Making quality time for Dad at Christmas
For most of us, Christmas time is family time. For working dads in particular, the holidays are a welcome opportunity to spend a few days with the kids and put aside the stress of the office. So how can help your partner make the most of the Christmas break? The Supernanny website and leading Fathers organisation Fathers Direct have compiled the best ideas for children and dads this Christmas.
Home is a haven
For many dads, home is seen as a place to relax – a concept which may seem foreign to most mums! Nevertheless, it is important to give dad some space to unwind at the beginning of the holidays and take his mind off the office.
Tom says, “Work is a stressful place, and dads do need a break. But kids won’t respect that!” The solution is obvious: find activities that the whole family will enjoy. For men who don’t usually spend time with their children, it can be hard to develop a strong relationship, so the best tip is to make it fun.
Good ideas to encourage quality time for dads over Christmas:
• Give them space together. Leave your partner and children alone for at least a whole day, if not two. Most importantly, don’t make plans for them or give instructions. Dads learn about parenting exactly the same way as Mums do – through experience. Tom says,
“Women don’t have some natural ‘child rearing power’, it really is about the amount of time spent on their own and in charge. Normally, Mum mediates father-child relationships without intending to, so there is not the space for their relationship to develop. Time alone will help dad learn more about his children and will boost his confidence. “
• Encourage dad to think about what he enjoyed as a child. He’ll find that spending time with the kids is a great excuse to re-live his own childhood. Tom says, “When I was young I loved Tom and Jerry and Asterix comics. My son and I recently spent about an hour giggling away as we re-read the stories together.”
• Involve the kids. For many dads, the holidays are a good chance to finish all those jobs they can’t find time for during the working week. If dad has to renovate a room, build a deck or dig up the garden, he can easily involve the children. Tom, says, “Dads can teach children about their world. Within every job there are easy and safe jobs that can be done by a child. Just allocate a lot more time to every task!”
• Cook! Children love to cook, and there are so many lessons to be learned about weighing, measuring, heat and where food comes from. Pizza, scrambled eggs and fairy cakes are great for children – see Recipes for more ideas.
• Create a healthy balance between activities that are part of the child’s world and the father’s. Dad can take the kids to the football, but he should also watch his children’s favourite TV show, play with their toys and meet their friends. The Christmas break is a great opportunity to just ‘hang out’ with the kids and learn about their lives.
• Prioritise ‘one on one’ time. Set aside some time every day for each child: read a book, go for a walk or play football in the park.
• Strive for quantity as well as quality time. You can’t just conjure quality time out of the air. You need quantity time before the guards come down.
Finally, for fathers who have a weak relationship with their children: be patient. Tom says, “Spend lots of time listening to and learning about your child. At the heart of every relationship is the drive to know someone and care for them. If you don’t know someone there is a big element that’s missing.”
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