No matter how many things we download or purchase that are meant to make our lives easier, it seems most of us still never feel we have enough time. If you throw kids in to the mix, then things can start to get pretty stressful. Every parent worries they’re failing their children somewhere along the line (which is usually a good sign that you’re not, by the way) but when you start panicking you’re not spending enough time with them, you can get quite downbeat about it all.
Dr Anthony P Witham once said that “children spell love T-I-M-E” and it is so true. It doesn’t matter if you have five minutes spare, or can dedicate a whole hour to your child, the point is they just want to be spend quality moments with you.
So, if your week looks a little like this: Monday morning – blur – Sunday night; then here are our top three tips for ensuring you grab as much quality family time as you can.
#1 – Don’t just eat together
Sitting at a table (or eating off your lap) for dinner is a great way to ensure you have 20 minutes of time together (assuming you turn the TV off, of course). However, if you want to extend that a little bit why not encourage family members to help with preparing dinner?
No matter how young a child is they can help in some way, and older children may be able to wash, peel, slice and stir ingredients. Yes, it can feel like the cooking would be quicker if you did it alone, but then you’d miss out on the chance to chat whilst you get dinner sorted.
Equally, why not try to get everyone involved in the clearing up? You could have races to see if you can beat your personal bests. No one wants to do it, so why not try to make it a little more fun and less like a chore?
#2 – Turn off your phone
It is so tempting to fill those little silences, or pauses between tasks with a quick bit of scrolling. Whilst there is nothing wrong with that, the reality is it probably takes up more of your time than you initially think. That’s time you could be spending asking how your child’s day has been, or catching up with your other half.
Why not have a rule where you turn your phone off the second you walk through the door, and it can’t go back on again until the children are all in bed? If that sounds like nothing short of torture, then you could set a phone embargo for an hour, or maybe two to encourage family members to actually interact with each other.
#3 – One on One
For those with larger families it can seem impossible spending time with everyone equally, especially as we all have different needs and interests. However, it is important you find a way to spend one on one time with everyone – even just five minutes a day makes a huge amount of difference to how valued and loved people feel.
Ask older children, your partner or even a friend to look after younger children whilst you sit in your teen’s room and just chat. Perhaps you could turn bath time in to an opportunity to sing and play games, rather than something you have to rush through and just get done.
#4 – Family photos
Nothing make a child feel more loved and valued than seeing themselves on the wall in family photos. We live in a generation that takes so many photos and upload them to social media, but our children don’t get to see these.
By having a lovely family image on the wall they get the validation that they are a much wanted and loved member of the family, EVERY DAY.
I just love this video:
Don’t beat yourself up
No parent ever got it all right, and no one has all the answers – if they did it none of us would have to worry about these things. The key is to do what you can, when you can and not worry about the days when it doesn’t quite go to plan.
If you are working shifts and are unable to see your loved ones, remember that leaving notes or even videos is one way to check-in with them. Taking the time to leave them something shows you are thinking of them, even if other commitments mean you can’t always be there.