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"There simply aren't enough hours in a day," you may hear a busy parent say — or you may have said it yourself. Acknowledging the fact that you have more obligations than you can reasonably cover in a day isn't going to change anything, though, and a certain amount of prioritizing is probably inevitable for busy, working parents. How do you prioritize?
I admit that I struggle sometimes. Between working, homeschooling, keeping the house semi-organized, getting meals on the table, socializing and other stuff, something's got to give. If I'm not careful, it's that positive bonding time with my kids. You know, that time you spend with your kids just because — not because you are driving them to activities, getting them to do chores, or helping them learn.
Let's Start With You
Let's start with you, using the basic idea that people who feel good about themselves and their lives are better parents. If you're stressed out and perpetually teetering on the edge of burn-out, connecting with your kids is going to be hard. Even if you do make time for fun and bonding, your mind is going to be elsewhere.
Engaging in things that matter to you, and things you enjoy, will give you more energy and make you a nicer person to be around. Now, spending time with your kids may be the very thing that makes that happen for you. Chances are there are also other things you'd love to be doing, but aren't.
They may include:
- Proper intellectual stimulation
- Hobbies like playing music, fixing your car, attending a book club
- Having your spiritual needs met through a house of worship or home worship
- Being active in the community, helping others
- Seeing your relatives and friends on a regular basis
Clearly, these are all things that take up time. So should you allow yourself to do things that you might classify as non-essentials? Well, you may actually find that meeting your own needs makes you both more productive and a better parent. If that's the case, it's easy to conclude that making time for yourself is worthwhile, even if you're not strictly doing it for yourself.
Have Dinner Together
Everyone needs to eat. Making sure you eat together pays off. Research shows that children who eat dinner with their family regularly perform better at school, have better self-esteem, and are more resilient. You may be surprised to hear that these kids also have a lower risk of obesity, becoming teen parents, depression, and developing eating disorders. There are, then, solid scientific reasons to commit to eating dinner with your kids — every day if possible, as often as you can if not.
Family dinners can create an island in time, a ritual you can all rely on. To make the best of this experience, set aside a specific time for dinner in advance and prepare healthy home-cooked meals. Turn off your devices or at least place them far away from the dinner table. Then, talk. Giving everyone the chance to talk about their day and feelings is an obvious step. Some families also talk about current affairs or set a specific topic to discuss. This is a nice chance to share your views about important topics such as politics, theology, social matters or things like pop culture and dating.