Working parents, I feel you. We get up in the morning, get everyone ready to face the day, then hand our children over to someone else (nanny, daycare, school, grandparents, etc…) for the next several hours. We return at the end of the day, fix and eat dinner, give baths, and get everyone ready for bed. Our time spent with our children is usually far from what I’d consider “quality”.
Our weekends are usually jam-packed with activities (soccer games, birthday parties, etc…), and we also have to try and find time to get the laundry done, clean the house, and tend to our pets. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all we aspire to. How can we make the most of the little time we have at home with our littles? I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are a few little ways you can maximize your time at home:
Get up early.
I know, you like to sleep in. If you have young kids, you’re likely awake with them anyway. So get up. Get moving. The hours between rising and nap time are some of the most pleasant hours your kids are going to have all day, so take advantage of them. You’ll feel like you accomplished so much more if you don’t sleep all of your morning hours away. This doesn’t have to be every weekend, of course. If your kids let you sleep in, it’s okay to indulge every once in a while (also, I’m jealous).
Get outside (weather permitting).
Try to spend at least an hour a day playing with your wee ones outside. As long as the weather is decent, a little fresh air and the sunshine can go a really long way. Not just for the kids, either. Getting out of the house and spending time TOGETHER outside is good for everyone’s emotional and mental state. If the weather is crappy, you can plan indoor activities or visit a local aquarium or museum. If you do some research, there are usually LOTS of local activities you can do that are either free or cost very little. Get on Google, local Facebook mom or parenting groups, or talk to your friends with kids. You’ll be glad you did.
Time spent sitting down together, sharing a meal, is important stuff. How many of your childhood memories involve sitting around the table with your parents and siblings? The meal itself is not important (for the purposes of this post, anyway). It’s the time spent eating it, talking and getting to know each other a little more. Allow time to slow down a little, and talk to your kids. No screens at the table, just food, and conversation. This will go a very long way in teaching them how to communicate with actual humans in this increasingly digital world.
I know, it’s so much easier to talk about these things than to actually do them. But, you know the old saying, “they’re only this little once”. It’s so, so true. Their childhood is a flitting moment in time, and it will be over before you know it. Make the time to spend with them, get to know them and allow them to know you as a person, not a lunatic that yells and drinks wine all the time. Embrace the small moments, they’ll be over before you’re ready.
About the Author
Irene is a veterinarian in Tarpon Springs, Florida and enjoys her weekends with her husband, daughter (Charlee), and son (George). You can read more of her personal parenting stories on her own parenting blog, drvetmom.com.