It doesn’t matter whether you have one child, or ten children, making time to be there for everyone is not always as easy as mums would like. It is important to remember that while mums mostly want their family to be happy, mums are busy people and they deserve to be happy too. Families are where we learn our best lessons in life, and how best we can support each other.
- Bedtime Routine
If you get nothing else right, do this! Spend a few moments with your family at bedtime. Make it a priority, regardless of whatever else is going on in your life, and in your head, to sit with each child before they go to sleep and give them space to talk to you, one on one. They may have something small troubling them and don’t want to trouble you more. Ask the question and listen for what’s on their mind.
2. Make a Plan
If you plan family time in advance, there’s a good chance are it will happen! Have a family calendar that each family member can see. The dates should be a firm promise and, just because it is scheduled as ‘family time,’ it is not to be taken lightly or as optional! What is all your work for if not for the benefit of your family.
3. Family Meals
At least one meal a day should be enjoyed as a family, preferably around the kitchen or dining room table. This should be a safe space for conversation, debate, and discussions. There is always the chance that conflict can arise between siblings, or between parents and children, and it’s a perfect opportunity for younger members to get things resolved – over shared food! Tech distractions should be avoided.
All family members can be involved with household chores. “The best way to raise grounded children is to place some responsibility on their shoulders”. This lets them know they are part of a team, and they can practice the skills of teamwork, negotiation and collaboration. They can also learn the connection between labour and reward! Along with doing their schoolwork, they also see that laundry needs folding, the dishwasher needs emptying, desks need tidying, beds need made up, cars and rooms need vacuuming and family pets need minding. This will serve them well when they have families of their own.
Otherwise children grow up thinking these tasks get done ‘by magic’ or worse “by mum’’!!! Of course every household is different, and chores can be assigned according to household needs and the age of the children.
5. Date Night
Set aside a regular time per week to spend with each child, by themselves, just your special time on a special treat – a movie, a sports outing, a burger, a car ride, or just a walk in the park. Whatever gets you both up and going, just go, as long as it’s just the two of you.
6. Just Us, Unplugged
Start a family tradition that involves everyone disconnecting completely, depending on your schedule, just to share time out together. No technology. No tv series to watch. No mobile phones. Maybe take a night out at the seaside or a weekend camping under the stars in the mountains. Whatever you choose, be fully connected with each other and nature, totally disconnected from busy distractions. Reconnect with your own childhood – teach the kids your ‘old’ games and let them teach you their ‘new’ ones. It’s fun to learn. It’s important to remember that adventure is an exciting part of everyone’s life.
It might be a cliché, but time really does fly. If you are ‘too busy’ to make the effort to spend time with your children while they are young and growing up, you might well look back in later life and find they are now ‘too busy’ with their own lives to spend time with you. You might wonder how it could have been different! Avoid the pain of regret and commit to spending quality time with each member of your family while they are with you. Get to know the people you share your life with.