Time blocking is a great technique to use to achieve what you want through out the day. If you look at my weekly schedule, it is effectively time blocking.
Time blocking is a very results-oriented way of viewing and using time. It’s a way of making sure that what has to be done gets done” – Gary Keller, The One thing
I block out chunks of time through out the day to specific tasks. I had my personal and work goal in mind when I worked out my schedule. During school holidays though, this schedule goes out the window! I squeeze work in around the edges where I can. Early morning before the kids rise, some afternoons when they watch a movie or play on devices and later in the evening when they are in bed.
I take the opportunity during the school holidays to block time out to play with the kids. I have written briefly about my use of 20 minutes blocks before, but thought I would explain a little more.
These blocks are loved dearly by the kids. They don’t happen every single day during the holidays as we may have too much else on, but I try to fit them in as often as I can. In a family with 5 kids having one on one time with mum can be hard to find at times, which is why I think the kids love it so much.
20 minute block process with the kids
The way we work them is as follows:
- I will let the kids know that through out the day we will have 20 minute blocks.
- The child is allowed to choose whatever activity (non technology based) they like.
- I play for the full 20 minutes uninterrupted. Well sometimes there are other child based interruptions, but I don’t answer the phone, check my phone and remain fully present for the 20 minutes.
- Some activities the kids choose will most likely go for longer than 20 minutes. We work out a solution before starting about how we will manage this eg declare a winner at the end of the 20 minutes, come back and play at a later time, play a shorter or different version of the game.
- The aim is for one on one time, however sometimes the kids will want to join together their time so they have longer to play an activity they both want to do. As long as they are both happy to do that, I am ok.
- I set a timer and when the alarm goes off, that is the end of the 20 minutes.
It sounds very formal when written out like that, but it reality it isn’t. Some mornings this holidays when I have come back in from my run, only the youngest will be awake. After we have breakfast together, I will ask him what he would like to play and we set about playing. If I have more time, I happily play longer, but by setting the expectation at 20 minutes it makes it much easier for me to manage the time blocks over multiple kids.
Sometimes for whatever reason a child will choose not to take up the opportunity and I don’t push it. There is generally a reason for it, so I will observe them and make sure all is okay with them.
The benefits of 20 minute time blocks
Like many who answered my reader survey last year, I also find carving out individual time with the kids a challenge. This strategy while far from perfect makes it doable for me. It is a great way to connect with the kids. Yes they are completely capable of playing on their own and amusing themselves, but I find it brings many benefits like:
- bringing us closer together, they will often share things they might not have talked to me about without this time together
- it creates memories – games of snakes and ladders where I continually go down the big snake over and over again, they love when that type of thing happens to an adult and will happily tell the tale over and over
- makes for calm days – the kids are happy to spend many days at home over the holidays, knowing that they have time with me. I think during the holidays we all need days where we aren’t rushing about.
- it makes me feel better – playing games is fun! It is so easy to spend most of our time on the serious side of parenting, but spending time kicking a soccer ball with the kids or working on a puzzle together brings me joy and makes me feel better.
I struggle to be able to 20 minute blocks during the school term weekdays, but weekends do provide an opportunity to spend time blocks with the kids as well. 20 minute blocks of course are not the only time I play or spend time with the kids, but it is a defined way we have of spending one on one time together in our family. At times the kids will ask if they can have 20 minutes with me. When this happens I try as much as possible to find time on that day, as it is a signal to me that they need time with me.
20 activities you can do with your child in 20 minutes
If you are wondering what are some of the things we do in our 20 minute sessions, below I have listed 20 activities the kids love. Some of these activities are ongoing, that is they don’t have an end point, which is great, because once I stop playing the child will often keep on playing happily by themselves:
- LEGO creation
- Medium sized puzzle
- Colouring in
- Creating and completing a word search
- Play 21 card game
- Play hangman
- Kicking the soccer ball
- Jumping on the trampoline
- Playing balloon games
- Duplo numeracy tower game
- Baking simple recipes like these easy muffins or these no bake chocolate seed balls
- Scootering up and down the hill
- Picking flowers and flower arranging
- Making car tracks and ramps
- Playing Boggle
- Playing Mastermind
- Collecting leaves and making autumn trees
- Having a tea party
- Sewing small items like this softie or this rice heat pack
Want to spend more time with the kids?
Sometimes the list of things we feel we have to do, the things we want to do and things other people want us to do can be overwhelming. Having a single goal can help you set your priorities and have a focus that you can filter decisions through. If you would like help setting a single goal then my e-course Planned & Present can help you. Through out the course lessons I will take you on a journey where we work out where you are spending your time now, determine where you want to be spending it and creating a plan to get you there. The course will deliver to you:
- Clarity and confidence to deal with competing interests – by determining your “why” you can make navigating this minefield much easier.
- Creation of positive habits – through learning about why habits work and how you can fit them into your life permanently.
- Routines, processes and plans to organise the chaos of family life – there are templates for you to use and routines to follow, so you don’t have to start from scratch.
Planned + Present is a seven week e-course to take you from feeling our of control and overwhelmed to feeling planned and present. It is a step-by-step guide on how to organise the chaos of family life while still leaving space to enjoy it.
With the drive of wanting to be organised it can be easy to forget why we want to be organised – to be able to spend more time enjoying our family. The course teaches you how to establish plans and processes for those repetitive tasks of family life, allowing you to be more effective and efficient with your time, so you can be more present with your family. It also shows you how you can spread some of the workload to others in the family, so you don’t feel like you are the worker bee all the time.
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