Inside: Spending time with kids doesn’t have to be One More Thing on your list. Here’s the secret to fitting in quality time with kids in just 10 minutes a day.
Some days, it feels like I spend every waking second with my kids.
From the time they wake up in the morning until we put them to bed, we’re together. Whether they’re screeching like pterodactyls while I’m on an important phone call, seeking me out for every little sibling-inflicted injustice, or asking for food every 13 minutes, the constant barrage is well, constant.
Meanwhile, I have my own list of stuff I need to get done. Dishes, laundry, making meals (which means more dishes). Work, conference calls, email. Bills, budgeting, birthday planning. Rinse and repeat, all day every day.
And this isn’t unique to me. Research shows that in today’s world, we parents are spending more time than ever with our kids:
“The amount of time mothers and fathers spend in child care has been climbing since the 1970s. Fathers’ time has nearly tripled from 2.6 hours a week spent with kids in 1965 to 7.2 in 2010. Mothers’ time with children rose from 10.5 hours a week in 1965 to 13.7 in 2010.” – The Washington Post
We’re spending tons more time with our kids, but it’s not like our responsibilities as parents are decreasing to balance that out. If anything, our plates are fuller than they’ve ever been.
And so when one of my kids comes up to me and asks me to play pretend or read them a book or join a quick card game, my knee-jerk reaction is typically some variation of this: “Sorry honey, I don’t have time.”
But Here’s the Problem
With a finite number of hours in the day and an overflowing to-do list, I’m forever trying to get the maximum number of things knocked off my list in the limited time I have.
While I’m doing the dishes, I’m thinking through whether we have enough clean laundry to last another day. While I’m eating lunch, I’m making a list of phone calls to make after I’m done. While I’m sorting through the clutter that’s accumulated on my kitchen counter and multiplied like Gremlins, I’m making a mental grocery list.
So when one of my kids interrupted that go-go-go inertia and asked me to spend a few minutes of quality time with them, I felt absolutely justified in saying no. We spend so much time together already. Isn’t that enough?
But the truth is that in those moments, I’ve been missing the bigger picture.
I’m a mom of four, a Certified Parent Educator, and the author of Happy You, Happy Family. I believe if you want to nurture a loving parent-child relationship that will last into the teenage years and beyond, the time for nurturing that kind of relationship is now. As a bonus for joining my weekly newsletter, download my free cheat sheet of 75 Positive Phrases Every Child Needs to Hear, plus three important pitfalls to avoid when encouraging your child with positive phrases.