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How To Make More Time For Your Kids

You work a full-time job — almost every modern parent does. In fact, studies have found that two incomes are all but mandatory for raising a family in the high-cost world of the 21st century. Still, if you feel like you are missing out on crucial developments in your child’s life because you need to make a morning meeting or hit a project deadline, you might need to rearrange your priorities — and your schedule.

How To Make More Time For Your Kids

The truth is that your job is important, but so is spending time with your little ones during their formative years. Here are a few tips for squeezing more out of your time with them — and squeezing more time out of your day.

Eliminate the Time-wasters

The first step in wrangling more time out of your already jam-packed schedule is to identify and eliminate activities that waste your time and your kids’. While most people jump to actions like watching TV or scrolling through social media — which are indeed time-wasters, claiming around 9 hours of an average parent’s day — there are other activities you might think are essential but that truly aren’t doing anything positive in your life or your children’s. Good examples of these include:

  • Commuting during rush hour. You might think you have to be at work exactly at 8 A.M., but most workers find their employers flexible in schedule as long as total hours worked remains the same. By shifting your drive later, you can wake up and spend the morning with your kids and avoid wasting time in traffic.
  • Buying coffee on-the-go. For the same reason, planning to stop for coffee on your way to work will waste you dozens of minutes every morning (and afternoon, if you always go out for joe). That time adds up; brewing coffee at home is faster, and it keeps you closer to your kids.
  • Doing chores. If you require an entire day on the weekends to clean your home, do laundry and keep the yard in shape, it probably isn’t worth it to continue doing those chores on your own. You should pick and choose a few chores to outsource, like lawn care, which can demand hours of attention every week.

Limit Kids’ Activities

Cutting activities from your own busy schedule isn’t enough; you also need to make sure your kids have time to spend with you. Too often, modern kids are enrolled in more than their share of extracurricular activities, on top of what can be especially grueling academic workloads. If your kids are flying around from school to piano lessons to soccer practice to theater training to volunteering and back, it’s time to decide which hobbies are worth keeping.

Kids who have gotten into the habit of juggling too many activities might be resistant at first to dropping any of their commitments. However, if you can promise that they will still be able to see their friends, they might enjoy the prospect of dropping some responsibilities and having more free time with you.

Make Meals Mandatory

While research conclusions on healthy family interactions seem to be in constant flux, one truth remains undeniable: Family meals are important. Eating together might seem mundane — even burdensome — but study after study has found that child outcomes improve significantly when even one meal a week is spent with the whole family. Some of the factors improved by family meals include:

  • Physical health Rates of childhood obesity go down when kids regularly eat alongside their parents. This is because family meals are more often prepared at home from whole foods, so kids get in the habit of making healthier food choices.
  • Mental health. Rates of substance abuse and eating disorders go down among kids who are expected to show up for family meals.
  • Social aptitude. Family meals facilitate family discussions, which also help younger kids learn the importance of taking turns in conversation and considering others’ points of view. Additionally, meals give parents the chance to teach kids etiquette, like chewing with mouths closed and keeping elbows off the table.

If you work during dinner times, you can shift your family meals to the morning and spend time together during breakfast. Experts say you should have at least four meals per week together to see noticeable differences in your kids.

In truth, quality is as important as quantity when it comes to spending time with your kids. Watching television silently in the same room isn’t as valuable to their development as walking hand-in-hand through a museum or riding bikes together through the neighborhood. Even if you can’t carve out much more time to see your children, you can improve the time you do have, so you can make lasting memories with beneficial impacts on their development.

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