Are you a weekend parent?

Spend time bonding with your children on weekends and during holidays if you find you only see your kids on weekends. – Reuters photo


By BRIGITTE ROZARIO

Do you find yourself struggling to be a good parent because you only see your child a few hours a day and mostly on weekends? Are you a weekend parent?

Trainer and family life educator Charis Patrick says that weekend parents can still be good parents if they are intentional about how they are going to spend weekends with their kids. Consistency and predictability are the key here.

Charis Patrick … consistency and predictability are the key.

Even if you only see your kids a few minutes or hours on weekdays, you can make it work towards your advantage by building a morning and night routine.

You can have morning hugs and greetings and a healthy breakfast together (if the child is in the afternoon session or time permits in the morning). For the night ritual, Patrick recommends a bedtime story, “rewind the day” or have a heart-to-heart talk. These routines help to build positive and happy memories which form a secure base for the child who seldom sees his parents. It’s times like these that make the child feel special and loved.

Making a meaningful connection

Because there is so little time on weekdays, the weekends become all the more important for parents to have a meaningful connection with their kids.

For the best outcome, Patrick advises:

1) Rest and relax
Take time to chill. Hopefully the weekends will not just be filled with enrichment classes. When the body is rested, both parents and children are happier. You can then do a lot more together.

2) Have fun together
It’s not just about having fun but having fun together as a family. Either cooking a meal together, taking a walk in the park, cycling, going for a swim, jogging or even watching a movie together. Having fun together helps the family bond. When you feel a sense of belonging to the family, you work harder during the week, don’t give up easily and are more motivated to excel in what you do. In the case of children, they tend to become more obedient.

3) Review the week together and plan the week ahead
This is where you hold the child accountable and instil a sense of responsibility by letting him/her know that you care and want to know how he/she is doing during the week. As you review the week you may have teachable moments and as you plan ahead, you help the child know what is expected of him/ her.

4) Getting things done
Some weekends may not be all fun, chill and rest. Sometimes things need to be done. For example, this weekend could be a housework day because the house really needs some major cleaning or this weekend is “focusing on exams” time. This will teach the children about priorities: Doing the right thing at the right time. We work hard together towards a common goal and we will reap the reward and enjoy the fruits or our labour together. There is a time to work and there will be a time to celebrate!

In addition, parents can also put more effort into planning family holidays as an extension of the family bonding time.

“Often we are more relaxed then and we tend to open up and share a lot more with one another. Make sure the family members don’t end up doing their own things while on holiday though!” warns Patrick.

Bickering

If you’re constantly bickering in what little time you spend together, this is a sign that the relationship is strained and you need to spend time and put in effort to repair and restore the relationship.

“With rebellion, don’t push. The harder you push, the reaction force will be greater. Take it easy initially and try to take baby steps to rebuild that strained relationship. If talking does not work, start by writing notes and email as a first step. Then, gradually take one step further to find the right time and opportunity to build a bridge to have that heart-to-heart talk with your child,” advises Patrick.

Discipline

When time is so limited, parents often don’t want to be the “bad guy” by having to waste the precious time disciplining the child. Because of this, some children get away with doing things they normally would be punished for.

Patrick says that discipline should not be sacrificed just because time is precious.

“When the need arises, we still need to exercise our parental authority so the child knows where we stand. Interestingly, it’s when we exercise our parental authority consistently that we gain respect from our kids. They then know what to expect from us,” says Patrick.

Another issue that weekend parents face is monitoring the kids on weekdays and making sure they do their homework and study for exams.

Patrick says this is an excellent opportunity to teach independence. When the children are younger (such as preschoolers), the guardian may need to guide them along.

Once they are in primary school, they should be able to:
– Pack their own bag;
– Create a simple to-do list;
– Finish their homework (let them know what they can do if they really don’t know how to do it and who they can turn to in times of need); and
– Create an after-school timetable (guide them on this so the child is very clear what is expected of him or her).

She advises parents to hold their kids accountable during your weekend review and reward them if they do well.

“The key (to ensuring the rules are maintained) is that you must have simple and clear rules in the first place with the rewards and consequences spelled out before hand. Someone must hold the child accountable and the child must know the line of authority,” says Patrick.

According to her, parents should not then be worried that their child will form a stronger attachment with the babysitter, helper or family member who is the primary caregiver.

“If it is a trusted primary caregiver such as extended family members, this may not be an issue. However, if we take time to be intentional parents even as weekend parents, we can have a very strong and healthy bond with our children,” says Patrick.

Conclusion

Ultimately, weekend parenting is all about intentional parenting and making every last second count.

“The truth is even a full-time stay-at-home mum may not have enough time to enjoy one-to-one time with her kids if she does not prioritise it. There will always be many other competing demands to take away our attention from our kids.

“The key is to know what is of utmost importance to you. When you know what are the rocks in your life (priorities), you will always be able to make time for those things. Everything else can work around your priorities.

“It may mean watching less TV programmes and waking up earlier. If need be, take leave once every three months just to have that one-to-one time with your child and you can be sure, you will make them feel real special because they don’t only hear you say they are important to you but they truly feel important.

“The bottom line is, if there is a will, there is a way!”

Taken from ParenThots, thestar online, www.thestar.com.my.