Tips for Dads – Dedicated time with the kids

Q: I have been having trouble finding the time to give to my 10 year old son,; I work pretty hard during the week and at weekends we seem to bounce from one activity to the other. But he is the middle child and I feel he needs some dedicated time to have fun with Dad. Any suggestions?

Answer by Tim Mungeam

First of all it’s great you’ve spotted this as an issue, so you’re halfway to getting it sorted out! Secondly you’re not alone. Just about every dad (and mum) that I have ever met finds time management a challenge – it just goes with the territory. Third, you’re right to concentrate on your son at this stage in his life – a ten year old has a lot of change happening for him even now and there’s even more just around the corner!

So here’s my five point plan:

1. Draw up a ‘fun list’ – spend a mealtime talking with him about the type of things he’d like to do with you. It needn’t all be Alton Towers (although this might feature!) – visiting your local greasy spoon together, reading the paper, going for a bus trip somewhere new, or cooking a meal for the rest of the family may well be high on the list. The best things often don’t cost the earth or indeed anything at all. Consider cutting out one of his current activities just to allow time to breathe and hang out together.

2. Book it or you book it out. We’re used to making (and keeping) appointments at work so why not try it at home? This avoids the slippage which often happens (especially at weekends) where we promise to do something ‘over the weekend’ but somehow it never happens. Instead of saying ‘we’ll do it later’, set yourself a time target (a specific time when you’re going to do it) and stick to it. You can even book in ‘down time’ or time to do something spontaneous which will help you make sure you keep the time free.

3. ‘Plan It Thursday’ – put a midweek reminder in your diary to decide what you’re going to do at the weekend.

4. Focus on the time you have with him – have you ever set your alarm at night knowing that you have to get up really early the next day and then just lain there watching the minutes tick by? “Only five hours before I have to get up, only four…, only three..” and so on. We spend so much time worrying about the sleep we need that we don’t get the sleep we need! It can be just same with time spent with our children. So switch the Blackberry, phone and TV off and FOCUS! Half an hour when you only concentrate on your son can be better that three times that amount if your mind is elsewhere.

5. Be ready to flex and don’t beat yourself up. Even the best plans don’t always work out and as your son grows in independence the chances are his social calendar will too! Be ready to be flexible with him and don’t beat yourself up when something really unavoidable does crop up for either one of you.

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