Busy Parents: Tips for Finding Quality Time

Who is ready to take on an Autumn Resolution?


We’re not talking New Year’s Resolutions - an entire year is often too daunting of a task.

But an autumn resolution? Totally do-able. Four months is so much easier than twelve!

Plus, autumn is a wonderful time to make a change, to shift a mindset, to adopt a new routine.


And why not make it something that benefits your entire family? How about committing to finding and enjoying in-between moments of quality time together?


We’re not talking huge quality time commitments - in fact, we’ve debunked that idea over here - we’re talking small changes that will help you have stronger and more authentic relationships with your children.


Are you up for it?


(If you’re looking for company, come join our community over at Working Parents Circle!)


Ready to get started? Here are our top tips to help you along your way.


Embrace Quality, not Quantity


If you’re crazy busy with work and life, you may not feel like you’ve got a lot of extra time to spare. Think small. We’re betting you can find 9 minutes though, especially if you break it into three 3-minute blocks. Give your child your undivided attention for 3 minutes when they first wake up, 3 minutes when you’re reunited after work, and 3 minutes before they go to bed.


Small Stuff Matters More


Quality time doesn’t have to consist of big, memorable events. Small things matter just as much, if not more - as you can do them more often than the big stuff. Involve your children in routine events, like cleaning, grocery shopping, or laundry. Letting them “help” builds their confidence and it’s never too early to start functioning together as a family unit. See below for more concrete ideas!


Joy in the Unexpected


Do you go puddle jumping with your child? Let your child wear pajamas to the grocery store? Have breakfast for dinner? Sometimes exceptions to the rule are ok (we’re talking within reason here, let’s be sensible grown-ups). Since children thrive on routines, occasionally bringing in the unexpected is a memorable event!


Put Away the Distractions


When you’re with your children, are you really giving them your undivided attention? Most of us are highly responsive to the dings, beeps and other notifications from our devices. When you’re with your child, give them your attention - for real. Put the devices away - by blocking out time on your calendar, setting app timers, using docking stations, turning off notifications during certain hours, or even uninstalling apps that are your biggest distraction sources.


Be Consistent


Consistency is key. Talk to your childcare provider or teacher about the things they do with your child during the week. Integrate some of the same things at home, like songs or routines. If your child is old enough, let them teach you things they’ve learned. Children love the role reversal, and the repetition reinforces their learning.


Give Yourself Grace


We’re all human, and we’ll all have days where we feel like we’re failing at something. There are going to be days when you feel like you’ve not had quality time at home, and there are going to be days when you feel like you’ve not put in enough time at work. Give yourself the grace to see that in your child’s eyes, you are amazing. And on the tough days be honest with your child. Explain that some days you need to focus on work, but that it doesn’t mean that work is more important. It’s never too early to set the foundation of open and honest communications with your child.


Need specific ideas on how to involve your child in the day-to-day tasks? Check out a few ideas below!


Cooking

- Bring your baby into the kitchen while you cook. Talk to your baby about what you’re doing. Offer up the sights, sounds, and smells of cooking. Tell your baby stories of your best (or worst!) cooking memories.

- Give your toddler pots, spoons, measuring cups, etc. Let them play with stacking, scooping, or playing (supervised) with water or other sensory-friendly foods. Which spoon is the biggest? The smallest? Involve your toddler in finding the ingredients you need for your meal. Investigate the differences between types of foods. Which are soft? Which are hard? This is all about exploration!

- Teach your preschooler how to measure. How much is a cup? Which is smaller - a tablespoon or a teaspoon? Where appropriate (and safe), involve your preschooler with the cooking prep. Include your preschooler in menu planning.

- Let your older child take the lead in planning a meal - from picking a menu to sourcing ingredients to cooking. Talk with them about what they’re doing, and be their sous-chef. Reverse the roles for an evening!


Laundry

- Bring your baby with you as you sort and fold laundry. Narrate what you’re doing - “This is Mommy’s favorite t-shirt. It’s blue and white. Let’s fold it and put it in Mommy’s pile. What else in this pile is blue?”

- Let your toddler or preschooler move laundry from the washer to the dryer. Ask them to sort clean laundry by color, size, style (ex.shirts vs. pants), or by who it belongs to. Older children can help put laundry away - make it a race, or work together as a team.

- Teach older children how to fold laundry. Work together to get the task done. Use these few minutes to ask meaningful questions about their day.


Grocery shopping

- Talk to your baby about what you see and smell. Show your baby the different foods you select. Talk about what meals you’re planning for the week.

- Introduce lots of nouns and adjectives when grocery shopping with your toddler and preschooler. Compare and contrast different types of produce. Which is a fruit, which is a vegetable? Identify different shapes, colors, and tastes. Designate grocery shopping as a special thing you get to do together.

- Give older children shopping assignments, and let them take the lead to find the item. Show older children how to read unit prices and nutritional labels.


Cleaning

- Use a baby carrier to make cleaning easier on everyone. As you pick up, wipe down, sweep, vacuum, etc, narrate what you’re doing. (In reality, simply talk to your baby about anything! Your baby loves the sound of your voice!)

- Let your toddler have special chores. Maybe they push the start button on the dishwasher or can wipe off the coffee table. Talk to your toddler about what the two of you will do after the cleaning up is done.

- Race your preschooler to see who can tidy up the fastest. Need to do a big toy pick up? Organize by color or type - “Let’s find all of the books first!” or “Can you find the things that are green?”. Let your preschooler pick a song and see if you can clean up the blocks before the song ends. This is a great age to have consistency with what your child’s daycare provider does for clean-up time!

- Let your older child pick the playlist for cleaning time. Make a list of chores that need to get done, and let your child pick a number from the list (“You picked number 4? Ok, number 4 is sweep the stairs!”). Change it up from week to week.


Want more suggestions? Check out Vroom - specifically for children ages 0-5. (We're not affiliated with Vroom and get no perks for the recommendation, we just love their stuff!)


Do you have a good quality time routine? Share it in the comments!

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