My Time, Your Time, Our Time — Time Management for Better Relationships
- May 13, 2017
- Posted by: gordon
- Category: Parenting Tips
This article is about time-starved parents and equally time-starved children who always find themselves challenged while navigating through the very limited time they have together as a family. Some parents complain that the time they have for dinner or breakfast with kids during weekdays is like walking on eggshells – they thread vary carefully so as not to trigger themselves or their child! Some kids, on the other hand, complain that there are already a lot of demands in school, and why are their parents demanding more “performance and interaction” during dinner time. And it is not uncommon, that attempts to have family time end up either with parents shouting so that they will get respect, a child over-reacting or “acting up” in order to get attention, siblings telling on each other to make the other look bad (and himself look good) leading to sibling fights, or a combination of all of them.
How can we avoid these problematic interactions? How can we ensure family time to naturally flow and make sure everyone is happy?
In Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.), we share with parents the concept of the Three Kinds of Time to help answer these questions.
The first kind of time is called Activity Time or Family Time where there are more than 2 individuals and when all family members are relating to each other openly. It is usually task or objective oriented – preparing or enjoying dinner, going on a holiday, eating out, hiking as a family and others.
The key takeaway here is that parents and children can handle all Family Time much better if each of them has their needs for the other two kinds of time are met. This is the answer to the highlighted questions above. This is the key to making Family Time a problem-free time. The other two kinds of time are Alone Time and One-to-One Time.
Alone Time is the time spent by an individual by himself or herself in order to relax or recharge, process feelings and ideas, to plan and to develop himself or herself. For parents, Alone Time is achieved when they engage in activities such as running, exercising in the gym, biking, hiking, attending yoga class, painting, etc. Alone Time can also be spent on passive activities like enjoying a massage, watching a movie, reading or simply spending quiet time and thinking while walking or in the bath or in the park. Children also have need for Alone Time and they satisfy this by spending quiet time in their room, playing video games, surfing the internet, reading or simply doodling or playing alone.
Alone Time allows the person to re-establish control over himself and the environment. It affords the person the pause necessary for his mind and emotion to be ready for the next Activity Time. This is especially important in our environment in Hong Kong which is filled with stimuli, distraction and noise.
It should be noted that need for Alone Time varies greatly between individual parents and individual child. The more introvert types will need more Alone Time while the extrovert types will have less of it. In any case, satisfying the Alone Time needs of each person in the family will help each person function more effectively during the Family Time. Don’t you feel you are more open and fun with your kids and spouse after your yoga, exercise or massage?
The other crucial time is One-to-One Time. During our courses we call it One-to-One Relationship Time because this is the time when the quality of relationships is developed. One-to-One works when either a mother or father spends time with one child at a time. It is time spent by a parent and a child doing something which they enjoy and which will lead to growth an nourishment of their relationship.
Dr. Kyle Pruet, a Clinical Professor of Child Pshychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, explains below the “whys” of spending One-to-One time with your child:
- The small intimacies that are unique to the way you parent a particular child at a particular time of life – theirs and yours – are more likely to appear during one-to-one time; nicknames, the caresses, the loving teasing that make them feel loved by you.
- It is money in the bank when you children trust that you have them in your heart and mind always.
- Time alone with mom is just different from time alone with dad, and those differences reinforce the strengths that come from each other.
- And remember, this one-to-one time need not be task-driven to be useful. Time to “chill” is often better understood by kids, and they are often better at it. You have to be there, phones off for it to work its magic on both of you.
Spouses also need One-to-One Relationship Time. Parents need to carve time for date nights or doing activities together.
As with Alone Time, satisfying each family member’s need for One-to-One Relationship Time will prevent problems from arising during Activity/Family Time and will ensure it to be fun-filled quality time for all.
In the fast paced life we have in Hong Kong and during this digitally-connected age, the smart family needs to spend their time right. They need to recognize and satisfy their needs for each of the Three Kinds of Time.
Peace in Parenting!
About the author: Odette Umali is the Founder and Managing Director of Gordon Parenting. She is a certified P.E.T. instructor and has honed her skills from over 10 years of experience in corporate training. Odette completed a degree in Psychology, earned a Diploma in Adult Education and Training from Hong Kong University and completed her MBA from Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is a mother of two: 17 year-old girl and 13 year-old boy.