time with kids

How Can I Make the Most of the Little Time I Have With My Kids?

As we return to normalcy following the pandemic, our schedules might fill up quickly. While we were possibly overwhelmed with the amount of time we spent at home, we might find ourselves having the opposite issue as things open up again. When our lives become busy between work, maintaining a relationship with our parenting partner, keeping up with household chores, etc., we might worry that we spend little time with our kids. As kids grow older, they will likely become more independent, spending less and less time with us in pursuit of their interests.

We might wish that we had more time to spend with our kids, yet our schedules fill up with little room for change. When we have only a small amount of time to spend with our kids each day, we can focus on the quality of that time rather than getting hung up on the quantity of time. 

When Are the Important Moments?

We may want to be there for the most critical moments in our child’s life. However, we might not make every baseball game, band recital, or karate tournament. We might feel like we are missing the most significant moments as our kids grow up without us around. We worry that we are not there for our kids when they need us the most.

However, we might need to redefine what are the critical moments. The crucial moments are when we are there—genuinely present and engaged—with our kids. Sometimes, the drive home from a baseball game is more important than the game itself. The lessons we can teach our kids during these times of achievement or failure, being a graceful winner or how to learn from mistakes, can stick with our kids for a lifetime. 

Where to Focus Our Energy the Most

We might drive our kids back from the game or greet them following a theater performance. We are present for them before they go to bed or get ready for the day. Sometimes, these little moments can mean the most—reflecting on the day before bed or getting ready as the day begins. If each of us is pressed for time and we want to focus our energy on the most critical moments, we can be mindful of how just nine minutes per day can greatly impact a child’s life.

9 Minutes Per Day

Our time might be limited, yet we can likely make at least nine minutes a priority to check in with our kids. Whether we call, text, leave a note or see them in person, we can try to make our presence felt by focusing these crucial nine minutes each day:

  • Three minutes during our child’s morning: Maybe we wake them up and help them start their routines, or we talk with them over breakfast before they leave for school. If we drop our kids off for school, these moments can be an excellent time for us to connect with our kids.
  • Three minutes after our child comes home from school: The transition from school to home is critical during a child’s life. They might have some exciting news to share with us, had a bad day, or avoid us following a disciplinary issue. Either way, these three minutes are critical. Although we might not be present when our kids come home, we might want to ask them to contact us when they get home, or we can get in touch by calling or texting. Even a quick handwritten note each day can remind our kids that we are thinking of them.
  • Three minutes before bedtime: As we wind down for the day and settle into bed, we might go to bed with worries on our minds or feeling peaceful as we process the day’s events. The time before we go to bed is essential and can set us up for a restful night’s sleep or leave us anxious about starting the next day. Kids need to feel safe and secure to sleep restfully.

What Do Kids Need to Hear in These Moments

As the humdrum and routine of daily life goes past, we operate on auto-pilot. Conversations might be reduced to “How are you?”, “Fine”, “That’s good,” and so on. A meaningful conversation does not need to be long or drawn out; however, we need to be present and actively listen. What our kids need most from us is to know that they are special, loved, cared for, and accepted. While we might not have all the time we wish with our kids, we can make the most of these critical moments in our child’s daily life.

When we have little time to spend with our kids due to a busy schedule and other obligations, we might feel guilty about not being there for our kids. We might feel disconnected from them yet feel as though we have no choice. While we might need to prioritize our time, sometimes, we have no choice but to be away from home for longer than we would like. We can focus on making our presence known during the little time we do have by being fully attentive, making eye contact, and reminding our kids that we are proud of them. If your child is engaged in problematic behaviors like addiction, cutting, or promiscuity, or seems withdrawn due to an underlying mental health concern, like trauma or depression, we are here to help. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here to help parents get their kids back from the brink of danger from whatever challenges they face. Call us today at (303) 443-3343.

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