Family Time – How Parents Can Make the Most of It

by Karen Sibal

As busy parents, time is one of our most precious commodities. Parenting becomes a challenge. Our time is even more valuable if you have yourng children, our have a new baby in your life. The impressions we make now and the time we spend with them will mould their future characters. Whether both parents are working – or perhaps one parent works and the other minds the kids – we all know that there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on our “to do” lists. Quite often, spending really good quality time with the kids falls to the wayside. 
Now it’s time to ‘fess up: how many of you will admit to using the TV as a babysitter in your home? Maybe “family time” has evolved into your children watching the tube so that you’re able to cook dinner after work or clean the house – at least the entire family is together at home, right? The fact is, that families need to spend quality time together daily – this is the only way our children will learn how to form lasting bonds and learn what to do when they have families of their own.  

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If you’re looking for some fun and effortless ways to spend qualitytime with your children and how to get started, then read on. You’re sure to create some great memories for your family along the way: 
Getting Organized to Spend Quality Time 
You may marvel at how some families manage to find the time to do it all and hang out with their kids. It doesn’t come easy – it requires a little bit of planning and organizing, and considering new ways of moving through life. Here are some things you can do to free up some extra time: 
Shop Online – Consider using the Internet to do your banking, pay bills, and shopping for groceries, clothes and other household items. This way, you’ll be saving the commuting time involved in running errands as well as the time you spend waiting in lines. Designate one night a week for online errands. 
Limit After-School Activities – Do you find yourself running a marathon each night, shuttling the kids around town for after-school activities? Maybe you wonder why there’s never a night just for you. Sit down with the kids and find out which activities really interest them. Consider setting limits such as one activity per child per semester. Look for opportunities to combine classes so that you still have a couple of free evenings a week. A friend of mine told me that she carpools with another mom to take the kids to karate lessons – this way, she always has an extra evening freed up each week. 
Consider Alternate Work Arrangements – There are an increasing number of employers that have flexible work arrangements such as working from home, flexible hours, job sharing and shortened work weeks so that people are able to spend more time with their kids or even engage in leisure or educational pursuits. Ask your human resources department if your company has policies in this area. Or perhaps your boss might be open to a suggestion from you. After all, companies have a lot to gain by offering some flexibility in the workplace – happier employees usually make more productive employees. 
Prepare Meals Ahead of Time – Pick a night of the week to prepare meals for the upcoming week. This avoids the dinner hour scramble each night and saves time so there’s more of it for your kids. Involve your children in selecting meals for the week and helping with the preparations. School-aged children can do simple tasks like rinsing fruit, chopping vegetables, and grating cheese. Bonus: when kids have input in preparing meals, they’ll probably eat better too! 
Consider a Cleaning Service – Having an extra set of hands help you keep your place moderately tidy can be a small price to pay for having the extra time to do things with your family. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. Consider having a student clean your place, or a mother’s helper to lend a hand with the laundry and vacuuming which are often the most time consuming chores.

Karen Sibal is a freelance writer, researcher and communications consultant. She is the owner of Sibal Writing and Consulting, a firm that specializes in public policy research and effective communications and web solutions for all types of organizations.  Over the past 15 years, Karen has done work for local and provincial governments and several not-for-profit organizations.  Karen has written extensively on children’s issues and has recently helped with launching an association for mothers and children in her community. She is a member of the Halton-Peel Communications Association and has also served as the managing editor of a government child welfare journal. Karen is currently authoring a children’s book series for preschool children and keeps busy with various community projects.  

Karen lives with her husband and two girls, ages 2 and 8 years, in Oakville, Ontario Canada. For more information about Karen, please visit her web site at or call 416-580-9097.

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2005

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