One of the biggest challenges of today’s time-pressed parents is having quality time with their kids. Between, activities, sports, lessons, school events coupled with your work schedules, life moves at a frantic pace.
I remember thinking a motor home was a better idea than a minivan given the fact that we lived in our car – literally: ate, worked, did homework, changed clothes, dealt with drama, hormones and tough questions all while shuttling between commitments.
With three active kids, life was busy. We even had limits on their involvements: 1 sport which included dance plus one art or music if they chose and I could barely keep up with our color coded calendar. How other parents managed more is beyond me.
Life is moving fast. How do you slow done enough to actually have time to connect with your kids. How do you stay on top of the details of their schedule and as well as yours?
Two tips that helped me:
Color coded life: each family member had a color I used consistently on the calendar for their activities, folder for their papers, lunchboxes, mittens, etc. This made identifying who needed to be where at what time a bit easier and each kid knew where to put there school papers for me to sign or read and they couldn’t “borrow” each others stuff by mistake!
Connections in the Car: I learned a lot about my kids during car time. We redeemed the time by using it to connect. sometimes we listened to their choice of music, discussed important topics; school drama, friendships, faith questions, anxieties and choices or challenges they faced. Other times, I listened and learned about their lives as they conversed with friends in the car pool, or with one another about the stuff of life. We even did car church on the way to travel sports on Sundays.
The car was also a place of silence, fuming teens, tense arguments and a weary frustrated mom… Music was a much better option on those drives.
We didn’t have smart phones or movies in the car, back in the old days. We limited their time on the CD player and later their ipods to encourage connection during those drives to and from practice, school, church, and friends’ houses. Limited screen time, led to conversations and interactions that would occur otherwise.
Music on the radio meant learning to compromise, take turns and handle disappointment. This also meant we listened to rap music, show tunes, kids music, and the popular music of the day.. all together! Did they like it… Nope, not usually. But now as young adults I have heard them reminiscing about those times… and it makes the hassles of working to use car time for connections worth it. (mostly.)
Two small tips that just may help slow life down a bit or at least keep you engaged as you hang on for the ride.
What are some things your family does to stay connected in the hectic pace of life with kids?