Moms are busy, there’s no denying that. And sometimes I find that I’m so preoccupied with the responsibility of running a household that I miss the simple and obvious things. Amidst coordinating schedules and feeding everyone (which feels like a full time job in itself!), I overlook opportunities to take time to enjoy my kids.
Some of you probably would rather play dress up than take care of other household tasks, and I’m with you. I, however, feel incredibly behind, all the time. I’m running a business at home, trying to meal plan, grocery shop, stay up on laundry for 6, and clean up after a very busy household. I have some organizational cleaning calendars that help, but if I’m being completely honest, I haven’t been good at sticking with them lately.
I’m learning that for me, playing with my kids doesn’t always happen organically; I often have to be intentional about it. So I’m starting to take “time out” of the busyness to spend some time engaging with my kids. Here are a few tips for sneaking in some quality time.
- Set a timer. It sounds terribly unfeeling to say you are going to limit the time you spend with your kids, but playing trains for 20 minutes is better than playing no trains at all. If you’re like me you have a head or planner full of things that need to be done, and sometimes it’s difficult to stop “work” in order to play. When you’re feeling overwhelmed with other tasks, knowing there’s an end makes it easier to start. You can turn the timer off and keep playing trains for another 20 minutes, but if you really have to move on to another task at least you can work knowing you’ve made an effort to connect with your kids.
- Choose activities with a defined end. Some activities don’t lend themselves to timers. My daughter, for example, loves to play Skip-Bo. And she loves puzzles. By agreeing to 2 games or one puzzle, I know I’m going to satisfy her desire to do something together, but I don’t have to cut her of at an arbitrary time. There is a natural time to move on when an activity is complete.
- Break a rule. My kids know there’s no food allowed in the basement, but once in awhile it’s special to break the rule and have popcorn while watching a movie together. The popcorn tastes even better because they know we’re having a special time and breaking a rule.
I wanted to write today for the mom who feels like she should be doing more. I’m that mom. I’m the mom riddled with guilt that my kids are growing up hearing me say, “we’re going to be late, let’s go!” and “in a minute”, or “we’ll see”. I’m afraid I’m going to miss it. So if you’re like me… know you’re not alone.
The more we take time to get outside of our own tasks and schedules, the easier it becomes to ditch those things for the fun stuff. For example, my family is making maple syrup this spring. It has been a lot of work and takes a lot of time away from the normal routines, and away from the internet. I worried about not being able to stay connected while we were gathering our harvest (which is really just beginning here), but the more I spend time working in the woods, the less I desire access to my laptop.
So here’s my encouragement. If you feel like you’re not spending enough time engaging with your kids in their activities, take heart. It’s not too late. We can take small steps to reclaim this time and to make memories.
What are your favorite ways to spend time with your kids?