Every working mom’s worst fear...not spending enough time with their kids.
Are ya’ feeling this one, mama?
By the time you get home, make dinner, clean up and do homework, there seems to be no time. And, if you have an extra curricular once or twice a week - you can completely throw those days out the window, right?!?!
If you’re new here, WELCOME!! Check out the blog post I’ve linked below...I think you’ll like it.
What are the common suggestions for spending time with the kids that we hear?
You know the ones, they are the blurbs you read that make you roll your eyes, they make you think who the f*ck has time for this at night? Or even, whose kid enjoys this shit?
I mean really… not everything is going to work for everyone...I cannot stress this enough.
Before we can get on to that, I wanted to quick link you up with my freebie - 10 Tips to Decrease Family Stress - because everyone can stand to be a little less stressed these days. And some of these tips can even help with the issue of not spending enough time with the kids.
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So, let’s take a look at these “common” suggestions.
Have them help you cook.
Are you effing kidding me?
If you’re meal prepping on the weekend...this will work, you have a dedicated time for cooking and clean up. (Personally, I HIGHLY recommend meal prepping on the weekend...and if you prefer “fresh” cooked food during the week, at least food prep...there is a difference in the two, both will save you a TON of time when it comes to prep time and clean up time.)
But if you do all your cooking after work, which many people do...you’re trying to SAVE time at night and you really don’t want to be wiping down walls and floors at 9pm because the kids “helped”.
Ask them what their best and worst parts of their days were before bed.
This suggestion seems to assume that you’ll get these wonderful nuggets of wisdom from your kids right before they drift off to dreamland. They’ll feel good about it all as they fall asleep and you’ll feel like the world’s best parent when you hear it.
I’ve tried this one. And if your kids are anything like mine, they’re going to tell you the best part was leaving school and the worst part was “I don’t know”.
This feels so forced, and, from the kids’ perspective, why are they being asked questions right before bed?
Play a game with your kids.
O.M.FREAKING.G. have you done this?
Again, just like with them helping you cook, this is great for weekends when there’s a little more time. I’m all for it.
But during the week...this is when we feel like we aren’t paying attention to them enough...and during the week is NOT a time for UNO with the cheater who has a meltdown every time s/he doesn’t win. During the week is NOT a time for playing pirates, which is a completely made up game in their head where all you hear is “Mom, say this” “Dad, go here” “Mom pirates don’t do that”.
OOOOOKKKKKKKK….I thought we were being creative here, kid….I didn’t know this was a pirate dictatorship.
So, you’re reading this thinking, “So what the hell do you expect us to do with our kids?” Right??
I am by no means a parenting expert. None of us are.
But here’s the thing, and I’m just being honest, when you wake up at 4am and you don’t go to bed until 10pm and you’re at work most of those hours, you don’t want to do most of this shit when you get home.
When you get home you want to TURN SHIT OFF (this will be another blog post coming soon!)
The homework itself takes at least 30 minutes, then 30 minutes to make dinner, 20 minutes to clean up, 10-15 minutes to inhale it...and with that you have maybe 30 minutes left to spend “enough” time with your kids.
So, what’s “enough”? And how do you spend “enough” time when you literally are maxed out on time in the evenings. You’re not letting them stay up late, not Sunday through Thursday...that right there is setting everyone up for a stressful and God-awful morning the next day.
I’m going to go ahead and be a little cliche here and say it’s not the quantity of time you spend with your kids, but the quality.
In order to make those memories, in order for them (and you) to feel that connection, in order for you to stop making yourself feel like shit, because you do need to stop making yourself feel like shit, you need to KNOW your kid(s).
And I’m not saying you don’t know your kids.
Really, you know them better than anyone else, and no one can doubt that.
You can see it in their eyes when they’re starting to come down with something. You know that the hysterical fit they just threw was because they had too much sugar earlier. You know that they will eat the bruised banana if you hand it to them a certain way so that they don’t see the bruised part. You know that one of your kids can easily concentrate and follow directions while the other is a complete free spirit and needs some...okay...A LOT...of guidance. (Honey, can we just finish the math problem and stop worrying about whether or not mummies brush their teeth, or even have teeth to brush?)
So...what are three real and honest ways to spend time with your kids…
Time they’ll remember…
Kids LOVE pictures! They love looking at pictures of you when you were younger, they love looking at pictures of random people and animals, and they LOVE looking at pictures of themselves.
So, whether it’s Snapchat filters or filters on your phone’s camera - take time to take pictures of them with and without the cute and funny filters...and if you’re daring enough...BE IN THE PIC WITH THEM.
You don’t have to post to the socials; I don’t post my kids...they will have enough time in their lives to make that decision on their own in a few years. But I do show them...and every now and then we go through them and choose new pictures to print out and put in the big collage style frame we have on the dining room wall.
2. Watch their favorite show with them.
Now this doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but here’s how you make it something that matters.
Ask them, “Can I sit with you?”
Why does this matter? Take a minute to remember back in grammar school or even high school...do you remember that feeling when someone WANTED to sit with you, when they asked if they could sit with you? You felt good about that, right? (most of the time, anyway) THAT makes them feel special.
Ask them if you could hold their hand while you watch TV, or rub their back, or play with their hair. You know what your kid likes, but it’s this 20-30 minutes before bed where you’re going to make that connection with them. And it’s when you’re connecting like this...this is when they will open up and talk to you or ask you questions. (As opposed to forcing it before bedtime).
3. Color with them
Do you remember coloring? Do you still color?
The market for adult coloring books is ridiculously huge, isn’t it? More and more adults take time out of their day to de-stress and color. There are also a ton of free printables online, so even if the kids don’t want to use the coloring books they have, just hop over to Google and ask it for free printable coloring pages.
To make it even easier, I included a couple links below of sites I use for printables.
So, sit on the floor with your coffee, or water, or adult beverage...whatever…
Grab a coloring book, your printable, or some blank paper and some crayons, pencils, markers and color with them.
Not only will this help you remove some of the day’s stress, but it brings you to their level.
When you think about it, there is so much that kids don’t understand about being an adult..hell...adults don’t even understand being an adult half the time. So, to them, there’s this huge gap of unknown...the things you like to do as an adult, they just don’t get. And when you’re enjoying something that they enjoy, it makes them more comfortable with you.
You’re not spending your evenings doing “kid things” vs. “adult things”.
Mama, I know it’s a struggle. We never think we’re doing enough. And it’s really easy to push ourselves to be better, to one-up ourselves, but that’s not the mom you want your kids to know. That’s not the mom you want your kids to remember.
So, the amount of time matters WAY LESS than the quality of time.
You can sit at the park with them and scroll through your phone answering emails and text messages for two hours while they scream “Look at this, mom!” and you reply with a half-hearted “That’s great honey.”
Don’t judge...we’ve all done it…
Or you can spend 20-30 minutes after dinner having a the physical and emotional connection with them that is going to help them develop into amazing people. And get a bear hug at bedtime accompanied by “You’re the bestest mom”.
You choose, mama.
Hours with the kids where you’re half-heartedly interacting with them because you’re too worried about work and all the other adulting, or a quality twenty or thirty minutes a night where you are really connecting with them.
I’d love if you re-pinned this on Pinterest, either to refer back to later, or to share with other working moms.
And, if you haven’t already, connect with me on Facebook and Instagram and let me know what you think of this blog post...or let me know what other ways you connect with your kids in the short amount of time you have with them in the evenings!
Hey, I'm Natalie and I'm an author, a wife, and mom of two kids and two dogs.
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