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Making Memories: Carving out Quality Time With Your Kids as a Working Parent

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Being a parent is tough, but when you add in the demands of a full-time job on top of the day to day ins and outs of running a household? It can seem nearly impossible to carve out time to spend together as a family.

Of course, there’s also the fear you’re doing your kids a disservice by not being there for them all day, every day.

Fortunately, you can relax a little. Research has shown the quantity of time you spend with your kids matters less than the quality time you spend with them.

A large-scale, longitudinal study titled Does the Amount of Time Mothers Spend With Children or Adolescents Matter? published in the Journal of Marriage and Family revealed that the amount of time spent with kids from the ages of 3 to 11 had little impact on how they turned out and had a minimal effect on adolescents.

But what is quality time?

It’s a time when you’re not distracted by a million other things and are paying close attention to your child. You’re making eye contact, listening intently and showing how much you care about them and what they have to share.
family time

How to carve out time with the kids

Does this sound like your day? After school activities, dinner, homework, bath time, bedtime, carpools and lunch bags…  and that doesn’t even count the hours spent in traffic gridlock, silly office politics and dingy cubicles with no view.

Then, you get to wake up the next day and do it all over again. And in the back of your mind, you’re stressing out about how your youngest hasn’t seemed to make any friends and your oldest will soon be leaving the nest.

Decompress first

When you’ve got a million things to do and seemingly not enough time to get them done your stress levels quickly shoot up. Kids pick up on your stress and are often think they’re the reason for the stress.

This can leave them feeling confused, angry or sad. It’s why it’s so important to decompress before trying to spend quality time with them.

One way to decompress is to “toss the TV!”

Seriously though, try a “TV fast” for a period of time. Whether it’s just a few hours, a few days, or even longer, simply shut off the TV. Shut off your smartphone, and close your laptop’s lid as well. Then breathe slowly and decompress.

Whether it’s the TV news, social media craziness or nagging emails from your boss, sitting in front of a screen does little to help you relax.

When you’ve shut down all of the distractions and focused on what means the most to you – your family – you can really live “in the moment” and give them your undivided attention.

Next steps

Now that you’ve decompressed, choose one to three of the following tips for carving out quality time with your kids and put it into practice right now.

Once you start adding more quality time to what you already have you’ll enjoy the time you do have with your kids even more!

Schedule time

This is an obvious, but often overlooked step.

Set a date for spending time with your child and mark it on the family calendar.

Your child has the thrill of looking forward to the time they’ll get to spend with you. You have peace of mind knowing that your child feels loved and appreciated.

AM routine

Dedicate as little as 10 minutes to your morning routine for an activity you do with just your child. It can be as simple as making breakfast together, or discussing the plans each of you have for the day.  Children respond well to consistency and routine.

Bedtime routine

The evening routine before bedtime is a great time to slip in some more quality time. While older kids often want to be more independent, younger ones love to have you more involved. This is a great time to brush your teeth with them, tuck in their toys (an easy way to encourage tidying up!), or read a story together before they drift off to sleep.

Other suggestions include:

  • Take a picture together every day
  • Exercise together – walk the dog, ride bikes, play tag
  • Cook dinner or bake together
  • Family game night
  • Plant and tend a garden
  • Camp out in the living room
  • Make crafts together
  • Play music and dance together

Do you see a common theme here?

Spending time with your kids doesn’t have to be an all-day affair to be memorable. Even short but truly connected time together makes a huge impact.

Spend time with your kids just doing things together. Make the times you spend with them more special by doing things which are out of the ordinary. This helps you strengthen the bonds you’re forging with them every day. And remember, they’re only kids once!

Carving out quality family time with your kids

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