Do you think you spend a little time on your children during the week? If the answer is yes, you are among 34% of Spanish parents, according to the ‘ I Study of Health and Well-being in childhood ‘ of the insurer DKV and the Hospital Sant Joan de Deu in Barcelona.
And if you are a father, as this survey reveals with more than 2,000 parents of children up to the age of 10, you are even more aware of this: fathers (41%) perceive this lack more, compared to mothers (27%).
Specifically, only 40% of those surveyed acknowledge that they carry out activities with their children every day from Monday to Friday, while 26% state that they do it between three and four days; 27%, one or two days; and 7%, not one. The percentage rises to 69% on weekends.
But, even so, and even though in terms of the quality of the time spent, the majority (82%) are satisfied, more can always be done.
The Madrid Primary Education and ESO students who have participated in this course in the ‘Letter to my parents’ program, an initiative of the National Commission for the Rationalization of Spanish Hours (ARHOE), know what prevents them, in this order,
share more time with their parents,
work and schedules; housework; the mobile, television, computer, and tablet; the long commutes between work and home; excess homework and extracurricular activities; the brothers (the little ones, especially); and the need for money.
Parents who took part in the online questionnaire of the same program named work (75%), tiredness and stress (47%), and housework (44%) as the main obstacles to achieving conciliation and being able to dedicate more time to their children. And this has its consequences.
Not being able to spend more time with parents generates feelings such as solitude, sadness, worry, disappointment, laziness, discomfort, boredom, fear, weirdness, apathy, or discomfort.
How to spend more time with your children during the week?
How can we do our part to change it? First of all, says psychologist Sonia Martinez, it is important to let our son know that we would like to spend more time with him. “Sometimes We justify ourselves by saying that he needs to spend more time with us, saying that we have to struggle to clothe him, have that toy, go on holiday but what he wants to hear from us is that we also want to be with him more”, says the director of the Crece Bien centers in Madrid. From there, dedicate time, and if we see that it is insufficient to set goals that we meet. “Now we cannot be together, but in summer, the 15 days of vacation, we will be all day,” says this specialist in emotional intelligence.
And it is that, in summer, Christmas, and Easter, the opportunities multiply, and they should not be missed. But it is not about keeping them entertained at all costs and for feeling guilty about not spending more time with them (or all holidays, as half the parents consider, according to a survey carried out in 2018 by Groupon of 1,500 parents of our country), but to enjoy those small moments that the day to day leaves us or to postpone activities that could be done at other times when they are not with us.
To do this, Martinez plans to dedicate a time of 15-20 minutes each day, in which our children feel special. “Before we go to bed, there will be a time for both of us, because we like to be together.
It will be to be together, and not to talk about why you misbehaved with grandma or to know what you have eaten. They are special times playing what he wants, seeing the sky, telling us nonsense, or listening to what he wants to tell us. Children need to express what is happening to them and feel it.
And just by listening to them, we are already telling them that we understand them and, therefore, they will not have the need to attract attention”, clarifies the expert. What if that daily moment is not possible? If we can’t see them at night or in the morning, “we can leave them a note, a hidden surprise to look for,” he suggests.
DKV’s report gives clues to what else to do. For 62% of Spanish children, playing with their parents is among their favorite activities, along with playing with toys (74%) or with their friends (72%), rather than watching television (58%). But beware! According to another study, things are changing.
Among the conclusions of ‘Family Leisure Habits since the Emergence of New Technologies’, prepared by Ipsos for Oreo, 53% of the children consider that they spend enough time with their parents and 29% prefer to play in front of a screen (mobile, computer or console) to enjoy your free time as a family, with your parents and/or siblings. How about playing video games together?
Worry about seeing what he likes and checks out a game together from time to time, as recommended by Internet Safe for Kids (IS4K), in this article.
The activities that they would like to carry out with their parents also give a good account of the initiative ‘Letter to my parents’. Among those that are possible to do during the week are:
- Practice and watch the sport (soccer, basketball, bike, running, horse riding, fishing).
- Play (board games, crafts, constructions).
- Read stories, paint, and draw.
- Help to study and do homework.
- Take a walk and visit the family.
- Shopping, cooking, and other household chores.
Any more ideas to put into practice daily?
Tell them made-up stories, where they or some member of the family are the protagonists. Play dominoes or chess or other simple memory and strategy games from a young age, such as tic tac toe or any card game. Take a walk together with the pet.
Take time to laugh and smile. How?
With a war ticklish or jokes, for example. Snacking together (a piece of fruit will always be good for you) and always dining together, with no technology nearby (radio is not worth it). And don’t forget a very healthy race in which the last one wins: brush your teeth (let yourself win).
What to do to spend more time with your children during the week?
Sometimes it is difficult to find time for the children, but scratching them from any activity adds up. To the conciliation measures that companies and different governments would have to implement, formulas such as those proposed by fathers and mothers are added consulted in the study of the National Commission for the Rationalization of Spanish Hours, better organize and plan time, give up leisure and personal hobbies;
Hire external help (cleaning, cooking, etc.) and distribute these jobs more equitably; carry out common tasks on weekends, disconnect from television, mobile, tablet, or computer; get up earlier and go to bed later, or decrease extracurricular activities. Of course, they also talk about reducing the workday, giving up promoting professionally, teleworking, changing jobs, or asking for a leave of absence.
And the children also give more concrete solutions. The one that stands out the most and was most repeated in the workshops, they acknowledge from ARHOE, was the request that the parents leave the mobile and pay attention to them when they get home since they feel that they spend
“too much time on the phones and feel displaced and neglected”. In the same way, they consider that they watch too much television and that this time could be used to play with them or talk about how the day has gone or their things. Other of his proposals are:
- Rest more.
- Better organize time (weekends and holidays).
- Not taking work home. Change jobs with fewer hours or closer to home. Change business hours. Work from home.
- Distribute household chores among everyone and do some of them as a game with the children, for example, cooking.
- Have a family member take care of other siblings for a while so that they can spend time alone with their parents.
- Try to eat lunch and dinner together and talk about how your day has gone.
- Set a day, or several a week, to be together. It can also be to set moments throughout the day to share.
- Play a little time with them when they get home from work before they start doing other things.