How do working moms spend time with kids? This is the money question, right? As working moms, we are really great with keeping our jobs, organizing our schedules, and getting dinner on the table. But, it is so hard for us to put our phones down, and just focus on what matters – our family. Here are 10 tips to spend time with your kids while working at home.
So my blog says on the homepage: Helping working moms create space for what really matters.
And honestly I’ve thought a lot about that statement. How hard is it to focus on the schedule and the routine, but forget to spend time on what really matters. Our families.
I don’t want my kids to look back on their childhood and think that mom was just stressed out all the time, and working all the time full time. I want to change the way I do my schedule so I can have fun with the people that matter.
How do we do that? Let’s figure it out.
- How do working moms spend time with kids?
- 1. Repeat a “fun” activity every month
- 2. Create a memory in 5 minutes
- 3. Put your phone down.
- 4. Don’t rush the bedtime evening routine.
- 5. Take advantage of your commute.
- 6. Don’t wait for a family vacation.
- 7. Be careful about multi-tasking.
- 8. Shift your mindset.
- 9. Be creative with your schedule.
- 10. Make family time work for you.
How do working moms spend time with kids?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a lot of “free time”. Between the work, cooking, housework, commute with drop-offs and pick-ups, daily simple chores, and just making sure the whole family schedule works, there’s not much flexibility for “throwing the phone out and playing with my kids for hours”.
How do you do it? (I’m serious! Tell me in the comments below.)
How do you carve out time with your kids? Do you do Chik-Fil-A dates with each of your kiddos? Do you write cute notes in your kids’ backpacks?
Well, I’m really bad at this. Sorry, for the disclaimer. So, I want to explore this together: How do working moms spend time with kids?
1. Repeat a “fun” activity every month
I listened to a fantastic podcast called “What we need to have more fun” by the Lazy Genius Collective, and I was convicted that I don’t know what “fun” is for my family.
I feel like I’m a fun mom, but do I really know how to put my phone down and just enjoy my family without any schedule?
Kendra Adachi with the Lazy Genius said that “fun” is the combination of PLAY + CONNECTION + FLOW. In short, to create fun for you and your family, you need to find a way to play, and connect with your family, and not interrupt the flow with your schedule and phone.
I think this looks different for every family, so I’ve spent time thinking about how I can create these fun moments for my family on a regular basis.
It’s SO HARD because I’m always checking my phone, ready to move on with the schedule, and thinking about what’s next. Instead, I need to create tiny moments that have flow and connection and play.
For me, I think this means that I need to get my family outside either hiking or exploring, with no schedule. We live in Colorado, so it’s so easy to go on an adventure. We love to grab a picnic, find a new hike, and just disconnect and have fun. So, my goal is to add in these adventures every month. I think it’s ok to repeat the same fun pattern every month!
So, what is “fun” for your family, and how can you repeat that every month?
2. Create a memory in 5 minutes
If you want to create a fun memory, go in the room that your kids are playing (or your husband/partner is interacting with a child), and turn on your phone to Record Voice Memos. Just stay in that room for awhile (10 minutes? 20 minutes?) and record the playtime and the interactions.
Soak up their voices. Think about their conversations and play time banter. Focus on your husband’s conversation with your kids. And record it for posterity.
Save that recording with the date, and repeat every month.
This simple act of being with your children and remembering everyday daily life, will give you memories for years to come. And is one of those good new year’s resolution ideas that is attainable, reasonable, and will give you quality time with your family.
3. Put your phone down.
This one is so easy – yet so hard.
Instead of reminding you about the screen time apps on your phone that can tell you “how well you are doing today”, I want to tell you about the tiny trick I have to spending time without my phone.
I have a drawer.
Like, a literal drawer in my house.
And often (not a lot, but often enough), I put my phone in the drawer.
That’s it. It physically isn’t in my pocket or in my hand. And I can forget about it.
4. Don’t rush the bedtime evening routine.
You guys. I am the worst at bedtime.
I am so tired. So fussy. And all I want is for kids to just climb into bed, not need books read, and just have the calmest bedtime.
That never works, right?
I try to remember that the mom my kids get at bedtime, is the mom that will effect their tomorrow.
That mom needs to be kind and loving.
So, I am trying to nice, patient, and give them a nice mom at bedtime. Here are some tips I try to implement:
- One book per kid max. I can do that!
- Permission for kids to get water, get a toy – if they do it themselves.
- Use of the Yoto player to help with independence.
- This alarm clock to help with their bedtime routine.
5. Take advantage of your commute.
When I started driving my kids to their new preschool and kindergarten, I realized HOW MUCH TIME was spent driving back and forth to the kids’ school.
So much family time “wasted”.
And then I realized I needed a commute plan. So here are some things we do…
- Listen to a kids podcast! See my favorites below.
- Practice the alphabet, numbers, memorization for their class.
- Do a “best of”, “worst of” for the entire day at school.
- Practice speech therapy exercises.
- List gratitudes.
- Eat snacks on the way home.
- Call the grandparents on the speaker phone and pass the phone around for a nice chat.
- Have quiet time.
Here are some of our favorite podcasts that we listen to on the way to and from school. Sometimes we listen to these on my phone. But, we also like using this mini bluetooth speaker.
My favorite way to get free audiobooks, is to use my library card and hook it up to the The Libby App. You can download audiobooks for free! This is great for older and young children.
Here are our favorite kids podcasts:
6. Don’t wait for a family vacation.
I’m so guilty of this. But, we are also in a season where family vacations don’t happen as often as I’d like.
So, I’ve been trying to plan mini-vacation-adventure days with my kids.
I started this last year, and it has been so nice to give us mini-adventures that keep our cup filled.
What is fun to you? How can you implement that a little each month? How can you enjoy a smaller amount of time, and not need a huge vacation?
7. Be careful about multi-tasking.
I’m the best at multi-tasking. And the worst. I fill up my schedule so much with simple household chores, laundry, schedules, answering emails, and “balancing” our home life, that I forget that mult-tasking can be harmful.
Instead of saying one thing is my priority, I’m saying that my whole life is semi-important, and that one thing doesn’t take precedence.
I want to change this.
Here is one way I like to pick one word to make my priority for that week.
I love these mindfulness cards that remind me of one word that is my priority each week.
I would encourage you to find one word that gives you motivation and priority each week to focus your priorities!
8. Shift your mindset.
When I think of my whole time as a mom, I struggle to remember every moment. And I certainly didn’t “make every moment count’, or “enjoy every day because children just get older”. But I can think back to those precious moments that stand out when I close my eyes.
One of my favorite articles in the word “Don’t Carpe Diem” by Glennon Doyle, says this:
“I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn’t enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn’t in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn’t MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I’d wake up and the kids would be gone, and I’d be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.
But the fact remains that I will be that nostalgic lady. I just hope to be one with a clear memory. And here’s what I hope to say to the younger mama gritting her teeth in line:
“It’s helluva hard, isn’t it? You’re a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. She’s my favorite. Carry on, warrior. Six hours till bedtime.” And hopefully, every once in a while, I’ll add– “Let me pick up that grocery bill for ya, sister. Go put those kids in the van and pull on up- I’ll have them bring your groceries out.”
Anyway. Clearly, Carpe Diem doesn’t work for me.I can’t even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question.
Here’s what does work for me:
There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It’s regular time, it’s one minute at a time, it’s staring down the clock till bedtime time, it’s ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it’s four screaming minutes in time out time, it’s two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in.
Then there’s Kairos time. Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. Kairos is those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day, and I cherish them.
Like when I actually stop what I’m doing and really look at [my daughter]. I notice how perfectly smooth and brownish her skin is. I notice the perfect curves of her teeny elf mouth and her asianish brown eyes, and I breathe in her soft smell. In these moments, I see that her mouth is moving but I can’t hear her because all I can think is – This is the first time I’ve really seen her all day, and my God – she is so beautiful. Kairos.”
THAT is how I want to remember my time as a mom.
9. Be creative with your schedule.
When it comes to your family, your internal questions and your family solutions will change a LOT. One season you will be in a great cadence with kids, work, and life…and the next season things fall apart.
My husband and I have gotten very intentional about asking each other weekly questions: Are our children happy? Do we need to make any family changes? Have we had intentional time together recently? What does each person need in the coming week?
These check-ins give you permission to change things up, and make sure the right things are prioritized.
When I am talking to my friends, I try to never say “We always do this…” because there is no “Always”. Things change so much, that each season brings different patterns.
Here’s a pattern that we are implementing right now that really helps our family.
Every week, my husband and I chat about what the other person needs. On top of our normal schedules, my husband is working on house renovations, I work on this blog, and we both have external obligations.
I might tell my husband that I need 3-4 hours extra that week, and he might need 2-3. We factor these “needs” into our schedules, and give each other the time the other person needs.
Keep reading to see how we use these check-ins to make family time work with us.
10. Make family time work for you.
Here are some ways we give ourselves this extra time and make family time work for us:
- 3-4 times a week, we feed our children dinner early by themselves. On these nights, we alternate who does the dinner/bedtime routines. When I take care of the kids, he has time to get his work done. The other nights he does the dinner/bedtime routine, and I have extra hours to accomplish my work. After the kids are in bed, we then have dinner and chill time together, uninterrupted.
- 2-3 times a night we eat with the kids, and do the bedtime routine together. After the kids are in bed, my husband and I split and work on our separate work projects. I manage several Pinterest accounts for clients, and complete this work usually between 8 pm – 1 am on these nights. (I also grab one of these for my self-care, early-to-bed night.)
- On weekends, we find periods of time to give each other help when needed. It might be that my husband takes the kids to the park, while I stay home and clean the house. Or I might entertain the kids while he does house construction. If we do a family activity, then we alternate dinner time that day so we can catch up on our obligations.
These patterns aren’t perfect, and if they ever get in the way of “family time”, we adjust. But for right now, they work, and they give us extra time during an already-busy week.
Check in with your partner or spouse to see how to make these patterns work for you!