If you don't emphasize bonding at the outset, you will wish you had spent more time with your child once she is older and doesn't have time for you.
Make it a point to spend time as a family. Although you may find it easier to spend time together when your child is a baby since you will be taking her with you wherever you go, spending time together as a family is harder once your child starts getting older. Within a few years she will start a routine, and then the rush of daily life will take over. Invites to birthday parties, play school, creche, nursery, school, high school… and before you know it, your child will be a teenager ready to step into college.
If you don't emphasize bonding at the outset, you will definitely wish you had spent more time with your child when she is older and when she doesn't have time for you.
Time together as a family will not just happen on its own - you need to make it happen. Just being around is not enough. Your husband, you and your children may be home every evening watching television together, but this does not count as family time if there isn't any interaction between all family members.
Whenever possible, take your child along with you when running household errands. Let your child pick and choose brands of some items like tea, coffee, milk, so he feels involved in the process and doesn't dread a trip to the supermarket with you. Asking your child's opinion does wonders for his confidence and self-esteem, and yet it is surprising how many parents disregard their child's opinion. The more you value your child's opinion, the better it is for his development, and for his relationship with you.
Keep some time aside every day as family time. This means parents need to forget all distractions like telephone calls with friends and just spend time with their children talking or playing with them.
Once a week, keep some time aside for a family activity. Go out for lunch or for ice cream after dinner, or do something fun. You could choose Saturday or Sunday afternoons for going on a family outing. Remember that once you choose a day, you will need to stick to it. Various people will constantly keep trying to encroach on your family time. A friend will invite you over, your mother may want you to run an errand for her, your child may get an invite to a birthday party… and so on. Make sure you let everyone know that unless it is something urgent, you are not available at family time. After all, you wouldn't miss your office to have coffee with a friend, would you? Then why should you miss your family outing? Aren't your children more important than your office?
Similarly, the same rule should apply to your children. Don't send them off anywhere when it is family time. Keep telling them how much you enjoy spending this time with them, and how much it means to you. They too will grow to value the time spent together, and will themselves turn down plans that coincide with family time.
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- The Indiaparenting Team