It’s been a hectic work week, and as you look at squeezing in unfinished work tasks between cleaning the house and chores, finding time to spend with your little one just makes you feel even more stressed, doesn’t it?
Or have you just got back home late again — having missed everything since morning-forehead-kisses as you rushed out — and now, bubba’s sleepy and you know they have playschool tomorrow...
Doesn’t it make you feel even more stressed knowing that your child deserves more attention? First off, says Esther Lai, family life educator and life coach: “Throw out the guilt. Don’t waste time and energy on guilt over the fact that you are working. Make the best of your resources to feel the joy of being together.”
Only have time to see junior for half an hour after you’ve eaten and before they must go to bed? Share dessert, listen to them over some ice cream you’ve brought home for an after-dinner treat; or share a packet of chips or dried fruit as a snack while you re-pack your bag or prep for the next day. And while your hands are buzzing away, let your ears do the real work of listening to junior…
Lai offers five more suggestions (we’re sure you can add to this list):
“Don’t waste time and energy on guilt over the fact that you are working. Make the best of your resources to feel the joy of being together.”
1) Plan ahead
A small amount of planning goes a long way. Instead of waking up on a weekend wondering what to do and then scouring the internet or reading the newspaper for half the morning before slowly trying to get everyone organised and out of the house, plan it.
During lunch hour sometime in the week, note down a few things that the family would like to do together — an early morning walk or hike, an afternoon bike ride/scootering or a picnic at the beach or a nearby park…
Then each day before you go out, pack some of the things you’ll need somewhere specific that isn’t in your everyday rush out of the door: Food for the picnic? Ground sheets? Check your child’s scooter? Line up all your walking shoes? Then on the day itself, you’ll be ready to go once breakfast is done!
2) Cook together as a family
How about letting the whole family learn a new way of cooking spaghetti (such as in a baking tray/dish); or making sushi instead of splurging on a fancy dinner (and having to shush your child and make sure they behave only in a certain way)? There’s so much fun messing up and cleaning up together and your child will not only enjoy making something that they can then eat, it teaches them a good life skill.
Tip: Use disposable tablecloths that you can roll up and throw away. And yes, perhaps save this for a weekend.
Three more cool bonding ideas coming right up…
3) Play games over the whole week
Don’t have one-and-a-half hours to spare on a weekday? Play boardgames over several days. Monopoly, Risk or The Game of Life can be played in instalments — just keep the board and cards out (and safely to one side (or under the sofa, for instance) and continue the next day. You could take a picture to make sure no one cheats (and quiz your child to keep their memory sharp!).
You’re playing Pictionary, Uno or Taboo? Put the cards on a tray as you play and when you have to stop, move it to a shelf — it’s easy access and easy to continue the game.
4) Movie nights
Again, taking some time to prepare and plan a movie night. Go through your DVD collection for your favourites, or rent an old favourite (or buy it).
On movie night, buy a bottle of soda and dispense it in smaller cups, and buy or make some popcorn (which should not take more than half an hour). Want flavoured popcorn? Add a little grated cheese, or drizzle on a little warm honey. Then switch on the aircon/fan and turn off the lights, huddle on the sofa and cue the movie in your own home mini-cinema.
“Be creative — even a chore like car washing can be a bonding activity...”
5) Treasure hunts
Need to cook/clean/do some work, yet your young kid wants you to play? Buy some candies and hide them, then set your kid to find them. That’ll keep them occupied while you are busy preparing a meal. Give them clues (or tell them “hot” or “cold”) every now and then. Just make sure you remember where you put that stuff.
Remember — maintaining your work-life balance doesn’t mean the time is split evenly: There will be times when your family needs more attention and times when your career demands more of your energy.
Be flexible, evaluate and readjust if you need to. Be creative — even a chore like car washing can be a bonding activity since your little will love getting to play with water PLUS helping mummy!
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