I’m busy, you’re busy; we’re all just busy. Working, cooking, cleaning, ironing, shopping, washing, eating, driving, tidying…the list is endless.
And if you’ve got kids, then you’re busy doing a whole heap of things for them on top of your own.
People often say to me ‘How do you do it?’ (‘Do it’ meaning how do I work a 40-plus hour week, look after two kids and establish a blog, as well as doing all of the above household chores).
Well, I’m not going to lie, it’s hardly a walk in the park. I sacrifice a lot of things I love just to get my work done (namely having a lie-in and upcycling interiors). The other trick is to build up a good support network if things don’t go to plan – relying on neighbours, other parents and the extended family. But all this comes at a price: guilt.
To combat the guilt feelings I do my best to make time for the kids – we’ll usually always spend Saturday night together watching a movie, and we also try and fit in some sort of game together.
But it’s tough – and after-school clubs and activities often get in the way.
We spend less than 40 minutes family time together a day!
According to a recent survey from Hollywood Bowl, most families feel the same and spend less than 40 minutes a day together.
And even then, parents face a battle against technology, with more than nine in ten admitting the little time they have to spend with their children usually sees one – or all of them – distracted by the TV, computer games, mobile phones or tablets.
Almost a third of parents actually blame their family’s reliance on technology as a reason for the lack of quality time they get to spend together.
And more than three in ten say their kids would rather play
computer games than have a family conversation or take part in a family activity.
Top ten barriers to having quality time with a family
- Household chores
- Long, anti-social working hours
- Children’s homework
- Children’s extra-curricular activities
- Everyone in the family is too busy on their phone/tablet or computer
- School timetables
- The children would rather play their computer games
- The children would rather watch TV
- Anti-social working hours
- The children would rather go out to their friend’s house
As children grow up fast, I’ve come up with my own Top 15 ways of sneaking in more ways to spend time with the family.
- Eat out. Expensive you might say, but websites such as vouchercodes or restaurants such as the Toby Carvery will help keep costs down. Just do your research and plan ahead.
- If the weather’s good, head out for a walk or a cycle ride together – best of all, it’s free!
- Play a board game – this one’s good if the weather is terrible. Games kids love include Charades, Hungry Hippos, Singstar and a favourite of ours – The Laughing Game (where you have to do or say things to try and make other people laugh) – and gain points.
- Unleash your inner child with a visit to the park – get on the roundabout and see if you can go higher on the swings or faster on the roundabout, much to the amusement of your offspring.
- Cook a meal – you need to cook and they need to eat, so why not get them to help out with cooking and you can bond over Bolognese…
- Go bowling – just because it’s fun!
- How about a swimming session? Most public swimming pools offer family fun sessions at the weekend with inflatables for them to climb over – otherwise swim with them and sneak in some exercise.
- Speaking of exercise, try your hand at a game of badminton, tennis or squash. Who knows, you might pick up a new skill or hobby.
- Help with the tidying. We’re always telling our kids to tidy their bedrooms, but why not join in? They’ll appreciate it and you get to have a nice clean room.
- Build something – anything. A sandcastle, a new construction out of Lego, a model plane. Let that imagination run wild and come up with something unique. In life, we’re often limited by rules in life, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to say ‘Anything goes’.
- Make your own cinema room – draw the curtains, get the popcorn in and warn the neighbours you’re turning up the telly. Have a list of must-see movies ready (that are suitable for all the family) to avoid debating for half hour on what to watch – talking from experience here.
- Get decorating. Have they always wanted to change the colour of their walls? Get them involved by letting them do a section or wall – but put down plenty of sheets first to avoid spillage.
- Take them food shopping (bear with me on this)….like most parents I dreaded the food shop with the kids, but now I turn it into a game to make it fun. Give your kids their own list of things to get and return to the trolley and they’ll feel like they are contributing. It’s better than the alternative – hanging off the trolley saying they’re bored. Tailor the game to younger/older children and perhaps treat them if the job has been done well.
- Make a movie! This one is great fun – and can be very educational. They can do the first half themselves (coming up with the plot/storyline) and depending on their age, write a script, get the costumes – and you can film it. There’s a lot of apps out there that you can use to shoot and edit film that will make it look great. Then, when finished you and the kids can sit down and watch your creation.
- Play ‘Guess the spot’ – this is a great game for indoors or outdoors – give your kids a camera and let them take close-up pictures of items. Other family members have to guess what the item is and where it was taken. You can play in teams or as ‘every man for himself’!
And if you’ve run out of ideas, hand the decision over to your kids – sometimes you’ll be surprised at what ideas they come up with!