Photo by Andrés Gómez on Unsplash
Photo by Andrés Gómez on Unsplash

Quality Time

Question

My spouse and I both have to work full time.  How can we fit in one-on-one time with each child and still spend time together?

Answer

Both research and experience tell us that one of the best ways you can love your kids is for them to see you loving each other and making your marriage a priority.  This increases their sense of security and stability so the first thing is for you to schedule regular date nights together.

Carve out an hour when you can talk and pray and look at your calendars together.  Make sure this isn’t at the end of the day.  Start your time with prayer and then make a list of why this couple-time is important for you and for the kids. Then schedule at least two date nights a month for the next three months.

Now for the kids.  As you look at your calendars estimate how much one-on-one time you’ve spent with the kids in the last month.  When was it?  What times and activities tended to work best with which child and with your schedules?  Remember, smart parents find out what is already working and do more of it.  Then look at the next two weeks and write in what you think might work.

When it comes to your kids, you need to schedule some “formal” times that go on the calendar but also be aware of the “informal” times that the Holy Spirit will make you aware of.  While quantity time is important grabbing little bits of one-on-one time here and there can also be very effective.  Are there times when you can take one of the kids to school?  Go out after a soccer or basketball practice?  Spending 10 minutes talking and praying with them before they go to bed?  If you have to run an errand asking one of them to join you?

Now talk about what are the most effective ways to interact with each one of your unique children. When are they most likely to open up?  What do they enjoying doing?  What makes them laugh?  Where is God working in their lives?  What makes them feel safe?  Learn to ask good open questions.  An open question is one they can’t answer with a yes or no.

Remember that an imperfect start is much better than a perfect non-start.  You are going to learn as you go.  You won’t “find” time for your kids and each other.  You’ll have to make time.  As their ages and schedules change and your activities change you’ll constantly need to modify and update your plan and “flexibility” will be the key.  You’ll probably make a lot of changes in your schedule but these simple steps will set you up for success and help you turn a major corner in your marriage and family.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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