3 Ways to Give Kids Your Time and Attention While Still Getting Things Done

Some mom bloggers will tell you that you should spend every moment of your energy and time on your kids because they are growing up so quickly that you're going to miss the good stuff if you spend your time cleaning.  I think that sounds lovely and I love spending time with my kids but when our house gets messy, it makes me feel totally out of sorts and that's not good for my kids either.  Order around me creates order and peace in my mind and that makes me a better parent.  I should also add on a side note that I think kids should know how to and be encouraged to play on their own some of the time.  Kids imaginations can soar when they are left alone.

So, what is the happy medium between ignoring them all of the time in order to keep everything perfect and spending all of your time with them and letting everything else fall to shambles?

If you are looking for this kind of balance, here are 3 very clear rules to set for yourself.

1) Dinner time is family time.  In our house other meals can mean some or all of us at the table.  It all depends on who's home at the moment.  Dinner on the other hand is ALWAYS ALL of us.  I've taught the girls that you don't start eating until everyone is sitting at the table.  That way we eat together.  We also do "Best Thing" every night at dinner.  We ask each family member (and any guests), "What is your best thing today?"  "Best Thing" is a chance for each person to say what their favorite moment or activity was that day.  We get some really wonderful answers.  Children as young as about 2 1/2 can participate in "Best Thing" and often even younger.  You can even ask a baby if they are not talking yet too.  It gives everyone a chance to say something... even if it is "Ga!" from the baby.  We also have "dinner and movie night" on Friday nights. Although it isn't as social as sitting at the table together is still special together time of a different kind and it is a family tradition.

2) After school is a time to talk.  I pick up my child at school but this can be done when they get home from the bus too.  When I pick my daughter up we sit in the car once everyone is buckled.  I look in her back pack and she tells me about what is in there whether it be her art or a newsletter or something from her friend.  She shares how her day went and when we've chatted about it for a few minutes then we leave for home.  Another good thing is that by the time we are done talking, most of the cars have already left and so we are not part of the "rush to leave" line of cars all trying to get out of the parking lot all at the same time.

3) I made a "Sandy Hook Elementary Promise" to my kids (even though they *don't* know about the shootings).  When the shootings happened in Newtown, CT, like all parents, I was absolutely devastated.  I asked myself, if that ever happened in my world, what would I wish I had done.  I decided on that day that when my kids ask me to read a short book or play with them I would put down what I was doing (if possible) and do as they asked.  The thing is that this is not an extended amount of time.  I'll read one short book and then return to what I am doing OR I will play with them (fully invested) for 20 minutes.  I tell them I'm putting the timer on and they know I'm going to go back to what I was doing when it dings.  I should add, if I'm not doing anything important then I'll read lots of books or play for a much longer time (with no timer).  The timer and the one book rule is just for those times when something else NEEDS to get done.  This rule keeps me from telling them, "not right now" over and over and over again.

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