Tips to maximise the time you spend with your kids
As parents, it can be a constant struggle to balance the time you have for work, chores, exercise, hobbies, yourself - and your kids. It’s also all too common to experience that sense of guilt and worry that comes with feeling like you aren’t spending enough time with them. But how can we tackle this? Here are five tips to make the most of the time you do have with your kids, all while juggling your busy schedule.
Set up regular ‘mate dates’
nib parenting expert and neuroscience educator, Nathan Wallis, says ‘mate dates’ are a time-effective exercise that all busy parents should implement into their routine. Similar to the idea of ‘quality over quantity’, mate dates can be beneficial in connecting and building a stronger relationship between parent and child.
Simply set aside 10 minutes every week, where you let your child lead and do anything they want you to do. It’s important this period is scheduled at the same time every week, so your child can predict when it’s going to happen. This short, reoccurring exercise can be more effective than spending two-hours with them.
Especially in the early years, a fair amount of parenting consists of correcting children or telling them what they’re supposed to do. So, when you’re short on time but want to connect with them in a fun and engaging manner, try out this technique and let them lead the way!
Find ways to include your kids in your daily routine
Use your own hobbies or everyday tasks as an opportunity to find common interest with your kids. Ask them to help in the kitchen or get them to join you in some gardening. You could even help them discover a love of cooking or spark an interest in the outdoors.
Getting kids involved in your hobbies or helping with chores might sound like a big ask, but try starting with things in your routine that have similarities to activities they already enjoy. Studies have shown that when routine activities are aligned to a child’s interest, they learn more effectively and are likely to build better communication skills.
So, if they love playing with their toy cars, having them help you clean yours could be a good option. You can talk to them about the different car parts and engage with them meaningfully while ticking off a weekend task. They might not jump at the opportunity at first, but it may well turn into one of their favourite things to do!
Prioritise the key moments
Regardless of your child’s age, they’ll always need your support for the things they find challenging, so be there for those key moments. Nathan Wallis says this can be an effective way for busy parents to build meaningful relationships, but points out that this includes anything that’s really important to your child - so it’s crucial to read their cues.
Whether it’s a school production they only have a minor role in, a dentist appointment they’re scared of or if they’re needing some comfort following a period of grief - it’s important you prioritise making time for your child in the moments they need you. Being there for those key times will increase your child’s resilience and be remembered for years to come.
It’s about quality time
When you’re limited by time, the moments you share with your children are absolutely critical. Make sure you’re totally present and give your child your full, undivided attention. That means turning your phone onto silent and hiding the work laptop away.
A great way to ensure distraction-free quality time is to get out of the house so you’re not tempted by the TV in the background. When you properly connect and interact with your children, these are the moments both you and your family will treasure most.
Plan in advance – then make it happen
Although scheduling dedicated time with family might sound a bit prescriptive, it can effectively ensure quality time happens regularly.
Whether it’s a monthly fun outing to mini-golf or the zoo, or something as simple as getting home by 7pm for dinner together, put it in your schedule and then commit to making it happen.