It’s hard enough to find time to do anything when you’re a parent, and you work hard, but spending quality time together can be mission virtually impossible. We live in an age where it’s all too common to be rushed off your feet, and before you know it, days have turned into months. If you’re desperate for more family time or you can’t even remember the last time you did something fun or had a weekend devoted entirely to the kids, now is the time to make some changes. If you’re not getting enough quality time, here are some ideas that may come in handy.
Scheduling and planning
Nobody wants to spend their entire life looking at spreadsheets or operating according to a calendar, but it’s really useful to use a diary or an app to organise your life and plan some downtime. No doubt you’ve got work meetings and appointments at the dentist in your diary, but have you got any days or weekends blocked out for a night away with your other half or a day out with the kids? It’s a sad reality that we often don’t give ourselves enough time to do things we actually want to do. If you’re keen to change this, now is the time to download an app or get the diary out, put your heads together and start planning. If you’ve got free time, don’t fill it up with mundane tasks or offer to do overtime at every opportunity. Go to the cinema after school or take a trip to the pool when you get home. Even if you just have a kick around in the garden or you make the effort to sit down and have dinner and then play some games or watch a DVD, you’ll be spending time together.
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Adapting your home
It sounds extreme to suggest making wholesale changes to your home or even looking for a family friendly new house, but have you ever thought about how your home or your living arrangements affect the amount of time you spend together? Modern houses are often geared towards family life, but if you have an old home, you may find that even when everybody is at home, you don’t see the kids for hours on end. If you’re cooking dinner or doing the washing up and the children are watching TV, playing or painting in the living room or playroom, you’re going to have minimal interaction. If this scenario sounds familiar, there are ways to make your home more suited to family life. You could consider knocking walls through to create an open plan kitchen-diner or take steps to make your rooms more versatile. If you’ve got room in the kitchen, for example, you can create distinctive areas, which enable you to chat and catch up, help the kids with their homework, cook and chill out together in one space.
Making the most of your time
We often complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day, but when you have time together, are you making the most of it? If you’ve got afternoons or weekends free, make the most of the time you have. Don’t spend all your time doing DIY or frantically cleaning the house or washing the car. Get out and do stuff, make memories and enjoy spending time together. You don’t have to go to a theme park or stay in a holiday cottage on the beach every time you’ve got a Saturday free, but it’s so important to have fun and take advantage of opportunities. Many parents worry about money, and it can be expensive to keep kids entertained, but there are lots of free activities out there. Get your bikes out, go for a walk, take a bat and ball or a football to the park, invite some friends over for a movie night and have a look online for child-friendly events and festivals in your local area.
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Learning to say no
Are you one of those people who finds it virtually impossible to say no? If so, you may find that your precious leisure time is eaten up pretty quickly. It’s great to help out at work, babysit for your sister or take the kids to parties and after-school clubs once in a while, but don’t feel bad about saying no sometimes. If you’ve been dreaming of a lie-in at the weekend or you’ve been looking forward to your weekly date night or a catch up with your friends after work, don’t give up on those plans unless you absolutely have to. If you’ve got a family crisis on your hands and somebody is in desperate need of assistance, then by all means, cancel those plans, but otherwise, have some time to yourself. You shouldn’t feel pressured into working late every night or feel guilty if the kids miss a swimming class because you want to take them to the zoo or you’ve got friends visiting.
Being more organised
Most of us tend to waste a fair bit of time. Being more organised can free up more time and enable you to use those precious hours more constructively. Plan what you’re going to do in advance and try and eliminate time-consuming tasks around the house or get them done as quickly as possible. If it takes an age to get around the supermarket and this eats into your weekend, for example, go online, add your shopping list to your basket and then choose a suitable delivery slot. This is just one example of getting rid of those niggling jobs that tend to take up valuable time.
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Do you worry that you don’t spend enough quality time together as a family? Do you wish you had more hours in the day to catch up with the kids or devote more time to your partner? Time is a luxury for many of us, but there are ways of maximising time and ensuring you make the most of it. Hopefully, you’ll find this guide helpful and you won’t be chasing your tail any longer.
Let me know what you think of these tips down in the comments and please do offer up tips of your own… See you online @dadvworld