At 6pm, you send one last e-mail before rushing out of the office. By 7pm, you’re home and having dinner with the family, but you sneak the occasional peek at your phone. Then your kid utters, “No phone, please, Mummy!” Without realising it, you’ve been shoehorning work-related e-mails into your family time.
In an ideal world, you’d spend fun, quality time playing with your kids but the truth is, most mums have bills to pay, work to catch up on and laundry to do. Yet, we all know that spending quality time with your children is crucial to their growth and development.
So here’s how to set aside time for your child, and make those precious moments extra special.
1. Be present
When you’re at work five days a week, it’s tempting to cram too many activities into the limited time you have with your child. Usually, you’ll find yourself going through the activities without truly connecting with your child — by slowing down to show them and explain situations around them. Children feel special when they sense that their parents show an active interest in everything they do.
2. Switching gears
The big challenge for mothers who work part-time is trying to keep the two worlds separate, especially since they have qualms about letting down their children or colleagues. One of the ways to overcome this is to initiate a “switch-over” moment between your work and family life.
One mum shares, “On my journey home, when I get past a certain roundabout, I stop thinking about the office and start thinking about what the children have been doing. From then on, I’m in mummy mode.”
For another mother, she changes out of her work clothes and into something more casual before leaving the office, so she’ll arrive home ready to paint and get messy with the children.
3. Divide and conquer
If you think managing your time was difficult with one child, wait till you add a second or third to the mix. For Myrah Hamid, a teacher, and mum to Sirah, 15 months, and Saiful, 3, spending quality time with two children at once was impossible.
Pairing one child to one parent (or caregiver) can help prevent sibling tensions and save your sanity. As different children have different interests, giving each one short, separate amounts of your time is better than trying to pay attention to both at the same time. This way, each child takes turns to enjoy one-on-one quality time with mummy.
4. Manage your time wisely
At last, you have the whole weekend to be The World’s Best Mummy, so the pressure’s on. But don’t let your kids dominate everything, nor should you spend the entire weekend doing chores.
Find ways to organise your tasks and give yourself deadlines, whether it’s building Lego castle with your child or hanging your laundry out to dry. This way, you won’t feel like you’re neglecting your child.