Does driving your kids to various activities count as family time in your household? Mighty Mommy understands. That's why she has 6 great tips to help you take back family time, stay connected, and have some fun in the process!
Tip #3: Limit Your Work Hours
Take an 8-hour workday, add commute time, then top it off with the hours we spend working at home each week, and you can see how there is nothing left over for your family or yourself.
Simplify your after-work routines. Family time, especially after a long workday, doesn’t have to mean dynamic activities. Maybe your child quietly does homework in the kitchen as you fix dinner, or you and your kids take the dog for a walk while the lasagna is in the oven. These easygoing activities allow you to spend time chatting about your accomplishments, instead of worrying about what didn’t get done.
This simple activity actually takes practice because today’s family typically doesn’t have regular mealtime together. But if you can find simple pleasures to enjoy after a long day of work and school, this in itself will give you some much-needed bonding time.
See also: How Routines Will Simplify Your Life
If you have a home office, create boundaries for both you and your kids. Set up your work space and hours so that your children know when you’re working and when you're not. When you are with them, be in the moment, not running to your computer every 10 minutes to send emails.
Tip #4: Scale Back on Kids’ Activities
Does it seem like you spend all your free time carting your kids from one practice or activity to another?
We all want our kids to have as many experiences and advantages as possible, so we sign them up for Tai Chi, art lessons, piano, soccer, baseball, scouts, swim lessons—the list goes on and on. Regardless of whether it’s your child begging to join all these activities or if you and your spouse feel they need to be exposed to as many opportunities as possible, step back and take a close look at how much time all of these commitments take.
Consider which of these activities you can trade in for a little family time. Get your kids involved by asking them which of these extracurricular are their favorites and which they can live without.
See also: 10 Ways to Be a More Organized Parent
Let's say your daughter's soccer league has scheduled an away tournament on Memorial Day weekend and your son's play rehearsals are seeping into school vacation.
Time for a new rule: Set aside certain weeks out of the year—holidays and vacations, perhaps—that are non-negotiable family time. Assess situation by situation, realizing that even if your kids become famous athletes or actors, one holiday weekend won’t make or break them. But building their family relationships with their parents, siblings, and grandparents may be fostered by those times.
Remember that kids aren’t kids forever, and once they are grown, your time with and influence on them diminishes substantially. Take the opportunity now to develop a close sense of family.
Tip #5: Housekeeping and Mealtime
It’s the working-parent's norm—arrive home exhausted from a long day at work only to be greeted by hungry kids, piles of dirty laundry, a rambunctious dog, and a messy house. So how are you supposed to create some family fun time amongst all this chaos?
For starters, get your kids involved daily household chores to free up time for you to just be with them instead of loading the dishwasher. Even if you have to make this part of your “together time,” when kids pitch in with housework, they feel they’re contributing to the family. And working side by side might open them up to talk to you. My teenage sons really enjoy cooking, so dinnertime is the perfect opportunity for me to chat with them because we’re busy and everyone's guard is down. It's the perfect situation for them to share what is going on in their lives in a non-judgmental, relaxed setting.
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If your family needs a mealtime makeover, let the kids get involved. Ask them to find and download recipes that they'd like to try. Then prepare them together.
We have “menu tryouts” a couple of times a month at our house. I write down the name of the new dish we’ll be trying on the whiteboard in our kitchen and then after dinner the kids leave notes on the board about what they liked or disliked about the new dish.
Tip #6: Create a Family To-Do List
Give every member of the household a chance to contribute to a Family To-Do list. Have everyone suggest a couple of activities that you can do together and keep a running list. Maybe one night a week is hot fudge sundae night after dinner or once a month you try a take-out restaurant that you’ve never tried before. Modify the list to accommodate younger kids as well as teens and don’t forget to add what you and your partner would like to do too.
See Also: Fun Ways to Keep Your Kids Active
How do you create more time to spend as a family? Share your thoughts in the comment section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at email@example.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.