This post may contain affiliate links. Read my whole disclosure here.
Every mom knows the importance of spending time with children on a regular basis. But putting this into practice is not so easy.
I was a working mom for more than 2 years. Basically through the whole of my son’s toddlerhood.
I enjoyed spending time at the office and have those grown-up conversations that I missed during the months of maternity leave. But I also missed my child so much!
The last hour before leaving work was the most difficult. All I could think about was my son. I couldn’t wait to pick him up from the daycare, hug him, and just hold him in my arms for a while.
No matter how tired I was, I loved that moment when he was again in my arms after work! Even if keeping up with his energy wasn’t always easy! 🙂
But a lot more difficult than this was dealing with the feeling of guilt about not spending enough time with my son. So I always tried to make the most of the hours when we were together.
When I became a stay-at-home mom one year ago, the first thing that I thought about was that I will finally have plenty of time to spend with my son! No more guilt. No more long hours apart.
But things weren’t as easy as I imagined.
Soon I realized that being a stay-at-home mom is not a guarantee for spending quality time with my son. I felt that I have so much time with my son that I was no longer intentional about our time together.
One day, late in the evening, I was laying tired on the couch. My son came to me, handed me a small red car, and grabbed my hand.
“Do you want to spend some time with me?”, he asked with a big hopeful smile on his cute face.
In that moment, my first thought was that we already spent a lot of time together that day. And I was so tired. So sending him to play with his dad seemed such a good idea!
But I just couldn’t say “no”. I just laid on the floor and moves that small red car on the road that he built.
And as I was doing this I looked back on our day. We spent the whole day together but I wasn’t able to remember one single playful moment that we enjoyed together.
Our whole day was about going to the park, cooking, running errands, negotiating nap time, cleaning up toys. But playfulness and emotional connection were missing. And that was what he really requested when handing me that small red car.
In that moment I realized it more than ever: Spending time with children is not about quantity but quality.
I can be a stay-at-home mom and still be disconnected from my son. As well as I can be a working mom and still spend meaningful moments with my child every day.
It’s not about having time for my son. It’s all about making time for him. And being emotionally available to play with him and build that strong connection between us.
Now I work from home so I have many busy moments during the day. But this precious lesson helps me be more intentional with the time that I spend with my son.
I am aware that I cannot be available to him all the time. That sometimes I’m too tired to be playful. That I still need some time for me every day to be able to “refill my emotional tank” and not become an angry, impatient mom.
But what I can do every day is to find a time to connect with my son. To make him laugh, to play together, to read him a story. To let him know how much I love him and how precious these moments are for me.
And the best thing about this is that I can do this no matter how busy my day is.
Easy changes that make a difference
If you struggle with finding more quality time to spend with your kids, I’ve gathered here some ideas that worked great for me and I’m pretty sure they can work for you too!
1. Transforming necessary tasks into opportunities to connect with my son
I’m a big believer that we don’t necessarily need more free time to connect with our kids. All we need is a little bit of creativity and the willingness to make room for more connection.
Transforming regular tasks or activities into opportunities to connect is an easy way to do this.
Here are some examples:
– involving my child in grocery shopping or cooking by asking for his help or using that time to talk about his favorite topics
– using the time spent in traffic or during walks to talk, play silly games, laugh, and tell stories
This was a great way for me to connect with my son on the way back from work. I was turning off all distractions (phone calls, radio, social media) and I was just focusing on him.
– transforming different tasks around the house into playful moments
Doing laundry is much more fun if you let your child throw the clothes into the washing machine and keep a score of how many times they score. Cleaning up toys is more fun if you play some nice music and invite the child to dance with you while cleaning up. A little bit of creativity can add a lot of joy to anything you do!
2. Setting a distraction-free hour
It’s amazing how much time we can spend every day on useless things just because there are so many distractions around us. Sometimes I open Facebook on my phone just to check a notification and I end up scrolling the news feed for half an hour.
Or I open Pinterest to find an activity to do with my son and I end up creating a new board of travel destinations.
Setting a distraction-free hour means that for that time I turn off all distractions (phone, laptop, TV, tablet, etc). I don’t check any notifications, I don’t answer any phone calls.
It does mean that I necessarily play with my son for that whole hour. Sometimes I just lay on the floor and watch what he is doing. But he is so happy to have me close!
If you get easily distracted by all the “temptations” around you (like I do), you should totally try this! It can really make the difference!
3. Making everyday moments more special
If you don’t have a lot of time to spend with your kids, an easy way to make that time more meaningful is to create special moments for you and your kids.
Creating special moments doesn’t have to be time-consuming and exhausting. Kids find joy in the smallest gestures that we make for them.
Here are some ideas that we tried:
– Instead of just reading some books to my child, I make storytime more special by making a blanket fort and reading books inside it. (The easiest way to make the blanket fort is to put a big blanket on a table.)
– After busy days when we haven’t had too many chances to connect, I use his bathtime to add some fun to our day. I stay with him in the bathroom and we sing aloud silly songs. He laughs a lot when he hears me and I have fun too!
– Instead of just eating lunch or dinner together, I set an indoor picnic in the living room. And we eat on the floor! He loves the idea of breaking the “eating on the table” rule.
Making these everyday moments more special adds more joy to my child’s life. And the time we spend together becomes more meaningful and precious.
Kids need our love and attention every single day. But this doesn’t mean that we need to spend the whole day close to them to do this. No matter how busy we are, we can make time for our kids! I truly believe this.
It’s not about the number of hours that we spend with our kids. It’s about the moments when we are truly present. And the love that we put in the hours that we get to spend with them.
More from Playful Notes
photo credit: Evgeny Atamanenko / shutterstock.com