Creating quality time with family is difficult as we multi-task our way through the week. It seems that more and more often, “Hurry we are going to be late!” is the mantra of the day.
Working parents are always trying to find a way to fit ONE more thing into their daily schedules. Days are jam packed with work, school, errands, and daily routines. Weekends are sometimes even busier as soccer games, dance lessons, time with friends, and weekly chores pack the days and evenings. Sneaking in a little down time with your children can be difficult, but it is necessary. Children cherish these moments and it can help them and you recharge for the whirlwind of the next day. As parents, we sometimes need to be creative in grabbing those precious moments with our children.
But how do you fit it all in when dinner needs to be cooked and the laundry needs to folded and the play room is about to be declared an official disaster area. A few ideas:
Plan and cook dinner together
Include your children in menu planning for the week. Allow for a little time so you can negotiate with your little one as chicken nuggets every night is probably not your idea of a well-balanced meal plan. Menu planning together gives you an opportunity to discuss nutrition with your child and hopefully helps them feel a little more invested in the dinner that is served every night.
Include your child in actual dinner prep in the evening. You may be able to whip dinner together in 20 minutes on your own, but often that means refereeing fights from afar and saying, “Hold on. One minute” more times than you would like. If you have more than one child and the idea of involving all of them sounds more like a three ring circus than an actual productive plan consider giving each child one day a week to help you. Each child will get a little one on one time as you prepare dinner together. Your child’s role in dinner prep doesn’t have to be complicated. Give him/her simple tasks like pouring pre-measured ingredients, stirring things, or even some simple chopping with a child safe knife. And make sure to sprinkle in some extra praise for your child’s great meal as everyone sits down to dinner.
Time in the Car
It’s not a secret that we spend a lot of time in our cars. And a lot of that drive time includes time with the children. Instead of throwing in a DVD for the kids and taking a call yourself use some of the drive time for bonding time. Before you head out on the road work together with your child to create a special Mommy/Daddy and Me playlist that you can both sing and rock out to during commuting time. You could also download a family audiobook and listen together during car rides. Or how about instead share things that happened to you during your day as before peppering your child with questions about their day. For example, share what you had for lunch and who you ate with before asking your child about their lunch time. A car ride can even mean time to fit in a quick game. Game time doesn’t always have to mean board games at home sometimes a great car game can be even more fun and entertaining!
Here are some great games to play in the car with your 2-4 year old.
Chore time can be a frustrating time for both parents and children. Parents often feel like they are working hard and accomplishing little as they try to check items off the chore list and supervise the children. Giving children their own chores to do or having them help you with chores can eliminate some of the frustration and provide another opportunity for you to carve out some family time. In general children are lot more capable than we give them credit for, they may not accomplish tasks as fast as we would or even the exact way we would, but they can certainly help out. Even little ones can help match socks when laundry is being folded or put away the spoons when unloading the dishwasher. Experts agree that including children in household chores is a self-esteem booster for the child and helps them feel more a part of the family dynamic. By including children in the household chores everyone gets to spend more time together and maybe with all the extra help with chores there will be more time for family adventures.
It doesn’t seem likely that our day to day lives will slow down anytime soon, but we can work to create opportunities for family time in the midst of the chaos of the daily routines. I would love to hear how your family creates fun family time opportunities.