I’ve written a few posts about taking time to slow down and spending quality time together with my kids. In this post I would like to share how we as a family spend time together and how we spend quality one-to-one time with each of our three kids.
One of reasons, I make sure I make time to connect with my kids is that that life can get busy and we can get caught up in all the little and big things that happen during the day, the week, the month. We forget that the most important people in our lives are not getting our attention in meaningful ways and we are not allowing ourselves any downtime so we can feel rushed, stressed, busy, and cranky.
Rachel Macy Stafford, The Hands Free Mama, has inspired me and helped me find ways to connect with my family. Her writing is brave and honest and it has helped me identify ways to let go of distractions and be present with my family. I highly recommend checking out her blog and reading her books Hands Free Mama, Hands Free Life and Only Love Today.
I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Rachel speak at a Girls on the Run Brunch. She is warm and friendly. I left with a full heart and motivated to make more time to connect with my family.
One of the most impactful changes I have made, thanks to Rachel, is setting time to plug in my phone and be away from it. I usually do this in the mornings between 5am and 7:45am, when the kids and I are getting ready. My goal is to not pickup my phone from the charger until we are headed out the door. Sometimes, I have to check carpool text updates but I don’t check my mail or social media during that time.
Another block of time I would like to be away from my phone is when the kids get home from school. Heather Miller calls this block of time Prime Time Parenting. She suggests parents focus “exclusively on parenting for a two-hour block, rather than parenting haphazardly by doing other things, like constantly checking your phone. By better utilizing time, parents can have quality time with their kids and also time for themselves…Parenting nonstop isn’t the answer” (Miller, 2018).
Family Read Alouds
One of the ways my family likes to spend time together is reading together. My youngest loves to be read to. I noticed that when I start reading to one child, slowly the whole family ends up gathered to hear the story. Two years ago, we started a family read aloud time. Each evening before bed we gathered, just like the old days before, TV’s, tablets, and mobile phones, to hear a story together. The read aloud time became our daily shared experience and allowed the kids to have screen free time before bed. We are currently listening to the Audible book of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.
The photo above shows the books the kids are currently reading. I am very much enjoying that my teen is reading books that I enjoyed reading and that we get to discuss them. I love that I have been able to share cherished stories from my childhood with my kids and that through them I have found new authors and books to enjoy.
The kids love to play games and we are finally beyond Candyland and Snakes and Ladders. For awhile, I said “no” to playing games because I just couldn’t find the energy to fake interest in another round of Candyland. The kids are a little older and we found some new games–family game time on again. Just yesterday we received the game, Latice, as a gift and we had a fun time learning to play it. It will become one of our favorites.
Our favorite games are:
- Monopoly (Nintendo Edition)
- Ravensburger Labyrinth for kids and adults
- Yahtzee & Uno
- Super Mario Chess
- Apples to Apples
As the kids have gotten older my husband and I have made an effort to spend time with each of them individually. He and I have also started to make time to be together away form the kids. I am not going to lie, it is really lovely to have left the days of babies and toddlers behind. We get to enjoy early morning running dates on the mountain behind our home and lunches together during the week.
We each spend time with the kids in different ways. My youngest loves to spend the entire weekend following his dad around. He’s always willing to accompany him on errands and with work around the house. They have fun playing Fifa soccer and swimming. He and I like to spend time together reading in the mornings before school. We get in at least 20-30 minutes of quality one-to-one time in the morning.
My daughter and I have been spending three mornings a week running together. She joined the cross country team and I am a volunteer coach. I’ll be around as long as she welcomes my presence. The two of us also like to spend time together doing art & crafts and shopping. She is my shopping partner and we often make a day of it by going out to lunch together on a weekend day. She and her dad have a breakfast Sunday tradition, 1 or 2 times a month they go out to a new breakfast place. On those mornings, I try to make a fun breakfast for the boys.
My oldest son is a teen. He and my husband have fun buying and selling on Offer Up. He has also always had deep interests and we often go on outings related to his interests like, a new museum exhibit. We are big Marvel movie and Star Wars fans. We often spend time together watching movies but that’s changing as he’s beginning to make plans with friends.
It is bittersweet to have older kids. We enjoy being able to hike, run, watch movies and share books together but the time seems fleeting. They’ll be out of the house before we know it so we have to make these days and years with them count. I don’t want them to remember having a distracted or tired mama. I want them to have memories of us doing the things we love together.