You won’t see this gift making the morning shows as being among the top hot gifts of 2018. It won’t make your child’s wish list, and you definitely won’t have to fight through mall crowds to try to find it.
Even so, it is one of the most meaningful gifts you can give your child this year. It’s the gift of your time.
If we are honest, as parents, we know we need to be giving more of this gift every day. We know in our parenting “knower” that if we were to calculate the time we spend on our phones, it would add up to days — precious days — that we could be spending with our kids.
So this holiday season, consider putting aside your phone and leaning into your family connections. Try leaving your phone in a drawer or in another room. And, if you pick it up to snap a few pictures, return it to it’s hiding place and reconnect to the moment.
This truism from researchers is worth repeating: Too much screen time can chip away at our relationships. And for kids? We’ve learned too much tech can lead to poor grades, anxiety, obesity, and worse — feelings of hopelessness and depression.
Putting the oodles of knowledge we now have into action and transforming the family dynamic is also one of the most priceless gifts you can give yourself this year.
Here are a few ideas to inspire you forward:
- Take time seriously. What if we took quality time with family as seriously as we do other things? What if we booked time with our family and refused to cancel it? It’s likely our dearest relationships would soon reflect the shift. Get intentional by carving out time. Things that are important end up on the calendar so plan time together by booking it on the family calendar. Schedule time to play, make a meal together, do a family project, or hang out and talk.
- Green time over screen time. Sure it’s fun to have family movie marathons over the break but make sure you get your green time in. Because screen time can physically deplete our senses, green time — time spent outdoors — can be a great way to increase quality time with your family and get a hefty dose of Vitamin D.
- Aim for balance. The secret sauce of making any kind of change is balance. If there’s too much attention toward technology this holiday (yours or theirs), try a tech-exchange by trading a half-day of tech use for a half-day hike or bike ride, an hour of video games for an hour of family time. Balance wins every time, especially when quality time is the goal.
- Balance new gadget use. Be it a first smartphone, a new video game, or any other new tech gadget, let your kids have fun but don’t allow them to isolate and pull away from family. Balance screen time with face-to-face time with family and friends to get the most out of the holidays. Better yet: Join them in their world — grab a controller and play a few video games or challenge them to a few Fortnite battles.
- Be okay with the mess. When you are a parent, you know better than most how quickly the days, months, and years can slip by until — poof! — the kids are grown and gone. The next time you want to spend a full Saturday on chores, think about stepping over the mess and getting out of the house for some fun with your kids.
Here’s hoping you and your family have a magical holiday season brimming with quality time, laughter, and beautiful memories — together.