The next goal that I want to add to my list of twenty is to create daily, 20-minute memories with my kids. This was a brilliant concept presented at our Parenting 101 Conference a couple of years ago.
If you’re a parent of a young child let me ask you this: Have you ever purchased the perfect, expensive, hard to find gift for your child… and they ended up being more excited about the box it came in, than the item itself?
Activities and quality time can be similar in concept too. Often we as parents spend so much time, money and effort in planning the perfect activity, outing or adventure and when asked about it later, our children’s first memory about it is something seemingly insignificant.
To a child, love is spelled T-I-M-E. Children crave quality time more than anything. Yet, a phrase I’m hearing more and more from people around me, is “I’m too busy”. I hate to break it to you, but there is no such thing as being “too busy”. If anybody ever tells you that they are “too busy” to meet up or that they were “too busy” to reply to your text message, or anything for that matter, it’s a lie. They aren’t “too busy”, you just aren’t a priority to them.
So now apply that to your children. I tell everyone my children are my priority, but what am I telling MY KIDS?!? If I tell them I’m too busy, if I make cleaning the kitchen a priority over them, if I choose to blog about my New Year's Resolutions instead of playing a game with them, how do you think this will make them feel? This is why my kitchen is still a disaster at 10PM, and my blogs are never published until after most of you have gone to sleep.
But we can’t spend every waking moment catering to our kids either. We ARE in fact busy. We have lots to do. Many of you have jobs that you need to go to, while those of us who stay home have laundry to do and meals to cook, so there are times where our kids NEED to be backburned for a while. As long as this doesn’t become an excuse constantly while we over-schedule our day, we’re doing okay. One way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to schedule in a 20-minute memory with them.
20 minutes is the perfect amount of time. I would wager to say that everyone, without exception, has 20 minutes they can invest in someone else every day. Especially if that “someone else” is your own child! Then, it’s also long enough to be memorable. Anything shorter might go by too quickly and not really sink in. Finally, the amount of possibilities 20 minutes presents in limitless.
As I tuck my kids into bed each night, I always ask them “what was your favourite part of today?” Nine times out of ten, it was the 20-minute memory. Weeks...even months later, Liam will ask, “Remember that time we went to the laundromat and played Go Ape?” I’ll respond by saying “Yes, I do!”. He will continue by saying, “That was fun, I want to do that again!”.
Playing a card game… at a laundromat… while waiting for our socks to dry! That’s all it took.
Having fun with our children creates connection. Connection builds relationships. Relationships are what we need to raise our children. So, start having fun, more of the time. In the end, kids won’t remember that fancy toy or game you bought for them, but they will remember the time you spent with them.
So this year, I want to create as many 20-minute memories as possible with my kids. Perhaps 300 of them! I’m going to do my best to document them, and write the ultimate, definitive blog on how to spend quality time with your children in just 20 minutes! But I’m not going to do that until they are tucked into bed at night, with a content smile on their face. Because I know that those 20 minutes of uninterrupted time with me, are going to change their life.