Your children need to spend meaningful time with you. They need to see who you are and how you live your life. And in return, they will help you to better see who you are.
When you add up all the time your kids spend at day care, in school, asleep, at friends’ homes, with babysitters, and otherwise occupied with activities that don’t include you, the remaining moments become especially precious.
Not every day with your kids will be perfect, but hopefully one day you will greet their departure with a profound sense of satisfaction because you’ve given them what they need to succeed and also given yourself what you need to feel like a successful parent. it’s impossible to slow down time, here are five ideas with tips on how to optimize the time you spend with your kids:
Practice Parenting Meditation
When you’re overwhelmed with your responsibilities, it’s easy to toggle into automatic pilot with your kids. But if your mind is elsewhere during the precious moments you’ve worked hard to preserve, you have lost your kids’ childhood just as surely as if you hadn’t spent the time with them at all. Instead, try to stay in the moment with a “parenting meditation,” in which you focus on seeing your kids, hearing them, understanding them, and really being amazed by what you’ve created — living, breathing miracles of nature who are learning like sponges and growing like weeds.
Have Theme Night
Dinner at home with the whole family is special unto itself, but your kids will be even more eager to sit down together when your meal has a theme. You can have pizza night, Chinese night, egg night, or pancake night. Special dinner nights are also a unique opportunity to increase your kids’ involvement in cooking with you.
Fix It Together
Home improvements are a great way to spend time with them while teaching them about tools and life at the same time. The attic, the basement, and the crawl space are all classrooms for learning how things work and how to safely fix things. Give them a flashlight, and talk them through the job you’re doing. As they get older, hold the flashlight for them. Instead of dreading things that break, you’ll see new tiles, built-in shelves, and paint jobs as bonus chances for time with your kids.
Don’t Drive Everywhere
The next time you need to take your children somewhere nearby, try to get there on foot. Walking with your kids is a great way to slow down the pace of your lives and to have more unscripted moments with them. Talk about where you’re going, what you’re thinking, what they’re thinking, what you see on the way, and who said what to whom in school today. Hold hands if your kids haven’t gotten too cool for that yet.
Play Their Games
If you decide to bring video games into your home, do your best to screen them and even learn how to play them so you can experience this part of your kids’ world. Why? First, your kids will “kick your butt,” to use their phrasing; this is one activity where you’ll never have to let them win, and it’s a good thing for children to occasionally see their parents as human and vincible. Second, there will be guaranteed hilarity at your lack of dexterity. Finally, some games have somewhat redeeming virtual reality, because they mimic real-world activities such as table tennis, bowling, baseball, skiing, and dancing (which are certainly much better than games where you blow each other up). But set time limits, lest their virtual realities take over their reality.