Guest Post: Six Ideas for Effective Time with the Kids

Greetings! I’m in the somewhat unusual position of being a man writing for a middle-grade audience. I love the freedom of being able to be childish when I write while still using a real vocabulary and hopefully making kids think a little as they enjoy a story!
In our post-economic crash world, parents have to work very hard to provide for their families, potentially leaving less time to spend with their children. Today I’d like to share six ideas for making the time we do have with our children more effective:
1. Whatever you’re doing, bring the kids and give them a job as part of it. Even if it’s a trip to the grocery store, or almost any errand, they can have a list of things to find or do. Having shared responsibility builds bonds and teaches them to be self-sufficient.
2. Get involved in their computer and video games. This has the side benefit of letting you screen out the bad ones. Do they love Minecraft? Play it with them. Play an Xbox game with them. You don’t have to do it for long, and they’ll probably annihilate you, but this is OK. They’ll love being better than you at something and you will then be able to talk more intelligently with them about it. I think most parents have given up long ago trying to entirely ban these, so turn it into a positive. Showing interest in their things builds a common base for communication that will pay dividends when they’re older, making it easier to “slide” onto more difficult topics.
3. Volunteer to help with class activities, their team sports, or other activities. You’re missing an opportunity to be part of their activities if you don’t volunteer. All organizations need help and you get the extra advantage of your children seeing you doing service. Plus it makes the activity come more alive to them compared to a “drop-off” activity. And you’re helping the kids whose parents weren’t able to be there.
4. Do schoolwork with them. There is no question a child will do better and learn more if you can find time even infrequently to do their schoolwork with them. This is the very definition of “quality time.” Learning together (you may not remember what they’re learning about!) creates bonds and far from taking away the initiative and learning opportunity, helps them learn more and helps them understand how important schoolwork is because it’s important enough for you to spend time with them on.
5. A hug works better than a fight. Every time. Even if they’re entirely at fault and throwing a tantrum. Hard lesson (for me) to learn, but nearly 100% effective. I know, spare the rod, spoil the child, and this doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be consequences (there should be), but if you start with the hug, you may realize it was all just overblown. Our time with them is so short that wasting it fighting with them usually just isn’t worth it. And what an example if they see a loved one returning love in spite of their anger!
6. Read their books. Take away TV and computer time and replace it with reading assignments. And since you’ve read the book first, you can talk about it deeply afterwards. They will grumble, but weeks later, they won’t remember the TV show or game, but will remember the book, and since you have also read the book, it can be a source of conversation.
In case you didn’t pick up on it, the theme is building common ground, then using that common ground to build a relationship to prepare for those teenage years where they will go biologically and hormonally insane.

Jon Thomason

Author of Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud, a middle-grade fantasy novel
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Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud

Max has anger management issues. But she has a secret, too. She can make things happen. Like magic. She almost killed a loser skate punk and nearly used it on her stuck up older sister. The question is, can she do anything other than blow things up? Can she learn to control it? And is it really possible that an obscure teenage girl is the key to keeping all of humanity safe?

Philip just got his ring back. He got it taken away for messing with his teacher’s mind so he can cheat on a test. Now that he has his ring, he thinks he should be able to use his power to make his life better. A lot better. The problem is that people want him to be responsible. But if you could do magic, wouldn’t you use it to escape work in any way possible?

Aaron wants to be a soldier. He knows there are lots of people who would try to take over, and he’s determined to stop them. The problem is that there’s this new girl. And she might be not be on the right side of things. She’s really talented and pretty, but she might be able to destroy everything he believes in. Whatever the case, he knows he needs to learn to be world class with the magic sword while he figures out what to do.

Brynn never gets out. Her grandfather won’t permit it. Her only access to the outside world are high fashion magazines, so she has an unusual idea what she should wear. She’s dying to get out and travel. And adopt animals. Any kind of animal. Is she a lonely future granny with cats or are her ridiculous clothes actually the next fashion craze? What possible role could she play in the destiny of the world?

Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud is a fast-paced fantasy adventure for all ages (10 and up) and is the first of a planned trilogy. Fans of magic, swordplay, secret agents, and conspiracies set in a modern everyday world will not be able to put the book down. Jon Thomason is a debut author and paints a vivid world of magic right under our noses and delivers rapid-fire action that keeps the pages turning.



“Impressively inventive and enjoyable…vivid storytelling and exceptional characterization…Max’s personality is layered and complex…conveyed flawlessly…keeping readers intrigued and engaged…writing style is smooth, and a subtle sense of humor comes through…narrative tension builds at a good pace and easily flows toward a satisfying and exciting conclusion…parents are likely to both approve of the story and enjoy reading it themselves…talented writer…sure to find an appreciative audience that will eagerly anticipate the next book in the series.” — ForeWord Clarion Review

“Thomason shines in his heroine’s characterization…magical” –blueink Review

Author Jon Thomason

Jon Thomason lives with his family in San Diego, after many years living in the beautiful Seattle area. He has a successful career in high tech where he’s been fortunate enough to participate in many big-name industry releases.

Storytelling permeates everything he does. In the moments when Jon is not helping build the story of the tech world, he can almost always be found working on a project: writing, photography, videography, graphics design, or 3D art.

And he’s always careful to conceal his jinni magic abilities, though perhaps might slip one day and be discovered…

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