Watch for cues or hints from the child that suggests the need for a new form of activity. Get into their world and into their reality. For instance, if the child is frustrated or bored, try a change of scenery. If they want to linger longer with an item of interest, consider using that in an object lesson to teach a skill or virtue.
2. Provide balance.
Should children dictate their own schedules based on desires? Of course not! They need structure to provide a sense of safety and to learn necessary life skills. I’m just suggesting that too much of a forced curriculum (not catered to the child’s interests) can crush their creativity. However, be careful of the opposite, because giving in to a child’s every whim can be very detrimental. Consider that allowing a child to be stimulated by the very same thing every day, day in and day out, without any variation simply because it’s that child’s favorite or comfortable thing to do, may keep the door closed to the exciting world of discovery.
3. Create a reminder of quality time.
Consider painting or polishing a rock your child found or draw a picture together about your fun day at the zoo.
Here’s a story I wrote some time ago to illustrate these concepts.
My Walk with Lily
It was a sunny, Saturday afternoon. The families had gathered together to watch my grandson Bentley at his first ever soccer game. He’s just turning 4, so you can imagine the chaos on the field. Kids were running and kicking the ball in every direction regardless of where their goal was. It was a hilarious, fun and wonderful thing to watch, but I could tell my little granddaughter Lily didn’t feel the same. This five-year-old girl had become quite bored watching her cousin play soccer so she began complaining to her mom, wanting to leave. This was my cue!
Her mom was visibly stressed with caring for a toddler so I asked Lily if she wanted to go for a walk. Her eyes lit up and she nodded yes. This was some wonderfully, unplanned, one-on-one time that we both were excited to be a part of.
- There were so many wonderful things we saw: birds and bugs, and little puppies piling on top of each other.
- I talked to her about the correct handling of a bug, a “roly-poly” to be exact, and we put it down in a safe place so he could return home.
- We gathered sticks of different colors to show the variety in nature and picked yellow flowers for her mom to show love.
- I found something to wrap around her wrist like a bracelet and she ran and played on top of a hill. The time flew by and before long it was time to go back.
Later I used an old clearance item from a craft store and fixed it up with items to remind us of that day. I gave it to Lily when I saw her next. It must’ve been a hit because her cousin Annie came up to me asking if I could please make one for her. That is time well spent.
You may have noticed that I only listed three things. So here is the fourth;
4. Last but not least- Pray a lot!
This world is just too hard as a parent without divine guidance. None of us were given a parenting manual, and no one will be perfect. Yet beautiful miracles happen every day when we pray for our loved ones and for the guidance we need to serve effectively.
I would love to hear your suggestions for making minutes count with our kids. Please leave a comment below.
Happy playing and happy praying,
Sohma Rae Hathaway
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