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Spend time with your child (without it feeling like a chore)

Although the days with small children can feel endless, the years fly by. Use these tips to make the most of the time you spend together.

Did you know that some experts recommend parents spend at least two to four hours with their children each day, yet the majority of parents are barely able to squeeze in 10 minutes of quality time with their kids? The reality is, time is precious but often finding time to spend with your child is a challenge for busy moms and dads.

The 8 pm news hasn’t even begun, but you’re too tired to watch it – who can stay awake that late? Carpooling, lunches, after-school activities, dinner, homework, bath time, and bedtime – all while working your own job (or jobs) and dealing with the various responsibilities of life. You only have enough energy to drag yourself to bed so you can wake up early and repeat the pattern. Each day feels like a week with small children, and each week feels like a month. Yet, with each passing birthday, the years appear to fly by at a breakneck pace.

In the blink of an eye, five-month-olds become five-year-olds and then 15-year-olds. The “other” biological clock that young couples must contend with is the relentless march of time that transforms babies into adults. Every day offers new growth, new milestones, and new awe, but the demands of parenthood frequently hinder us from thoroughly enjoying the exquisite nuances of our children’s childhood years.

When you consider how much time your children spend at daycare, school, asleep, at friends’ houses, with babysitters, at camp, and otherwise involved with activities that do not include you, the remaining minutes become incredibly precious. Although we don’t know how to slow time, we have some suggestions on how to maximise the time you spend with your children.

Stop running on autopilot mode

When you’re overburdened with duties, it’s easy to fall into autopilot mode with your children. But if your mind wanders during the precious times you’ve worked so hard to protect, you’ve lost your children’s childhood just as surely as if you hadn’t spent any time with them at all. Instead, attempt a “parenting meditation”, in which you focus on seeing, hearing, and understanding your children and truly being impressed by what you’ve created – living, breathing miracles of nature who are learning like sponges and growing like weeds.

Take walks in your pyjamas

With small children, the hour before bedtime can be frantic. A nightly PJ walk is a great way to help kids relax. It will not only provide your children with a peaceful, quiet time to decompress, but it will also provide you with valuable times with them that would otherwise be lost to television. Pyjamas are the secret to pyjama walks. Prepare the kids for bed by brushing their teeth, washing their faces, and putting on their PJs. Then put them in their stroller, trike, or sneakers and take a stroll around your garden. No food on the way (their teeth have already been brushed!; no kicking a soccer ball along the way; no lively chats till tomorrow. It may take a few laps, but your kids will be in a fresh-air trance and ready for bed by the time you go back inside.

Eat together as a family

Dinner at home with the whole family is a great way to bond, but your kids will be even more excited to sit down together when your dinner has a theme. Taco night, pizza night, Chinese night, egg night, or pancake night are all options. Once a week, transform your kitchen into a sushi bar or an Italian bistro. When children are excited and having a good time, they are more likely to engage in conversation and share their news at the table.

Fix things, together

Never fix a leaking faucet, change a tyre, paint the fence, or replace the furnace filter without the presence of your children. Home remodelling projects are a terrific opportunity to spend time with them and teach them about tools and life. The lounge, kitchen, and playroom can all be used as classrooms for learning how things operate and how to repair them. Give your child a flashlight and explain the task you’re doing.

Play and laugh together

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 immerse yourself in your children’s world. Why? First, your kids will “kick your butt,” as they put it; this is one activity where you’ll never have to let them win, and it’s healthy for children to see their parents as human and vincible on occasion. Second, your lack of dexterity will be met with laughter. Finally, certain virtual reality games have some redeeming qualities since they simulate real-world activities such as table tennis, bowling, baseball, skiing, and dancing (which are much better than games where you blow each other up). Set time limitations, though, lest their virtual realities take over their physical realities.  

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