Finding time to connect (without adding to your calendar)
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or one that works a 60-hour-a-week corporate job, it’s always hard to find enough time to connect with your kids. Inspired by the idea of enjoying more family time during Ramadan, we’ve put togethereight smart tips that’ll help you find time to connect with your little ones without having to adjust your already busy calendar.
One of the biggest challenges for parents is finding time to connect with their little ones. Let’s be honest, there isn’t even enough time to do it on weekends, right? While most of us try to factor in some down time on those two precious days off, we inevitably end up cooking, doing homework, shopping, or running errands. If you feel like you’re rushing through life wracked with guilt about not connecting with your kiddos properly, we’ve got eight clever ideas that will help. Want to know the best part? You won’t need to add anything to your calendar.
- Give yourself a break
There’s a saying that goes, ‘I was the perfect parent, until I had kids’. There’s so much pressure on mamas and papas to be perfect and we’re kind of done with that, to be honest. So, take a deep breath and repeat after us: “I’m doing my best, and that’s more than good enough.” Great. Now that that’s out the way, remember: when it comes to human connection, quality trumps quantity. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or a working mum or dad, connecting with your little ones is about being fully present in the moment, even if you only have five minutes with them at bedtime.
- Don’t feel bad about asking (and paying) for help…
If the idea of hiring help has you squirming, a change of perspective might help. Consider this: you’re not hiring someone to clean your house, you’re paying someone to give you more time with your little ones. Hiring help is not an expense, it’s a time investment. That feels better, right? Hiring help doesn’t mean taking on a live-in cleaner or nanny, unless that’s what you want. Getting a babysitter in on a Saturday night so you can do the shopping while your child is asleep, or getting a part-time cleaner to drop by twice a week to do the laundry, will offer you more free time with the kids.
- Love the night time
If you have a spouse or help at home and you don’t necessarily have to go into an office during traditional work hours every day, try and reschedule your day around the kids, even if it’s just once or twice a week. That way you can answer emails and/or do housework on those nights, leaving the daytime free to be with your little ones. Will you be tired? Probably, but we promise that acting the fool with your kiddos in the sunshine hours will be worth it. Some offices are open to flexible working hours too, so consider chatting to your boss to negotiate a half day off even just once a month to spend more time with your favourite little people.
- Ask yourself: “Do I really need to watch that video of a cat doing handstands?”
Silencing your tech gadgets is absolutely vital to being present. Just ask the Dalai Lama. We know you can’t be disconnected all the time, but turning your phone or tablet on silent for a few hours over the weekend – or all weekend, if you can – will help you focus on being present with the people you love. You might be shocked at how much time we actually spend on social media. Research shows that the average person spends nearly two hours (about 116 minutes) on social media every day. That’s about five years and four months over a lifetime. We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with social media. After all, we love Instagram! We’re just saying that it's important to make sure you’re divvying up your time so that it works for you and your family. If the pick-up-the-phone temptation arises, ask yourself: do I really need to watch that viral cat video right now?
- Make games out of everything
The best thing about kids is their capacity to imagine. Use that to your advantage! Car rides are a great place to connect through play, for example. On the way to school you could pretend that your car is a rocket and you’re on your way to Mars. At bath time, perhaps the bath is an ocean and you’re escaping pirates. Maybe you are the pirates! Connecting through imagination is a wonderful and easy way to just be together, and you can do it no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
- Pick up the feather duster
Cleaning could actually equal connection. Small kids love being involved with seemingly boring everyday chores while older kids relish helping out if you turn the chore into a game. So, recreate that famous Mary Poppins cleaning scene, play ‘Who Can Clean up the Fastest?, or time your minis to see how fast they can sort their toys into colours.
- Just say no
It’s okay to ditch that brunch that, let’s be honest, you probably don’t really feel like going to anyway. Sure, your friends will miss you, but they’ll get over it. Far too often, parents bulk up their schedules saying yes to everything because they have a genuine fear of missing out. Here’s a calendar-planning tool that won’t just save you time, but your sanity too: commit to only half of what you usually would, and spend the rest of the time doing what you really love with your family. Don’t you feel relieved just reading that?
- Get help with the homework
If you have a child who turns into an ogre come homework time, get help from a tutor or an adult that your kid respects. Just think, you might even be able to fit in some me time while someone else oversees the algebra or English. When you get home, you’ll have the rest of the day open to enjoy with your child, instead of pulling your hair out over a geography book. This might require spending some cash, but – again – you’re making a time investment, remember?