It’s 9:30 pm, and you finally have a minute to sit on the couch and reflect on the day’s chaos. Everything you did displays like a fast-forward reel of a million events. The morning was rushed with getting ready before school and work. The evening wasn’t any better. There are dirty dishes in the sink and clothes everywhere. You don’t even remember the last time you cleaned. The weekend ahead is getting closer, but then you realize you have soccer practice, dinner at your mom’s, and groceries. Even though you see them every day, you miss your family. Being a working parent is tough, especially when you know you don’t get enough quality time together with your kids. Prioritizing family time is important and can be done with a little shift in mindset and intentional planning.
Having dinner together while staring at your screens doesn’t count as family time. Please know, I get it. Many nights you’ll find my boys staring at Pokoyo for them to eat versus throwing dinner on the floor and saying they’re done. Try setting a few nights aside with a no screen time rule. As your family gets more used to this change, add more days until screen time has been omitted from the dinner table. This is an easy way to add family time to something you already do.
Another way to prioritize family time is to add some music to bath night. Bathtime dance parties are a good time in our house. We rock out to Sesame Street music and have fun together. This obviously won’t work if you have older kids, so try adding some flare to another common event in your house. Try adding a game night after dinner one night a week or going for a walk. Quality family time doesn’t need to be costly or grand. It’s the connection you are creating that counts.
Weekends get booked quickly. On Monday, you have a free weekend, and it’s completely filled by Wednesday. Try hard to schedule family time once a month. Take an entire weekend and block it off for just you and your family. The next step is to create a bucket list. We make bucket lists for every season. Our bucket list is a constant on our fridge and something we look forward to. It’s easy to think about having a family weekend but never schedule it. Having something scheduled on your calendar with a list of ideas will help make it happen.
We hard schedule date nights, too. The parents are part of the family unit, and if you don’t have your cups full, you can’t be expected to give your all to your kids. My husband and I aim for four a month, but we are fortunate with childcare. Once every other month might be what is best for you. However you can, make sure you schedule time for yourself, your partner, and your kids. Don’t let this time be another thing that slips due to your busy lives. I promise the dishes won’t get any dirtier, but your heart will be happier.
Prioritizing family time does not need to be extravagant. Please don’t assume traveling means a trip to Florida every year. The main purpose is to go somewhere with your family. We live in an easy state to explore awesome areas in just a day. If it’s sunny, make it a beach day. Is it a bitterly cold day in January? Go to a family fun mall on the east side of the state. If traveling outside of the mitten is feasible, do it! Shared experiences are good for every member of your family, and traveling together makes it that much better. We go to our favorite beach town every summer for a week. It’s our favorite event each year. Even though it’s the same place, we do something new to change it up and have another memorable experience to cherish.
Staycations are another easy way to travel. Book a hotel, have a swim-filled weekend and eat somewhere new for dinner. You could even pick a new destination each year and make it as grand or simple as possible. As long as you are together and outside of the normal day-to-day, you are making memories.
Family time is crucial and can easily be missed when you are a working parent. Making it a priority means accepting other things will have to come last, and your family time comes first. It sounds scary or intangible, but prioritizing family time is imperative. The days are long, but the years are short, and you will never regret spending more time with your family.