Time: The Last-Minute Gift That Isn’t Trending

If, like me, you’re feeling bit exhausted by the ‘season to be jolly’, thinking about your never-ending list of things to do and disappearing under a pile of Amazon parcels, then may be this is the perfect gift to give and receive – a time voucher.

I decided to give these to my family this year and especially my children because in fact, in this busy world we live in, real ‘quality-time’ has to be scheduled. Kids generally don’t want time specified to talk or to be listened too, this can be too abstract a concept. What they usually want is time for you to share in their favourite hobby or a meal at a favourite restaurant or a trip to the cinema one-to-one. And when you give them this time, this is when they start talking and you can start listening. I have learnt that when time is given in this way the results can be incredible and so much more long-lasting and effective than the latest trending game or toy. Of course, we all know this as parents, but the reality of putting that time into your agenda and prioritising it above all other things can be very tricky.

However, I was recently reminded of the importance of giving time to listen to our loved ones by two things. I had the chance to attend a 4-week ‘Helping Children Deal with Loss’ workshop, and by chance whilst attending the course I came across an audio book from someone who inspired me many years ago.

The ‘Helping Children Deal with Loss’ course was led by Libby Kramer, a certified Grief Recovery Method specialist in Luxembourg. I wanted to do the course because we have had a number of enquiries from parents needing support with this issue. Libby is a wonderful, sensitive and well-informed facilitator and I actually got a lot more out of the course than I had expected. I will be writing more about my experience in the New Year. One of the concepts we spoke about at length was the idea of ‘listening with the heart’. This is when you give time to actually listen to your child or loved one without interrupting or feeling the need to give your side of the story. Listening with the heart does not intellectualise whether a person should or should not feel the way they do, it just accepts that this is how it feels for them, right here and now. There are many benefits of taking the time to do this with your children as I am still learning 3 weeks after the course has ended. I would wholeheartedly recommend the course to any parent or professional who works with children.

Whilst processing and searching for more information online I came across an audio book by Nancy Kline, a trainer/coach I met and worked with over 25 years ago. At the time I was an Executive Director for the Telephone Helplines Association in the UK. Nancy had been brought in to do some training with us around listening to ‘ignite the mind’. She spoke of 10 key components to create what she called ‘The Thinking Environment’ I was really touched by this experience and have over the years incorporated elements of this approach into my training and supervision groups. In her most recent book ‘More Time to Think’ (which she reads herself available on audible.com) she reflects on more than 30 years of experience working in this way with corporate clients, teachers and parents. Her belief is that when we provide the components of ‘The Thinking Environment’ which includes giving our full attention, treating the other person as our equal, allowing for feelings and staying with vulnerability, then people can truly think better for themselves. What better gift to give our children.



And so I asked my kids what it was that they truly wanted from us this Christmas beyond Super Smash Bros and a Mermaid tail… their answer was time. Time to play more games together, time to do more art projects together, time to hang out in 5 Guys burger bar. Sadly not a promise of time to tidy out the cellar… that voucher I’m giving to my husband!