Being stuck at home until the COVID-19 pandemic is over isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Look at it as a chance to spend valuable time with your kids.
It’s all too easy as parents to overlook the importance of investing enough quality time with our kids, but we are very influential figures in our children’s lives – particularly so when they are young.
Let’s face it – we are busy and on the move constantly, yet we all know family should come first.
I know it is hard to make that happen sometimes, but given the situation right now, time is actually on our side for once. So, let’s make the most of a very rare opportunity!
Here are a few ways I suggest.
The first step you should take is to try and limit your kids’ screen time as much as possible. Based on the studies I’ve read about the effect on developing brains in young children, this is quite alarming.
Giving your kids a lot of screen time can potentially impact them massively in negative ways. I think it is better to be safe than sorry. Balance is key.
Here is an article that can better articulate what my concerns are pertaining to screen time.
Johnny and I do a maximum of 45 minutes a day with Amaia, which includes the television and the handphone. Amaia is starting to figure out that it is fun to watch the TV and a couple of videos on my phone.
Even though I barely give her my phone (and when I do, it’s usually to FaceTime family or watch videos in my gallery of her and family), she already knows how to access YouTube and watch a couple of CoComelon cartoons – and I have never shown her how to do that. It is wild how motivated they are to get what they want from the devices they are using.
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I understand why parents want to put their kids in front of an iPad, but ask yourself, ‘What do you contribute to your child when you leave them watching something for hours?’ It’s never as beneficial as compared to you spending actual time with them.
Part of the reason why Amaia is pretty aware of what is happening around her is down to the fact that we do not give her much time on devices, so she is sort of forced to be involved in everything that goes on in the house.
There are even some days when Amaia does not get any screen time.
The best way to do so is to lead by example. If you are just seated at home watching TV or playing on your phone all the time, then your kids will be following your footsteps. As a parent, it is important to sacrifice.
Right now, a lot of us have the time to do that (granted that you’re not a frontline worker), but sacrificing some screen time is worth it. Your kids are the most important thing, and for me, I want to be there for Amaia as much as I can.
This is also a great time to educate your kids. At least from my perspective, it is essential. It is easy to underestimate how much a child can learn, but I have been blown away by Amaia’s progress.
At 18 months old, she could already count from 1 to 10.
I worked a lot with her on it, and during Christmas, she just walked down the stairs and counted to 10 without any prompting. That amazed me. I’m proud of her because she can speak very well well, too, and she isn’t even two years old yet.
Another fun thing to do at home is reading with your kids. We heavily invested in books before she was born. During her baby shower, I requested for people to bring books (instead of a card) with a personal note to Amaia. That way, as she grows up, she will know where those books came from and appreciate it more.
Since we moved to Singapore, Johnny has also done weekly outings with her, where they will go to the bookstore and she gets to pick a book.
Unfortunately, that is on hold for now, but reading is an effective way to bond with your kids. Even if they are young, it might be more of pointing out the things in the book and learning what birds are, for example, as opposed to them really following the storyline. Amaia is really interested in her books and enjoys spotting things in her books more than anything!
Arts and crafts projects are fun, too.
Recently, we did a couple of hand painting projects. I purchased a pot to replant some of my orchids, we painted it white, and I let her put her handprints on the pot. When her little brother arrives, his handprints will be on there, too.
Besides that, we have also made a couple of macaroni necklaces and wristlets. It’s basically uncooked macaroni on a string. You can even paint them before you turn them into necklaces.
Among the other artsy things that we have done is making moon sand. It is a bit on the messy side, but a great patio activity. Just be prepared to put the kids in the shower for a quick rinse if they’re anything like Amaia!
It’s safe if ingested and there are no chemicals that parents should be worried about. Amaia loves playing with it, and she normally makes tiny sandcastles from it.
We also have a chalkboard at home and coloring books, and she loves drawing and coloring. Art is a great platform to let your kids’ creative mind flow.
We’ve also been baking to keep ourselves busy.
I’ve pretty much always implemented a low-sugar diet for her, though, so even when we bake a cupcake, for example, I give it to her without the frosting. Whenever I give her something sugary, I do notice a difference in her attitude and attention span, and it’s not good!
If you have space, gardening is another fun activity. You can order some seeds online from Amazon, buy a pot, and plant something during this lockdown.
I encourage people to search their houses and see what sort of ideas they can come up with. I bet there are a few DIY projects you could get done during the lockdown.
If you’ve struggled in the past to find time to be involved, now is the time – whether it is one of the things I have mentioned above, or just singing a song to your kids before you tuck them into bed, or having a simple meal together.
More importantly, maybe you can take more time to think about what ways you can stay more involved once life picks up the pace again. Over time, these small things add up, and these will be memories your kid will cherish one day when you are gone.
This is the best time to see how we can be better parents.
Being a parent is one of the most important jobs a person will ever have. If you have kids, take this situation as a blessing and put it to good use. Sometimes, it’s more about the family than you. Your kids will remember how important you made them feel while growing up.
I don’t want my kids to say stuff like, “You were not there for me,” or, “You were too busy at work to make me feel important.”
That’s not the kind of legacy I want to leave for my family, and although none of us are perfect parents, we must remember to devote time to being the best parents we can be.
Remember what’s most important at the end of the day – family.