Quality Time with Kids

As a mom I often feel overwhelmed by the pressures of daily life.  Working full time can consume all of my time and energy leaving nothing left for my husband and children. There are days I come home exhausted and my children immediately bombard me with requests and questions.

What's for dinner? 

Can I have a playdate with my friend?  

Can we go shopping?

Can we go to the library?

I'm hungry! 

Some days this is enough to send me over the edge. I love that my children are happy to see me, but sometimes I wish they could greet me with a hug and then give me five minutes to decompress from my often busy work days. I also wish I could fit more time with my children into my busy schedule.  We have our  routine trips to the library each week, but I'm sure my kids would like to try new things.  It's difficult to find new things to do in the winter months other than sledding which we did only once because we're lacking in snow this season.

It's important to me to nurture a strong and loving relationship with my husband and children. I know it's easier said than done when everyone is going in different directions. As the "default parent" I'm responsible for knowing where everyone needs to be and what needs to get done.  Try as he might, my husband doesn't seem to grasp the concept of thinking ahead when it comes to this stuff.

Lately I've been thinking of little things I can do that don't take much effort at all. It's been an experiment.  I've started to be more conscious of my attitude. I smile when the kids enter the room.  I make sure they know that I'm ready to listen and talk with them. It's too easy to get distracted or even annoyed when they ask questions because my mind is on other things.  I never want my boys to think I don't have time for them.

I've also made an effort to hug all my kids at least once a day. Having a two year old who needs a lot of attention has made me realize that he's getting a lot of hugs and kisses. I started to realize I don't hug my older kids as often.  I always assumed they were embarrassed or didn't want me to fawn over them.  The first time I spontaneously hugged my oldest he asked me if something was wrong, but the coolest part was that he didn't let go first.  The middle kiddo was more receptive, too.

Another thing I'm excited to start doing again is scheduling one-on-one time with the boys.  We used to mom and son dates but as our schedules got busier we had to put them on hold.  I've been focusing more on what we can do together at home.  My youngest and I have reading time every night.  My middle child and I play a board game several times a week.  His latest favorite is Mancala and he beats me quite a bit.  And my oldest and I take a few minutes out of the day to talk about how his day was and I love that he shares his stories with me.

My husband is also making an effort to engage more with our kids.  He tries to include them in daily activities.  My older boys made breakfast this morning and we shoveled the driveway as a family.  It made the work much more fun. Sometimes my husband gets annoyed when the boys don't do things the way he would, but I am super impressed that he used words of encouragement instead of criticism.  I know it must have drove him crazy when our middle son shoveled the front yard.

Last week my librarian friend shared a great idea.  She suggested watching television programs together that help children learn about life. She offered a few recommendations such as Mythbusters, Sesame Street (my old favorite), Mister Roger's Neighborhood, America: The Story of Us, Cooked, Finding Your Roots, Origins: The Journey of Human Kind and more.

I'm also looking forward to Spring and warmer weather so that we can resume our Sunday walks.  I miss them so much.  Being cooped up in the house because it's freezing outside is begging to drive us all a little crazy.  My boys and I have the best conversations when we're taking a long walk outside.

In the meantime I'm going to keep searching for new ideas.  What are your tips for spending more time with your kids?


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