Azine Graff, PsyD
When we think of spending time with our children, we probably consider engaging in a scheduled or structured activity. We may even have back-to-back scheduled activities to fill our weekend, which can be exhausting for parent and child alike.
But then we’re missing out on a very different and important need when we over-schedule ourselves: The need for time together with no agenda.
It can be challenging to shift from being busy all the time to slowing down. It is a lot easier, in theory, to put away our phones, to say “no” to another birthday party, to postpone running errands, or to hold off on feeling productive.
As you begin to make room in your schedule for more free time with each other, you are investing in your child and your relationship, and it will pay off now and in the future.
This can look like sitting down to play with your child and allowing them to lead the play. The time you spend with them and follow their lead will help them feel empowered in their lives, give them a chance to feel in control over one aspect of their lives, and make them more likely to willfully follow your requests when they need to.
These moments that you spend playing, joking and laughing with your child also sends them a message--you are showing them that you love them, value them and enjoy their presence.
Know that despite what they may say when they are distressed, they love you, respect you and enjoy being in connection with you. They might just struggle to show it at times, especially if they have no breaks and have a tough time transitioning between the several activities crammed into a day. But small changes can go along way.
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