Skip to main content

Parents often feel guilt over not spending enough time with their children. Life seems so busy with work, taking care of the home and all the things that need to be done when raising a family. With all that busyness there’s often very little time left to spend with the kids, leaving them with that guilt. 

It’s easy to see that if parents don’t spend quality time with their children, their children could come to the conclusion that they’re not important – and this can harm a child’s sense of self-worth.

So, What Can Busy Parents Do?

By making time to spend just 10-15 minutes of one-on-one quality time with each of your children every day (or every other day), parents show their children that they are important – that they matter – and you feel less guilt. Making time for your child demonstrates you care, that you’re interested in how they’re going and that you’re there for them if they need support or just someone who’ll listen.

Try getting together when your children get home from pre-school or school; after you return from work; after dinner or just before bed.

Remember, it’s only 10-15 minutes – every parent can find a few minutes each day.

More Than One Child?

If you have more than one child, you can schedule one-on-one meetings at different times during the day or make it at the same time each day and meet with a different child on consecutive days. Having one-on-one time makes every child in your family feel special.

The Key is Being Fully Present

One-on-one time with your full attention says so much to your child about your priorities. Remember, no phone, no cooking or being distracted, just being 100 per cent present with your child. It’s not about the quantity of time, it’s about the quality of the time you spend together. What child wouldn’t feel loved and valued in that environment? So, why not try it?

Let Your Child Choose the Activity

Ask each of your children to think about how they might like to spend 10-15 minutes one-on-one with you. It could be to simply hang out together and talk, or something more active like going for a walk, kicking a ball, or as simple as playing a video or board game or having a yummy snack together.

Explain to Your Children How Important They Are

Your children might not realise how much you love them and how important they are – especially if you seem busy all the time and have little time for them. This can leave you with guilt – even if it’s later on in life when you are looking back.

Explain clearly to your child in words they’ll understand how important they are and that you’re making time just to be with them.

You might say something such as; “I know it might seem to you that I’m often very busy doing my job or house work and don’t have much time for you, but I want you to know that you are very important to me and I love you with all my heart. So, I want to show you how much I care, and from now on every day (or every second day) I’m going to make time just for you and me to talk, play and just be together and you get to decide what we do. It’s our special time together”.

The Bottom Line

The key is to make uninterrupted special time for your child, doing what they want to do with you and sharing what they want to share with you. Remember, if you can’t manage to find the time every day, then make it every second day – just make it a regular thing that your child can count on.

Now, that might not sound like much, but think about it like this; what if your child looks back on their childhood and can say, “My mum or dad made time for me every day – I was important to them. I got to choose what we did together and they made time for me to talk about my day – the good things and the not so good things. They were always there to celebrate my successes with me and to help me through the hard times. I remember walking, talking and playing games…”

Making a small change to your daily routine to make special time for each of your children can make an enormous difference to family life by creating beautiful memories and nurturing a deep bond with your children that you’ll share for life.




  • Dr Rosina McAlpine is an author, parenting expert and CEO of Win Win Parenting. Win Win Parenting delivers workplace parenting education programs supporting busy working parents in effectively navigating work and family life successfully. Parents learn practical strategies to manage day-to-day parenting challenges such as struggles with screen time, emotional outbursts and keeping calm even in the most volatile situations. Dr Rosina appears regularly in the media and her practical evidence-based parenting programs resource parents, carers and educators across Australia and internationally.