“Togetherness Time,” Ensign, Oct. 1983, 59
In the past, spending quality time with my children on a regular basis frequently slipped around my schedule, and often fell off completely. But times of soul-searching reconvinced me that time spent with them was more important than almost anything else.
So I devised “Togetherness Time.” The theory is that each of my little children deserves a half-hour of my undivided (more or less) attention every day, and the older ones need at least an hour each week. What a tiny amount of time that really is, but how vital! Each child needs to know he has a right to that time, that it can be depended upon; that for a precious thirty minutes every day, he is the most important thing on the schedule.
In practice, this is how it works:
On our wall is a huge clock covered with a one-foot cardboard circle. To the clock’s hands are attached large paper hands, so that as the clock ticks off the hours of the day the paper hands sweep around the cardboard circle. On the cardboard circle is colored one pie-shaped section for each child and inscribed, “Jennie’s [or Ben’s, or Ari’s] Togetherness Time.”
Those children too young to read learn instantly what the colored sections mean. The poster board hour hand, glued to the regular hour hand, is extra wide, and reads, “time for.” During the course of the day the hour hand points to each child’s special time with Mom.
Below the clock is a large poster, divided into twenty squares, each square depicting for the nonreaders an activity Mother and child can do together.
When each child’s time arrives, he looks at the chart and decides what activity he wants for that day. (That he decides is very important.)
Sometimes I set a timer to limit the activity when I am pressed by other obligations. At other times, we go for as long as the project interests them, which might be ten minutes or two hours.
Following is a partial list of the Togetherness Time activities on our chart:
*Have a talk together
*Go to the library, park, or store
*Cook or bake something
*Finger paint, draw, color, play with clay, etc.
*Role play or dress up
*Sing songs or tell stories
*Build with tools
*Doll’s birthday party
*Write in my journal. (If they can’t write, they dictate some notable happening of the week and I transcribe; they add a picture.)
Older children, with their own demanding schedules of school and meetings, seem to prefer scheduling a full hour during some evening of the week during which they can pursue a more sophisticated activity with their parents than would interest the little ones. Sometimes a good chat before bed extends into a long session during which doubts, fears, and aspirations surface. Gospel questions are often discussed, and golden “teaching moments” occur. We are careful to let these special times go on as long as the light of learning burns—even if it takes half the night. Lorie N. Davis, Southfield, Michigan