Most parents know the tug of feelings that go along with the real issue of spending quality and quantity time with their child. How many times do we wish we could be with our children when we have to work or fulfill other obligations that take us away from them? How many times do we wish for a little 'adult time' when we've just had enough of the daily routine of supervising homework and chores; chauffeuring kids; and attending school and extracurricular activities?
Opinions and beliefs about quantity vs. quality time with kids are sharp; and reflect our struggle to find balance in family life. Whether we work outside the home or not, family life with school-age children is hectic. It's easy to get into a busy schedule that leads us to feel disconnected from our children.
When our schedules and obligations take over, our feelings can guide us to plan a special family activity together. When we feel like we're lost in kiddie world, our feelings can guide us to reconnect with our spouse or nurture our passion in creative or physical pursuits. When difficult feelings guide us to adjust the balance in our lives and the quantity and quality of our time with our child, a few simple steps will put us back in balance.
Allow yourself to have childlike fun. If you've forgotten how, you have the perfect teacher in your child. Let your child guide you through his world of fun. Something he likes will re-ignite that child in you; and then, just go with it.
Plan for fun times together. Put it on the schedule and enjoy the planning and anticipation of a fun family activity. When the time comes, put all of your obligations out of your mind, relax, and have a good time. It helps me to write down my to-do list for afterward to clear my mind.
Take time during the day. If your job allows, take a long lunch once a month and treat your child and yourself to lunch together. If you don't have this kind of flexibility, find ways to let your child know you are thinking about her during the day. You can do lunchbox notes or check in by phone each day.
The key is to find ways to spend fun times together, to laugh and play and reconnect with your child. One of my favorite strategies during extra busy times at work is to schedule the kids in an after-school homework program. When we all get home, we can spend time relaxing together rather than dealing with homework. Find ideas for easy family fun nights that you can plan. But, most of all, just find ways to relax and enjoy spending time with your child on a regular basis. You'll find that feeling of balance in your family life and have fun at the same time.