It’s astonishing to think that from the day your baby is born you only have 260 SATURDAYS UNTIL THEY ARE FIVE YEARS OLD
According to a report in the Daily Mail published in April 2015 the average British family spends just 34 minutes a weekday with their children. This increases to 1 hour and 37 minutes on weekends. I imagine a study of Australian families in 2017 would show similar results.
Nobody is to blame for this. Our cost of living is so expensive it’s now the norm for both Mum and Dad to work outside of the home. Mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, insurance, rates, school fees, mobile phone plan charges, food and clothing all need to be paid for and generally two incomes are needed just to live day to day. Stranger danger and scheduling mean that the children have to be driven to daycare or school as well as sport or music lessons meaning most households run two cars. When we aren’t at work the washing needs doing, lawns need to be mowed, the house cleaned, food shopping, gardening, cooking meals, preparing lunches – the list goes on and on.
How can we consciously plan to spend more time with the children and still get on top of everything that needs doing?
Here are a few ideas:
- Have some “just us” time: As a parent, try to set aside some “just us” time each day. It might be reading a story before bedtime, colouring in while dinner is cooking, walking around the garden picking flowers for the table or kicking a ball at the park when the dog has a walk.
- Make happy memories: Instead of sitting inside watching TV on a rainy day, get the children to put on their raincoats and wellington boots, grab the umbrellas and run around in the rain jumping in puddles. Come inside, have a nice warm bath and draw pictures of the big raindrops or do some baking together.
- Put down that phone: Easier said than done! Seriously though, put the phone away when you arrive home from work and don’t get it out until the children are in bed. You won’t have missed much that’s going on in the outside world, but will be much more attuned to what is happening within your own family.
- Enlist helpers: Toddlers will want to help with everything and teenagers won’t want to help at all. Toddlers are often happy folding their clothes while you get on with folding everything else in the basket. Negotiate with your teen to put the bins out, wash the car or empty the dishwasher – once these jobs are done you will turn the modem back on!
- Let them know that you are always there for them: Younger children will love to see a note from mum or dad in their lunchbox or get a written invitation to play Lego with you between 7 and 7.30. Send positive texts to older kids just to find out how their test went or just let them know that they are loved. They might not tell their friends, but will be secretly pleased that Mum or Dad are always there for them.
- Make the 260 Saturdays count: Every family is different but work out the best way your family can make the most of your time together. It doesn’t mean you have to plan costly outings, simply invite some other families to the park, spend the day at the beach, make photo memory boards, play board games or build a blanket fort to sleep in.
The days turn into weeks and the weeks into years. Find time to spend together, strengthen your relationship, build trust, make memories and laugh together until your tummy hurts!