Can you spare seven minutes a day to play with your kids?

Two Sydney mums are encouraging parents to take a pledge to play with their kids for seven minutes a day, seven days a week.

Yep, you heard right. Seven minutes a day. That’s a target of less than an hour a week.

Donna Armstrong and Phoebe Adams have started the Our Little Foxes Family Club to help parents have fun with their kids.

“The issue is that when parents are with their kids, more often than not they’re distracted; by technology, by chores, by work and other commitments,” Armstrong tells Mamamia.

She and Adams have done some research, and found that psychologists recommend parents spend “quality time” with kids.

“What we were told is that when parents visit psychologists, they are often fronting with a behavioural problem that they are seeking help with fixing,” Armstrong explains. “In many instances, one of the best remedies for this is the parent consciously spending quality time with their kids. Not vast amounts of time, but small, fully-engaged moments of fun, play and attention.”

Quality time with kids is important. Photo via iStock.

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She says they've had a "fantastic" response from parents who've taken the pledge to spend seven minutes every day playing with their kids.

One parent, Charlie, wrote to them: “After today’s activity, we've promised to try and dance for at least one song every day. My son was so excited when I said we were going to dance, I nearly cried."

That's beautiful. But... seven minutes?

What kind of society have we become that parents need to take a pledge to play with their kids? And doesn't a target of seven minutes seem a bit low?

I don't know how much time I spend playing with my kids in an average day. I've never added it up. There's "I Spy" when the kids are sitting on the toilet, mini-golf with holes we dig ourselves in the backyard, our own version of Scrabble where the kids get to make up words... really, anything they want to do that I don't mind doing. I'd consider it a bad day if I didn't play much with my kids.

Work/life balance. Photo via iStock.

Of course a lot of parents have busy lives. I do too. But there's always time to play.

In my house, we don't spend a lot of time on homework. Once I found out that parents could choose for their kids to "opt out" of doing homework, I did that for my son in Year One. I've read the research, and there are no real benefits to doing homework at that age. Plus, it's boring.

With my job, I do a lot of my work after 9pm, when the kids are in bed. I know that not every job offers this kind of flexibility, but mine does, so I make the most of it.

My kids only do one after-school activity a week, and it's a fun one. Sure, they can't play the violin, but I'm sure they'll manage to get through life anyway.

As for housework, it's not a priority. (Which you would see, if you ever dropped into my house without giving me a lot of warning.)

I play with my kids because I know it's important for their development. Play is never, ever a waste of time. I also play with them because I want them to have happy memories of childhood, and of the time they spent with me. But mostly, I play with them because I like it. I like my kids. I like hanging out with them... for a lot more than seven minutes a day.

To me, what's the point of having kids if you don't play with them? Where's the enjoyment in being a parent?

Do you play with your kids for more than seven minutes a day?

Watch: The times our kids made us cringe.

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