How to Spend More Quality Time With Your Kids When You Work Outside the Home
Though it seems we still have a long way to go in the fight for equal rights, it is 2017 and women sure have a lot more opportunity to choose how we want to live our lives than we did 50 years ago — especially when it comes to raising our families. Gone are the days of having to choose between family and work and so many of us are walking the careful balance of a successful career and healthy children. Meanwhile, others are working our butts off just to get ahead. While it's empowering to be able to work, that can take us away from our families and lead to feelings of guilt.
But seriously, screw that noise. You're working because you care about your kids, and just because you work doesn't mean you can't have a strong, loving bond with your children.
Remember that quality matters
You might not have as many hours in the day with your kids as other moms do, but that doesn't mean you can't connect with your children in a positive, meaningful way. Remember that it's quality (not quantity) that counts.
- Unplug. Seriously — turn off your phone, step away from your computer and enjoy your evenings with your kids. Giving your child your full attention is very important for bonding.
- Hug. Every child, no matter how old, needs a mama's touch. Whether you have toddlers, teens or kids in between, spend some time every day getting close.
- Listen. Let your kids do the talking when you are with them. Whether your teen is venting about a teacher at school or your preschooler is telling you about dragons and dinosaurs, take the time to listen.
Do chores together
Doing chores together doesn't sound fun, but it serves many purposes. The house needs cleaning. You need their help, and you also want to squeeze in some time with them. Make it a game — you can clean the house (or wash the car or weed the garden) together, getting it done quickly and efficiently. The rewards? You can chat along the way, and when you are done, you can all go out for ice cream.
If it's feasible, consider bringing in a little help. A full-time nanny might not be necessary, but how about a more cost-effective mother's helper? A mother's helper can pitch in with the laundry, help with your chores or prepare meals, freeing up some extra time for you to spend with your kids. Wouldn't you rather be playing catch in your backyard with your little ones instead of folding socks?
Look for opportunities to create rituals and traditions with your kids. This is how memories are built and relationships are bonded. It can be something simple, such as going for donuts together on Sunday morning or folding laundry together and chatting on Saturday afternoons. You can also create more elaborate traditions. Maybe you sew a quilt together with your daughter on the weekend, take all the kids out to a new restaurant on a designated day each month or go on a camping trip as a family at the start of every season.
Don't sweat the small stuff
Dishes are in the sink. The garbage needs to be taken out. Your child just spilled a glass of milk on the floor. And you are about to snap. You just worked eight (or nine or 10) long hours, and you can't take it. Take a deep breath or leave the room for a few minutes to relax. Parenting is stressful, whether you are a working mom or not. Don't sweat the small stuff and try to let minor problems roll off your back. The more peaceful your house can be, the better it is for you — and your kids.
Originally published July 2013. Updated June 2017.