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Let’s just call it what it is, the witching hour?
OK, maybe not a real witching hour but you know, that time between work, cooking dinner, and getting the kids to bed? For working Moms and stay-at-home Moms alike, it is usually when the perfect storm takes place.
Mom is cranky, Dad is stressed, kids are tired and it has been a LONG day for all. Plus, to-do’s are piling up, the sink is loaded with dishes, paperwork and bills need to be sorted and there’s homework to be finished.
It feels like there is NO time to stop and connect. Yet, we know in our gut that isn’t true; until we prioritize uninterrupted time for parents and children, it just won’t happen.
I have 10 simple and effective ways to connect with your kids during the work week.
When you’re ready to commit to connection, even if it’s just for 20 minutes, it helps everyone to relax because you are prioritizing a need and a value: FAMILY.
It’s relaxing to color. Have you seen the spike in adult coloring books? It’s because it helps us wind down. Same goes for our kids.
After work, dinner and all other “priority” tasks are complete, sit down and color. Relax.
This is helpful for you and your kids. Coloring allows for increased open communication because it takes away the vulnerability of direct eye contact.
As humans, we are more willing to open up and discuss feelings when we don’t feel exposed. Eye contact exposes us.
2. Library Date
This is a good habit in general. Pick a day of the week where you go to the library after work/school.
My son and I make sure to return our books (bonus points for no late fees☺) and we get to pick out new books and/or DVDs. I let him play in the children’s area and at our library there is a self-service cafe area where you can have a snack.
I bring a light appetizer and we read one of our new books. This may as well be a 5-Star date to my son – he thinks it’s SO special to sit at the tables and read our books and eat our gourmet snacks…. Cheez-Its.
3. Morning Coffee Date
Connection time doesn’t have to take place after work. Change it up and make every Friday a coffee date.
Mornings are a hustle but if you give some special, dedicated time to a 20-minute coffee date, it will go a long way with your kid(s).
We haven’t done an in-week coffee date yet but I usually take my son to our local coffee shop on the weekends. It’s a big event, he brings his wallet so he can tip the baristas and orders a chocolate milk with ice… just like my iced coffee☺.
I suggest bringing a carry along game like Brain Quest. Better yet, make up a story about all the coffee shop characters while you’re there and make it funny! Laughter is the best way to start your mornings.
4. Evening Walks
This is a tough one for us due to our climate in New England. So when it’s nice enough out, we’ll do a walk before or after dinner.
Sometimes it’s a scooter or bike ride, sometimes it’s a foot race, and sometimes we come out in full costume ready to save the World.
When your flying power fails you, you take the town by scooter 🛴🦇 . . . #toddler #toddlerlife #batman #toddlersofinstagram #imagine #pretend #thismomlife #sundaysareforbatman #momblogger
38 Likes, 4 Comments – Bridget | This Mom Life (@bridget_thismomlife) on Instagram: “When your flying power fails you, you take the town by scooter 🛴🦇 . . . #toddler #toddlerlife…”
Get outside, follow your child’s lead and the connection will flow.
5. Special Dinner
To be on board with this one, first download this perfect meal planning sheet. This way your Mom-monster isn’t super cranky about dinner time and you’ll be organized.
Now that’s out of the way, plan one night every couple weeks (or however frequently you choose) where your child sets a dinner theme. These small events will amount to cherished memories.
Toni shares some inspirational ideas on her blog such as Eat Like a Pirate, Mr. and Mrs. Manners, and Happy Days.
Other Dinner Ideas:
- Tea Party Theme – make everything super, super tiny and delicate
- A Madeline Theme – all things Parisian
- Dinosaur Theme – a meat eater’s plate, a vegetarian plate and dino eggs (grapes)
- Dragons Love Tacos Theme – hello taco party!
I find the best dinners are buffet style where my son can create his own plate and help himself to what he likes. Tacos are always a win.
6. Game Night
This is always a parenting win. Kids love board games and it’s a great way to connect the whole family.
Younger kids can engage in matching games, Chutes and Ladders, Sneaky Snacky Squirrel and more.
When the kids start to get a bit older, you can play longer and more strategic based games.
I had a friend where her family would keep a running game of Monopoly and play for an hour or so every night after dinner in their parlor room (they really had a parlor, it was an old farmhouse). As a kid, I thought that was so neat!
In the same area as games, puzzles evolve with kids as they grow. It tends to be a good activity to break out as the winter months roll in and we’re snuggled up with blankets and hot chocolate.
Like coloring, puzzles offer up an opportunity for increased open discussion. Plus, it will strengthen everyone’s problem-solving skills.
Right now, our son is 3 and our favorite puzzles are Ravensburger. They are a quality brand and they level their puzzles by age. We buy up in age and challenge him to use his problem-solving skills.
I place a high value on being a Fit Mom and the main reason is that it models a healthy lifestyle for my family.
Being a working Mom and managing everything else in the household certainly challenges the time you have to workout. However, it is not an excuse.
My husband and I choose to workout after work (we alternate times), but doing so cuts into family time, right?
Not true, we use it as a time to connect. My son will workout with us. We put on music, show him how to do pushups, or he’ll just grab his lightsaber and practice Jedi moves.
He’s proud to work out with Mom or Dad and we get time to connect – win, win.
9. Grab a Slice
Or just any takeout! If you can find a pizza place that orders by the slice, I find that is best. My son loves the experience of picking out his slice and just people watching.
There’s hardly any wait time which is perfect for busy nights and impatient toddlers. We like to do this on Friday’s and then grab a treat from a local candy store or cafe.
This connection can be the most overlooked during the weeknight hustle but also the MOST impactful way to connect.
Get on your kids’ level and immerse yourself in their World. PLAY.
The more enthusiasm and attention you give during this play time the more excited your child will be.
If you have to schedule in 10-15 minutes of play before of after dinner, do so! Build Legos, play store, or roughhouse – it will make their day.
Make it Happen
When we’re in the midst of a work week it can be hard to prioritize a time to connect, but if there’s one thing I want you to take away from this post, it’s to make it happen.
Look at your schedule and mentally or literally (I know some people really love their planners!) set aside time. It becomes easier once it becomes habit!
Don’t forget to check out how I manage our evenings after 5 PM as a working mom – click the banner below!
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