9 Ways to Spend Quality Time With Your Kids

Want to improve your relationship with your child while encouraging their social and emotional development? Spending time with them can do these things—and more.

Family spending time together in the living room

Erin Brant / Stocksy

Whether you're a working parent or a stay-at-home one, one thing is certain: Life is busy. Parents often find themselves zooming from one task to another, with little or no break. We are the keepers of schedules, the makers of meals, and the menders of boo-boos. We are also world-class entertainers, homework helpers, teachers aids, and (unofficial) social workers. And let's not forget our most important job: chauffeur. Driving our children from school and work to extracurricular activities is a job, in and of its own right.

Of course, this leaves most with little downtime. There aren't enough hours in the day for the tasks at hand. But the chaos of day-to-day life doesn't just impact us, it also impacts our kids and the quality of the time we get to spend together. Research supports that quality time impacts the parent–child relationship which ultimately affects the social and emotional development of children. So what are different ways to spend quality time with your kids?

Read on for nine different ways to facilitate quality time with your kiddos that help you get to know them better and make them feel appreciated, supported, loved, and understood.

Daily Check-In

As soon as your kids get home from school, you ask how their day was and, nine times out of 10, you'll get the run of the mill "it was good." But was it really? Whether it's over dinner or when you're tucking them in for bed, take time to find out how their day really was. What was the most interesting thing they learned in class? Did they try something new at lunch? Who did they play with at recess? The key to these conversations is making them less of a routine questioning and more of a launching pad for quality time, communicating about things that are important in your child's day-to-day routine.

Special Rituals, Like Bath Time and Bedtime

Let's face it: Life moves more smoothly when routines and rituals in place. They help us—and our children—know what to expect, and what comes next. But instead of using this time to hurry along the moments before bed, for example, use it to create quality time with your kids. Sing to your child during their bath, picking a favorite song or a new tune you both just heard. Make teeth brushing a game. If your child is into space, for example, you can pretend they are destroying asteroids with each and every stroke. And read a story at bedtime. If your child is older, let them read to you. When you take time to share things that a piquing their interest, they feel heard, seen, and appreciated.

Celebrate Achievements and a Job Well Done

Anytime you have the opportunity to celebrate your kids, do it! And no, we aren't just talking about when they get an 'A' or perform exceptionally well at a sporting event. Have they stepped outside their comfort zone to try something new? Did they give their all and put lots of work and thought into a project? Celebrating their successes is a great opportunity for quality time and reinforces positive behaviors.

Let Your Kids Choose

It can be hard to relinquish control to your minions but, believe it or not, their requests for quality time might not be as outlandish as you fear. Ask your child how they want to spend time with you. Do they want to play together, color together, or craft together? Maybe throw a baseball or have a dance party? Giving them the reigns isn't just empowering, it can be a pleasant surprise, i.e. you might learn something about their interests you didn't know before.

Keep It Low Tech

There is literally no escape from technology in your day-to-day life. From school and work to the nightly news and winding down, screens are everywhere. They play a vital role in our lives. However, spending quality time with your little one doesn't have to involve any tech at all. Board games are a great way to bond. Sports are active and engaging, and you can dance or sing too. The important thing is that you play to and pique your child's interests.

Make It a Day Date

Plan some time in your schedule that's free, and take your kiddo out on the town. You can paint pottery, go to the library, or even take a picnic lunch to the playground. Quality time isn't about the amount of time (or money) you spend together, it's about what you do together to create memories.

Family Movie or Game Night

Another fun way to spend quality time with your kids is to introduce them to games and shows you grew up with as a kid. Many games involve strategy and math skills, which help make learning fun. Many old shows and movies still tell timeless tales, and teach valuable lessons too, and both you and your kids will be amazed at how quickly time flies when you're having fun together.

Create and Cook Together

Kids have got to eat, and even the pickiest of eaters will be on board with the opportunity to help plan and/or make their own meals and snacks. Not only does having autonomy over their choices pique their interest in concocting creations, but cooking and creating together is a real-time example of showing your children that their ideas and opinions matter.

Have a Yes Day!

When parents have a 'yes day,' they're essentially agreeing to say yes to every request their kids have... for an entire day. While some parents might be furrowing their brows and rolling their eyes at the thought, saying yes for an entire day won't be the headache you anticipate. In fact, there is research that supports this. Kamala London, Ph.D., a developmental psychology professor previously shared that "research has found—as far as what leads to happiness in people and not just children—that saying 'yes' gives a sense of control in one's environment, and children often don't have a sense of control."

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