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Dad By The Hour | Journal of a Dad
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Four Ways to Get Quality One-on-One Time With Kids

Several weeks ago, I posted a list of ways we can get involved in our kids’ lives – no matter how busy we are – by including them in some of the tasks we do every day. Now, let’s see if we can take that a step further, again being sensitive to our schedules, by adding quality one-on-one time to the quantity of time we are spending with our kids.

So, how in the world can we do that?

1)      Relax. Don’t think you have to have quality one-on-one time with one or more of your kids every day. Hey, that probably goes against a lot of what you’ve read out there, but as I’ve said before, Journal of a Dad is about what has worked in our family, and I’ve found that with my busy work schedule in the past, if I scheduled quality time with even one of my kids every day and couldn’t follow through, I wound up beating myself up for it and, no matter how much I love my kids, I need to be a realist when it comes to the amount of time I have available and how I prioritize it, for the good of all of us. Notice, however, that this whole post is about scheduling quality time with your kids, already recognizing that you should always have some “quantity” time to spend with them.

2)      Quantify “Quality.” What we’re talking about here is one-on-one time with one kid. Although there are many stipulations you can attach as to what is quality and what is quantity, I’ve found the easiest way to differentiate the two is that quality time is strictly time focused on the kid – no tasks or errands attached. If you’re going out to dinner or a movie or sports event, make sure there’s extra time for talking, and not just the distance to and from the activity in the car. Be creative and keep it light and fun.

3)      Schedule It. There are some that are taken aback when the idea of scheduling time with kids is brought up. My kids actually like it, and by having it on my day planner I keep that time clear of any other tasks or appointments. We actually post a calendar on the fridge with all the family activities planned for the month. Included, of course, is that quality one-on-one time. How? Well, every month each kid knows that on the day of their birthday, they get their “Date with Dad.” In addition, on the other two days per month that end in the same number as their birthday, they get to choose what to have for dinner on one and a cost-free family activity on the other. For instance, my son Casey’s birthday is on the 10th, so his date with dad is on the 10th of each month and his dinner and activity days are on the 20th and 30th. Again, be creative and flexible and find a formula that works for your family.

4)      Be Spontaneous. What? Didn’t you just say to schedule it? Sure, but should you wind up with some extra time on your hands, why not surprise one of your kids and just take them out somewhere to do something they enjoy. While scheduling them in makes them feel important, so does doing things spontaneously. My boys love unplanned adventures!

However you decide to spend that one-on-one quality time, you will find it to be extremely beneficial. Coming up Sunday, we’ll list some of those benefits. Come back to visit then. Have a great weekend!

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Free Family Activity: See Three Great Light Shows

The sun is flaring, the planets are aligning and meteors are streaking across the sky, but there’s no need to check the Mayan calendar or call Bruce Willis and his gang to fly to space to blow up a giant space rock hurtling toward earth that otherwise would doom us all. Instead, it’s just a cool time to check out the night skies, especially with the kids.

First, as you might have heard, the sun has been a bit cranky lately, and over the weekend blew a gasket of sorts and shot a huge blast of solar plasma toward earth. That plasma splatted the earth’s magnetic field like a mega-tomato on a super-mega-snow globe, creating colorful lights in the atmosphere as it collided with oxygen and nitrogen atoms. The lights aren’t uncommon at all. They are known as the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, seen regularly in, well, northern places like Alaska and Canada. The difference is that since the amount of plasma bombarding us this time around is so much more than normal, the splat pattern has reached further south, and people in places like Michigan and Wisconsin and other northern states, as well as countries like the UK are getting a cool light show. If you live in any of those areas see it tonight or tomorrow night before it’s too late.

Second, if you look to the west just after sunset for the next several evenings, you’ll see three planets – Venus, Mars and Saturn, in a tight triangle shape (tightest tonight – August 5) before they start spreading out again in a week’s time. Look for Venus first since it’s the brightest of the three and then you’ll find the other two. No telescope needed. Maybe use binoculars, but keep in mind the planets will disappear over the horizon 60-90 minutes after sunset.

Finally, summer is the best time to see shooting stars, and I don’t mean just airplanes in the night sky that you’re wishing on. The season peaks in the early morning hours of August 12 and 13 with the Perseid meteor showers, during which it’s not uncommon to see more than 50 meteors per hour streaking across the sky. This year the moon will be in a new cycle, setting in the evening, so, barring clouds, the viewing conditions should be optimum. Have your list of wishes ready, but, he said anti-climactically, keep in mind that the meteors really have nothing to do with stars at all, but rather the earth colliding with dust and debris from the orbit of the Swift Tuttle comet, the light produced by the hyper high speed ionization of the particles of dust as they enter the atmosphere. But don’t let that ruin a fun family bonding time on the roof (or wherever you find a prime, dark viewing place).

I hope you get to see one or more of these wonders in the sky. It’s a chance to experience science LIVE! Just be thankful for that magnetic field, know that planets have aligned before and will again, and that NASA doesn’t think the world will end until at least 2013.

Get plenty more information here.

If you happen to shoot any pictures, we’d love to see them and post them here! Send to dad@journalofadad.com.

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