I find at this time of year, the calendar is pretty full with end of school functions, end of school presentations, Christmas get togethers and additional errands getting ready for Christmas.
It can be easy to spend lots of time with the kids, but not really being with the kids if you know what I mean? We are in the same place, but we aren’t interacting together. And while it is great as parents that we have a chance to socialise with our friends and the kids with theirs, I find the kids still need time with us.
Here are some small and simple things we have been doing to make sure we stay connected throughout the Christmas period:
The 7 day challenge
Choose a game and commit to playing it, seven days in a row. Obviously you need to choose your game wisely – Monopoly would not be my choice! We have played Cluedo before and just finished another 7 day streak of the 21 card game with the younger two boys. The kids love the idea of keeping the streak going and with 21, I committed that I would play at least 15 minutes each day, in reality 15 minutes is not a huge amount of time.
On day 5 we almost didn’t make it. As I put them to bed, the youngest went “Mum! Our streak!” So they both got out of bed and we played 15 minutes. I honestly didn’t feel like playing, but the competitor in me didn’t want to break the streak either and we actually had a great time playing.
Stick to family favourite meal times
Our menu plans for the last couple of weeks and for the upcoming weeks are quite repetitive. The are full of the kids favourite meals and meals that are easy for me to cook. Think lots of wrap style meals, meat and veg, homemade hamburgers and the like.
This works on a couple of fronts. I have more time to be with them as I spend less time cooking and then the meal time itself is more enjoyable because every likes what is served.
Extend the evening meal time conversation
The nights were we aren’t out and can all sit to eat together, instead of looking at the clock to make sure I get the kids to bed on time, I allow the conversation to continue and let the little ones go to bed a little later. While I know they are tired, there is much to be said for the well being effect from enjoying family conversations after dinner.
Ask for their help
The kids know it is a busier time of year, but they don’t automatically think about how they can help, so we can have more time together. I have learnt that making a martyr of yourself doesn’t work – teenagers don’t even notice! So I will now ask the kids to help. It is not uncommon for me to ask all the kids to meet me in the kitchen. I explain what is happening and how I need everyone’s help so I can spend more time with them. The teenagers aren’t necessarily keen on the more time with them idea, but they understand the younger kids like it so pitch in too.
Block out time for the family
There has been very kind invitations I have declined, not because we had something on at that time, but for that week, we already had enough on. I find this super hard to do in the moment as I worry about missing out. But when the time comes around and I can spend time hanging outside with the kids on a Sunday afternoon when we have been out most of the weekend, I am grateful I made the decision to politely decline.