A Walk in the Park: 4 Ways to Spend More Time with Your Kids

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It may not feel like it when you're running late again, your youngest can't find his shoes and your eighth-grader just told you about a school project that is due today, but childhood zooms by quickly. If you don't find time to spend with your kids today, you may miss out on some memorable moments. Even if you're schedule is downright insane, these four tips will help you squeeze in a little more time with your favorite people.

Do Chores together

Including your children in chores provides an opportunity to spend time together. Take your kids with you when you run to the post office or the hardware store and let them help you around the house. Even small children can help with preparing meals, weeding the garden, loading the dishwasher or fixing a leaky pipe.

While they may not be doing much of the work themselves, simply letting them hold tools for you or hand you things you need can make them feel helpful and involved. The impact on your schedule will be minimal since you're checking things off your to-do list, and kids are usually more than happy to feel like part of the “grown-up” world by helping. You might even be surprised by their ingenuity, how fast they pick up on a process or idea, or how much they’re capable of handling on their own.

Get Out of the Car

Americans have gotten quite used to driving everywhere. As a result, we frequently drive even when we don't need to. If one of your kids has a play date in your neighborhood, walk them to it rather than driving. This will make the trip take just a bit longer and give you time to talk and laugh together. If you have young children, investing in a stroller can be a very good investment.

Graco is a popular brand, but there are other options out there like Pali that might be more to your tastes. If you live in an area where you must drive, turn off the radio and use car time to talk or sing together. Find ways to get more time in the car with your child, like driving them to school rather than putting them on the bus. This is a simple way to sneak in extra bonding time.

Have Meals Together

They say that food brings people together, and it’s definitely true. You probably hear this advice a lot, but it's important to eat dinner together as a family. Taking some quality time to sit down as a family and just be together can do wonders for family relationships. There is no better way than food to get everyone to move away from their activities, be present, and interact with each other. It's best to do this daily, but if you haven’t ever done this before or if your schedule simply won’t allow for every day, it is perfectly fine to start with doing just one dinner a week.

Another thing to remember is that the meal you share doesn't have to be dinner. Breakfast and lunch together work just as well, as do healthy snacks in the evening. For some families it’s easiest to get together around the breakfast table before all the hectic business of the day has begun. If you work close to where your kids go to school then lunch could be the best option for you. Whatever meal you share, ask family members to turn their cell phones off or leave them in another room during the meal so you can talk to each other without distraction or interruption.

Have a Pajama Party

Establishing a bedtime routine with your kids is another great way to spend a little time with them every day. Of course, having that routine established won’t help very much if you don’t make it a point to be involved. If you have younger children, then maybe change your kids into their pajamas and then play a board game, read a story or engage in another quiet activity every night before bed.

This will help your kids wind down and give them a structured routine that makes bedtime fun rather than a chore. It also allows you to spend a little special time with them every single day. If your children are older they probably don’t need your help getting ready for bed anymore, but having a moment of family time before you turn in for the night is still doable. Playing a quick round of cards or a board game is something that almost every family can manage to do together, no matter the age of the children.

Fitting family time into your schedule is difficult but worthwhile. You and your kids will both cherish the memories you make together and the special times you share. Starting family time early also gets your kids into the idea before the teen years when it is harder to convince them you're worth hanging out with. Establishing family traditions early and maintaining them creates closer, happier families.

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