I tried to make a firetruck — easily my son’s favourite-ever truck — out of Lego yesterday. It was beautifully constructed with a few shiny red bricks, mismatched wheels, and a poor excuse for a windshield before I lost my nerve to finish it. It didn’t matter though; my son squealed with delight and “vroomed” off with his new prize as though it was an absolute masterpiece.
It sucked, a lot, and was a genuinely pathetic excuse for a fire truck — it was a pathetic excuse for a mere stack of Lego bricks, to be honest. For reference, please see figure 1:
My son is 20 months old and is clearly no judge of quality craftsmanship (and he’s too young for Lego, anyway.)
But while we were building the “truck,” he was a great help and learned a lot. He dutifully located and brought the red bricks to me, and searched wildly for wheels, of which he wanted to include no less than 6 sets.
The time we spent playing together was what mattered most, though. I may suck at building Lego — and really, colouring with crayons is more my jam — but I’ll do it. I will also play Barbies with my daughter, or try to avoid being killed by her in Among Us. I will play and spend time with my kids, even if it’s the last thing I want to do — and often, it is — because it matters to them.
Quality time is time well spent
The value of quality time with your kids isn’t often talked about. Sure, you hear a lot of judgement about screen time and other negative activities your child may or may not be involved in, but discussion about the positive things you do for your kids is often overlooked.
Spending quality time with your kids doesn’t mean you have to devote every waking second to them — they’d end up hating you if you did, trust me. Just a few minutes a day here and there can make all the difference.
And what a difference those few minutes can make! Research shows that spending regular quality time with your kids reduces the risks that they’ll have behavioural issues or struggle with drugs and alcohol. Spending time with them will also make them more likely to grow up physically and emotionally healthier, and with a lower risk of obesity.
With encouragement like that, I know I am ready for round 2 of the Masterclass in Lego, especially if it makes my son smile like that again.
How to eke out some quality time
Lego is not for the faint of heart.
Seriously though, quality time can be anything from talking to your kids as they help you cook dinner, playing on the floor with your baby, or reading bedtime stories together every night. As long as it’s together, and there isn’t a great big phone or television screen in front of your faces, that time spent is top-notch.
That’s all our kids want from us (besides the sun and the moon and the stars and every gaming console known to man.) They crave a connection with us, and nurturing that connection helps them connect with other people, too.
I don’t know about you, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make, day after day.
Motherhood is full of sacrifices, after all. We sacrifice our bodies, our lifestyles, our income, and our comfort. Time is just another sacrifice that we make for our kids, and really, what else are you going to do? Play another round of Bubble Witch Saga 2? Or maybe watch endless reruns of Friends (no judgement!)
There will be plenty of time for those things when we’re nurturing our empty nests in a pool of our own lonely tears, dreaming of the days we spent hating our Lego creations.
Time spent with your kids is so much more important and worthwhile than the time you used to spend on yourself, anyway. Yeah, it is, and you know it is. You’re raising humans, you know. They need to learn how to exist in this weird and wonderful world, and hopefully they’ll learn to do that better than you have.
It’s simple. All your babies want is a mom who is present, be it on the floor playing with Lego, or racing them to the top of the playground. It’s so tempting to ignore them and convince yourself that individual play is important too (I mean it is, but not all day long!) So just be present, just for a bit. Grab the big yellow tub of Lego and build a freaking truck.
Or something like a truck, in my case. Either way, I’ll eat my hat if your kids aren’t smiling right along with you as you give it your best shot, Master Builder or not.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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