Q: With everything it takes to work full-time and run a household, how can I find quality time to spend with my children? It seems like there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done as a mom.
Jim: You can begin by honestly asking yourself a few simple questions. Are you working to provide for basic needs, or does your income mostly go toward paying for "extras" that you could forgo to have more time with your children? Are there any aspects of "maintaining a household" that you can afford to sacrifice?
It's not always possible to plan meaningful interactions between a parent and a child. Those moments can't be cooked up and crammed into a few minutes of "quality time" every day. Many opportunities may catch you off guard and will be gone in the blink of an eye. You can't seize the moment if you're not there to do the seizing. And that means spending lots of "quantity" time together with your kids.
One of the easiest ways to make more time for your children is to turn off the screens. In the average American home, the television is on 49 hours a week. In contrast, the average amount of time that both parents combined spend in meaningful conversation with their children is 39 minutes a week. Instead of watching TV, read to/with them, play board games together, take a walk or just talk while doing chores.
Some parents feel pressure to sign their children up for numerous sports teams, music and dance lessons, social clubs and all kinds of community organizations. Don't fall prey to this mindset. Kids don't need a dozen different weekly activities. They need quality and quantity time with loving, involved and committed parents.
Q: With all the "at-home" time this year, I've really noticed the growing toxicity of so-called "entertainment."
Short of moving to a desert island, I can't completely shield my children from all of it. How can I help my kids make wise media choices?
Adam Holz, Director, Plugged In: Let me share some ideas that many families have found beneficial:
Establish guidelines for your family. Your household doesn't need more rules, but you don't want to leave the concept of making wise choices to mere chance. Establishing a family standard is key.
Rely on credible sources for entertainment review. Ideally, dads and moms should check out potential media choices before their kids actually make them. But very few parents have the time to preview everything of interest. At Focus on the Family's Plugged In, we're committed to offering balanced, trustworthy reviews of what's hot in entertainment.
Model wise choices. Learning to discern is an ongoing challenge for all of us. If you struggle with your own media choices, it's OK to admit that to your kids. But try to avoid teaching a principle and then violating that standard yourself; reestablishing your credibility is tough.
When you can't tune it out, try teaching. Unfortunately, there are occasions when an offensive scene or profane lyric happens so quickly that you don't have a chance to deflect it. Turn the incident into a teachable moment. Point out why the song, show or image in question fails to meet your family standard and reinforce the discernment principles you're following as a family.
Keep open communication lines. Talk often with your kids about entertainment and encourage them to ask questions when they need to. When you have to say "no" to certain entertainment, help them find positive alternatives. Intentionality is the best way to make your home a place where good habits of media discernment are caught as well as taught.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.