As a single dad who travels nearly 20 days a month for work, quality time with my kids is everything. When I tell people how much I'm on the road away from my kids, and they wonder how I maintain such a strong relationship with them, my answer is always simple: quality time.
I'm certainly no parenting expert, and I'm not the perfect parent. But if you were to ask my two daughters, ages 9 and 12, if they know how much their dad loves them, they would be able to tell you affirmatively.
Here are a few key things I've made a priority over the years to ensure that our time together is special and that our relationships remain deep and well-rooted:
1. We go camping together.
I love camping with my daughters, not only because it's inexpensive but because it creates such incredible moments. I remember nearly every camping trip we've gone on together, and my kids can too, because they've left such an indelible impression upon us all. Nothing replaces the conversations around the fire, looking at the stars together, watching my girls burn marshmallows for their s'mores, and the stories that we tell in the tent while trying to fall asleep.
Sometimes we go for just one night, but that one night of camping creates more lasting memories than five days of just hanging out at home watching Netflix.
2. I turn off the radio in the car.
While I love music, and my girls and I spend plenty of time singing and dancing in the car while I drive, some of the best conversations have come up organically just from having some silence in the car. It allows my daughters to have calm, clear minds and gives them space to be able to talk about whatever's on their mind.
If I'm both dropping them off and picking them up from school on a particular day, I try to make sure that at least one of those trips is music-free and that conversation is encouraged. We have had some awesome talks—and you will too, if you just create the space!
3. We cook healthy meals together.
I'm not an amazing chef by any means, but I have a couple of plant-based dishes that my daughters love. Their mom isn't vegan like I am, which means at my house I have to try extra hard to cook extra delicious plant-based meals that they can get excited about.
I try to involve my kids in the process as much as possible, which has created amazing quality time and bonds. My kids love dad's famous vegan tacos that we nicknamed "Brocko's Tacos" as well as kale bowls. I'll have them chop up veggies or even just stir a dish while it cooks. Then we enjoy the meal together as a family.
4. I give them memories, not "stuff."
Ask yourself what you received for the holidays last year and chances are you don't even remember. But now ask yourself what your last trip was and you could likely give a detailed recap!
For the past several years, I've completely stopped getting my kids gifts in the form of "stuff." Stuff includes anything from clothes to gadgets, toys, games, and electronics. While there's certainly nothing wrong with giving your kids things that they really need, I've found that being a professional memory creator as a parent is far more awesome. Time is the most valuable gift we can give our kids. They'll remember the day you took them hiking, paddle boarding, skiing, sledding, or on a mini vacation or staycation much longer than they'll appreciate any toy.
Implementing even just one or two of these ideas can greatly enhance your quality time with your kids. Just ask the question, "How can I be a professional experience creator with my kids?" You'll find that even with a busy schedule and limited time you can have an exceptional relationship with your kids.