Most parents have some sense of guilt about how much time they’re able to spend with their children. For working parents, it can often feel like you and your kids are ships passing in the night. You see your kids briefly in the morning before school and then have an hour or two with them prior to bedtime. Even the weekends are filled with activities and social engagements. You feel overwhelmed, helpless, and, in your darkest moments, like a bad parent.
But you’re not a bad parent. You’re doing your best. You’re trying to provide for your family and the rigors of daily life are simply overwhelming your schedule and masking your true priorities.
If you want to spend more quality time with your kids, you can’t expect it to happen by chance. You have to be intentional about it and create a game plan that makes your children one of your top priorities.
The Importance of Quality Time
We can all agree that spending more time with our children is a good thing. But just how important is it?
According to San Diego State University, children who get regular quality time with their parents are:
- Less likely to have behavioral issues at school or home
- Less likely to participate in risky behaviors (like drug and alcohol use)
- More likely to be emotionally stable and strong
- More likely to be physically healthy
And that’s just the start. As you spend more time with your kids, you’ll find that you have more influence in their lives and that they’re more vulnerable and open with you. This creates space for healthy conversations and stronger connections.
Whether your child is five or 15, a present and engaged parent is important. And while you can’t totally evade your other responsibilities, you can be more intentional about creating time and space to spend with your kids.
4 Ways to Make More Time for Your Kids
For many, the idea of spending more time with your kids feels overwhelming and impractical. Your schedule is already so crunched that you can’t imagine how you’ll create extra hours in the day. But just slow down…and…breathe.
You don’t have to suddenly go from spending two hours per day with your kids to six hours per day. Give yourself grace to gradually shift your schedule and realign your priorities. It takes time, energy, and repetition.
As you begin this shift, here are some tips, tactics, and considerations you can implement to make more quality time with your children a more practical idea.
1. Focus on Short Bursts of Attention
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you need to spend massive chunks of time with your children for it to count. But this simply isn’t true. Quality time isn’t an all or nothing endeavor. According to a statistician at the University of Oxford, quality is always more important than quantity.
To further illustrate this, consider two scenarios:
- Scenario 1: You spend three hours with your children every afternoon. You take them to the park, watch TV together, and even cook dinner together. But for 90 percent of this time together, you’re answering emails, making calls, and scrolling through social media.
- Scenario 2: You spend 30 minutes with your children each morning before school. It’s not a lot of time, but you leave your phone in your bedroom and enter into their world for that half hour.
On the surface, it might appear that the parent spending three hours per day with their children is a “better” parent. However, the 30 minutes of focused attention that the parent provides in scenario two is actually far more impactful.
You don’t need to block off an entire afternoon or evening to spend quality time with your children. Sometimes short bursts of attention are all you need to connect.
2. Invite Your Kids Into Your Life
If your work schedule is crazy, or you have other personal responsibilities that you simply can’t strike off your to-do list, consider inviting your kids into your circle. Here are some examples:
- Need to change the oil on your car? It might take an extra 15 or 20 minutes, but teach your child how to do it.
- Need to go into the office on a Saturday morning for a couple of hours? Ask your child to come with you. Pick up coffee and donuts on the way and give your child an “important” task to complete while you’re completing work assignments.
- Are you a busy teacher who has piles of tests to grade? Let your child help you grade multiple choice tests.
There will always be certain areas of your life that you can’t invite your child into, but look for the ones where it’s easy to bring them along. It’ll be worthwhile and memorable for both of you.
3. Switch to a More Flexible Career
If you’re working 80 hours per week, there isn’t much you can do to spend more time with your children. There aren’t enough waking hours during the week to create meaningful time together. And as hard or financially challenging as it may be to admit, switching to a more flexible career could be the best possible decision.
You’ll have to zero in on the right type of career for your personality, strengths, and financial needs, but real estate is always a good option. It gives you freedom, control, and unlimited earning potential. You work for yourself, make your own schedule, and can make decisions that prioritize your family.
It’s also fairly easy to get into the industry. (Every state is different, but according to RealEstateU, the bulk of the licensing process can be completed online. In the state of Florida, for example, you complete a 63-hour salesperson course and then take the state licensing exam. Once you pass, you find a broker and begin practicing.)
Not cut out for real estate or sales? There are work-from-home opportunities in almost every industry. Whether it’s copywriting, customer service, IT, or even project management, there are more flexible options than ever before.
4. Tell Your Children You Love Them
Children need positive reinforcement and reminders. Even when you aren’t around physically, you can take five minutes to call them and say you love them. Once they get old enough, you can text throughout the day to stay in touch. Little things like this go a long way towards strengthening your relationship, regardless of the circumstances.
Put Your Children First
Children deserve to come first. They won’t always make it easy — and you won’t always feel like it — but your kids need more quality time with their parents. By restructuring your life in both small and significant ways, you can finally give this responsibility the energy it deserves.