When we created this site we wanted to build a place where parents could go to learn about efficient, minimal solutions for their children and their families. As this site continues to develop, we are going to discuss designs that are space saving, products that are cost savings, and just general ways to streamline the day to day life for your family. But all of this would be for nothing if we also didn’t spend a few minutes talking about the one thing we hear most from busy parents, “I just want to spend more quality time with my kids.”
We are all busy. Life just gets bogged down with work, school, play dates, house cleaning, laundry, taxes, grocery shopping, picking up the dry cleaning, and every other small task that just clutters up our calendars. We also can have an extremely strong desire to spend time with our kids. And not just any time. We want quality time! We want those moments that our children will remember for the rest of their lives the same way you remember things about your parents or family members.
So how do we add this quality time while also being mature, responsible adults who pick up their dry cleaning? Below is a list of techniques to create more quality time with your kids and to possibly improve the time you are already spending with them. We are not experts and we will never claim to know more than anyone else. These are just some simple ideas that work in our lives that we feel we can pass on to you.
Integrate Your Children Into Your Chores
“Honey, we will play that game just as soon as Daddy get’s back from running some errands.”
How many times have we said this. And I get it…kids can be a pain in the butt when you are trying to get things done. They walk slow, they complain, they are temperamental, and you know you can just get all these things done faster if you do them alone. But here is the thing…these can be opportunities for quality times with your kids.
I say this because one of my all-time, greatest memories from my childhood was going to the hardware store and lumber yard with my father and grandfather when I was about 5 years old. We would look at all the different tools and I would help pick out the different pieces of wood. We would then load them up in the car and it was my job to help hold the wood down as drove back to the house or job site or wherever.
As an adult, do I really think I helped out at all? Absolutely not. I was probably a little anchor that made the whole process take longer and it would have been much easier to leave me at home. But I don’t remember what TV shows I liked when I was 5 or what my favorite toy was. I don’t even remember what my kindergarten teacher’s name was. But I do remember those trips to the hardware store and always think of my father and grandfather whenever I smell freshly cut lumber.
“Life isn’t about the destination but the journey that gets us there.”
I firmly believe that the best mode of transportation in this world is walking. It is natural. We don’t burn any fossil fuels when walking. People don’t get “walk rage” the same way they get “road rage” so ultimately the stress level is way down. We exercise and release a ton of positive feelings just by moving our bodies a bit. If you are with your family you can all walk and talk to each other without having to focus on the task of driving…this is ideal.
For many, this is an unrealistic option. You may live in a suburban or rural area where things are just far too spaced out to get anywhere without driving. Fear not! The car can be an ideal spot for quality time!
This is especially important for parents of older children. Think about it…if your kids are teenagers, how many times during the day do you sit with them without them having the ability to run to another room. The car is the perfect spot to try and just have a simple conversation with them. So don’t let them wear headphones or bury themselves in their phones. Try playing a little bit of music you both like at a low volume to ease the mood and just see if you can get them to talk about their day. Because over the busy course of the day this might be the best chance to make that happen.
Let Your Kids Draw On You
When I was a kid, there was one game that I absolutely loved playing with my grandmother. In the evenings, she would like to wash her face to remove her makeup before going to bed. Before she did this, she would often let my brother and I take some of her mascara pencils and other bits of makeup and draw whatever we wanted on her face. She would give us 5 minutes to be creative and just have fun! At the end of the day, we almost always made a mess of the makeup and just ended up drawing cat whiskers on her using the mascara pencils, but it was a blast!
This specific idea is clearly not for everyone. But the overall concept is that you can set up a wacky creative activity for your kids to do with you that can only take 5 minutes. Maybe you let them add food coloring to their glass of milk so it will become whatever color they want. Or maybe you howl at the moon with your kids every night before you go to bed.
Either way, these little bursts of wacky creativity are something that always stuck with me from my childhood. Even to this day I cannot smell Noxema face wash without thinking of painting those cat whiskers on my grandmother.
Schedule Play Time in Your Calendar
We take the time to add dentist appointments, meetings with clients, and all these things we don’t want to do into our calendars. And you know what…they get done. Because we have dedicated a certain time in our day to doing that one task. So easily we put our families on the backburner because of things on our schedules or to-do lists. So why not give the same priority to someone you love? Why not schedule a 1-hour block of time on Saturday morning to just play with your kids and don’t let anything stop you from doing it. This is not time for chores or eating or anything else. It’s Playtime! This “Playtime” can be the most important part of the day and you shouldn’t compromise it for anything else.
When You Can’t Be There…Write Your Children Notes
Maybe you are one of those people that spend weeks traveling at a time and don’t get to see your kids. Maybe you have a two-hour commute to work and the kids are asleep when you leave and back in bed by the time you get home. How are you supposed to spend any time with them?
One thing you can do for your kids is to just leave them little notes. This idea came from a story I heard from a friend that worked with Jerry Orbach. For 13 years Jerry was an actor on Law & Order and had to get up at the crack of dawn to go to work. Every morning he would leave a little poem by his wife’s coffee cup just saying that he loved her. She saved every one. After he passed away she was left with this enormous collection of poems and little notes he left her which she later turned into a book. So although Jerry wasn’t there to tell his wife he loved her every morning he still found a way to make that time special for their relationship and something she will remember forever.
So maybe you slip a little note saying “hi” in their lunch box or leave a post-it note on their door before you leave with a silly picture you drew. You can also just get some googly eyes and stick them on any object with a little quote bubble telling them that you hope they have a wonderful day. There is clearly no replacing you being there, but this is a small gesture that could go a long way to telling your kids that you love them.