Getting more time for our children and families

"What thoughts can you share on the subject of getting more time in our lives for our children's and families' benefit."

"Take your phone off the hook! Set aside a certain afternoon or evening and be nice but firm with family and friends and tell them this is your time to share without any interruptions. Leave your house and go to the park where no one will be able to locate you and you will be able to feel carefree and enjoy your kids without the phone or knocks at your door! Defend your family time!"

"I hate wasting time in the kitchen. So when I make chili or lasagna or anything that freezes well, I make a huge batch and freeze the rest for future meals. Also, I have a two-week meal plan that I use over and over. That way, I know what's for dinner and planning and shopping for groceries is easy because I know exactly what I'll need. I only make meals that are quick to prepare and easy to clean up."

"Don't let the small stuff bother your. I was the ultimate in having to get every little chore done right now. Now my husband and I devote our evening hours to our son and get things done after he goes to bed or while he's napping on weekends. Yes, I have a `to do' list a mile long but what's more important - cleaning the basement or cuddling a child?"

"Isn't it time to get off the life roller coaster and take time for the simple things that make memories so sweet? Do our children have to be on traveling sports teams? Would it make such a difference if they played against other area kids in the district instead of going all over the state? What happened to the days of having one special day or night the whole family stayed together and did something? It can still be done if your set the day and keep it. Plan for that day to make it fun. But just do it!"

"Turn off the T.V., computer, radio, and any other gadget. Go for walks, play board games, start the grill and roast marshmallows like a cook out. Just a little talking and sharing goes a long way."

"Set aside one night per week where no one is

allowed to make outside plans. We also shut off the T.V. during meals and 1 hour each night to read books, do homework, talk, etc."

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"Leave the T.V. off and spend time with each other doing simple things. It's easy to get hooked on programs (& commercials) resulting in a loss of valuable time which could be used for creating special family moments."

"I try to make at least 1 hour every evening to be with my son. I don't answer the phone, or watch T.V., etc. I sit on the ground at his level (he's 12 months) and attempt to perceive everything the way he is seeing things. I really give him my undivided attention then, and let him initiate some of our activity. I feel wonderful about that precious bit of focused time with him. It's never enough though!"

"I think a relaxed, `stop to smell the roses' attitude can only come from within each individual. Whatever each person can do to maintain that attitude is great. For me, it may be taking a few deep breaths when I feel my body tensing, or sitting down and doing a meditation or relaxation every day. It also helps to remind myself that all I have is this very moment - past and future do not exist. Then I can truly be present with my children and myself."

"Make a list of how you (parents) spend your time. Your children can do this too if it's appropriate. Now organize in order of priority the items on your list. It will help you think about it. You may have to cut out some things that are important to you. An in-law of mine stopped practicing as a family physician and took a 9 to 5 job in order to have more time with his family."

"Time is the one thing my husband and I fight the most about - spending time together, spending personal time apart, and spending more or less time with our son. Obviously I don't have the answers but I have learned that good communication is essential so everybody (adults and children) get the time they need to be themselves. It is also important to constantly re-evaluate your priorities and commitments. One of the hardest things is not to let the undone things bother you too much because there are a lot of them!"

"Learn to say no - even to friends. It sounds simple, but I'm beginning to see how hard it is. We have a 20 month old daughter and because of her we are becoming more involved in church and community activities. These are usually fun and enjoyable, but when every night of the week is booked. It's time to cut back and spend time at home as a family."

"Turn off the T.V.! At first it may be painful, but after several weeks, you'll all be calmer, closer, and you'll realize how much of your valuable time T.V. was wasting."

"I gave away the T.V. and it's made a phenomenal difference in the quality of our home life and the sense of adequacy of time. Family members actually enter a room and look at and interact with each other! The things that only I can do, I do on certain days so it doesn't pile up and overwhelm me. When I'm feeling over-extended, I take stock of what activities give back as much as they take, and which could probably wait a year or two. We're in two child care co-ops and attend a church with lots of family activities. These things return the time and energy invested in them."

"To those moms who work to provide the extras for the kids - ask any pre-schooler, they'll tell you they would rather have mommy than the things!"

"I have been trying to implement ideas daily on this subject. As a stay-at-home mom, here are some of the things I try to do (but it is still an ongoing struggle): Eliminate television as much as possible. Cut out shows you really don't just `have' to see. Plan a minimized viewing schedule for the whole family and stick to it. Get organized. Stay on top of housework a little at a time instead of building up big jobs. Get older kids to help do jobs together (don't just assign separate tasks). Get involved in family oriented activities instead of personal interest activities, such as church groups, community volunteer groups, family sports and exercise as opposed to individual sports. And most important of all, make sure everyone gets their own private time, at some time, even if it's only an hour. (This means you to, mom.) People who can't be alone with themselves sometimes don't make good companions."

"I think what's most important is to make the most of the time we are together. If the house isn't perfect, it's OK. It may be stressful to have house work piling up but our children and family relationships are in need of attention also. We need to decide what is more important. The memories are being made now. Let's make them good, Well, my 5 year old daughter wants me to color with her now. Gotta go."

"Get rid of the T.V.! Too many hours are wasted sitting in front of the T.V. that could be used to spend with your spouse/children. Sometimes you don't realize how it can monopolize your time. As an experiment, unplug all the televisions for one week and see how it alters your day. Also, to have more time with your family, something has to give (work, household chores, etc.). Just accept that fact, and make family the priority."

"Set some priorities so you spend your time where it means the most (isn't that what we have to do with our money?). If it's a beautiful day outside, postpone that laundry or cleaning or shopping trip and go to the park and play. After all, the fun times are the memories you'll cherish."

"Keep your priorities straight: Family first, work and work related tasks second. Force yourself to reserve at least one full night during the week exclusively for family. Don't work on the weekends. It's tough to discipline yourself to do this but the rewards are well worth it."

"Make an investment in your children! It may mean that the chores don't get done as often or as well as you would like, or those `projects' will be put off for another season. Our children are young only once. You can't recapture lost family moments. Be spontaneous - go out and play in the fresh snow. Plan a `Family Day' every week. Do something special at home or go to the zoo. Have a picnic at a park or go out for pizza. It doesn't have to be expensive for children to enjoy it. Make good memories for your children - that's what they'll treasure throughout their lives."

"This is difficult in a busy family. We each have outside activities, etc. Time with each other does seem rare, but it can be done. Pick one evening a week (not Saturday or Sunday) and stick to that evening as `Family Time'. Don't make grand plans, start with an evening of no TV and take-out dinner eaten picnic style. If the kids are old enough, play a simple game that even the youngest will enjoy. More ideas for how to spend time together will come up as you all spend time together. If once a week is too hard to stick to go for once a month. Any time together will benefit everyone."

"Set priorities. Have the children participate in age appropriate household chores (working together is valuable shared family time) and when possible `Just Say No' to housework."

"I don't think there are any easy solutions to this one. Something just has to go - in my case it is finishing my degree and getting a job."

"This is definitely a problem! Try to enjoy the process of `getting there' as much as the actual planned event. Try to involve the children in the kitchen or laundry room activities while you are working. Try to streamline and simplify life - be organized, prioritize, take care of things as they come up."

"Schedule it. Decide as a family what you would like to do together and how often. For example: Sunday evenings as a special family game time; One Saturday a month is just Dad and the kids; One Friday night is jus Mom and Dad. `Rules' can be broken or altered, but they at least mean that most months you have those special times."

"My husband and I make time. Good quality time. You can't wait for the time to just appear. We set aside certain times and don't schedule anything else in that time."

"That's the million dollar question. I work full time and like my work, but there are times when I think - life is passing us by. One thing I've done to find more time, is to hire a cleaning lady. It costs me $40 per week. This way I can spend most of my weekend with my family and not on the house. Think $40 is too much? How much is your time worth? How much is your family worth? Believe me, it's worth every penny. You can get creative with this too, and only have someone come every other week, or just have someone come and do your bathrooms or what is important to you, etc. I also try to devote my time after work to my family and save any projects until after they go to bed. It's amazing how efficient you can be when there are no distractions. I can usually run around for a half hour or so and still have time for myself or husband before bed. We've also taken more three day week ends instead of a week or two off at one shot. This gives us more time together more often instead of waiting so long between vacations."

"At this point in my life, patient, unhurried time is much more important than money. It's the most valuable thing I can give my baby."

"If it's a priority, you'll find time for it. Make your family and your children your highest priority. That may mean that one parent stays home with the child/children and takes a career break for a while. Most of us can afford to do this if we really want to. Have the parent who works outside of the home take a bath with the child and handle bed time rituals. Enjoy week end recreation together. But above all, remember: You make time for what you think is most important."

"I find that time goes down the drain, as I fight a constant battle to pick up, put away, sort, organize, maintain and repair things we could so easily live without. If only I could find the time to discard them!"

"Turn off your TV. When our old set broke about 3 years ago, we made the decision not to replace it - and it's amazing how much more time we spend talking to each other, and now, playing with our infant son. I'm not saying everyone should get rid of their TV, but really make an effort not to turn it on automatically."

"Split up the work and approach life with a team-play and teamwork attitude."

"Even when schedules can't easily be changed to free up more time, at least be sure to set aside a period each week that is sanctioned for a family or household meeting where each members voice is considered without judgement."

"As busy as everybody is these days you have to schedule time for each other just like you would for a business client. Set aside either a couple of hours a day or a whole Sunday (or both) and stick to it - let yourself forget about the laundry or housework and spend some quality time with each other. Remember, you children will only be young a short time."

"Our time together as a family is very precious to us. We both work outside the home, and we do not employ the aid of day-care services. When on of us comes home from work, the other goes in to work. By the time we are both home together, our family is asleep. We try to show our children that the times we do spend together are very important. sometimes (rarely) they come to work with us. We walk together and thus are able to enjoy the out-of-doors, exercise, and each other simultaneously."

"Set priorities. If going to the zoo is more important than cleaning, then let the cleaning slide. Occasionally set aside `family' clean-up time to make up for it. Also, consolidate and streamline. Try to do more than one thing at once - wash dishes and talk on the phone, shop by catalog, do a month's worth of grocery shopping at once and go back once a week only for perishables, etc. Schedule something fun for the family to do each day you aren't working, but enlist children's help in chores - they learn fun goes with responsibility. Also, look carefully at outside commitments and decide what you need to stay refreshed yourself and what could be dropped to be with your family more."

"Time is the great equalizer. Everyone has the same amount. The best way to expand the amount of time spent with your child is to eliminate things from your schedule. The `extras' that you elect to spend time doing have to be closely scrutinized. Learn to say `no' to others and say `yes' to your family in the long run."

"Give up something, like dusting the furniture. Do those things that are important to you and leave the rest as long as your are not bothered by them. I found even though I'm a stay-at-home mom, I could go through the whole day and feel like I didn't have time to play with the kids. Now, what works for me is to give each child individual focused attention each day. The child gets to lead the play time. I am his playmate. I play with that child only while the other child is busy with an activity or watching Sesame Street. this is not a teaching time, reading time, or watching TV together. This is focused play time with my child for at least 10 minutes a day."

"The primary concern for me is not to do things twice, or as my father used to tell me: `Make every movement and step count'. For example, put your coat and shoes (and purse) in the closet on the way into the house. While you're on your way to change your clothes for some chores take (clean laundry basket) things with you, then you'll make one trip instead of a bunch of trips. Another concern for me is achieving some level of consistent exercise. Fortunately I live close to our day-care provider and I can walk there and back (7 to 10 blocks) to get some exercise and also be with my son to talk and get him out also. He loves to look at people, kids and dogs, anything. And I can shut off my car earlier, which saves a little wear and gas."

"Everything we do seems to share in our children's life. Just working together to keep the house in living order as well as being able to all help get meals together is a real help. Between all of our activities, we have a pretty full schedule but we sit down to discuss what is going on during the week even if it's as we drive to the next event. We all pull together here and there to get things back in order for the next busy week."

"Time seems to be a very scarce commodity these days, especially for those with small children and an outside job. I was able to cut back my work hours from 40 hours a week to 24, which has been a lifesaver. Use of convenience services and products also saves some time, but environmental impact of use of the convenience should also be considered. Us of some convenience items, such as throwaway items, are not good for the environment. Other conveniences, such as use of a diaper service, are environmentally friendly."

"It seems to go back to the idea of having to make time. I really don't know if there is another way. Quality time is important but sometimes a child or family member needs you when it isn't their designated time - the situation just can't wait. If a couple can afford for one of the parents not to work, I think it's great for the children to have someone that they can always count on. I feel this is one of the single most important factors in parenting. If more parents would take responsibility in parenting, I feel it would wipe away many current problems in this country."

"Turning the phone off during supper has helped us."

"If you're working outside the home (both parents) and can afford a cleaning service every other week, that's a real help. Including all members of the family in work as well as play (grocery shopping, car washing, cleaning, etc.) can expand the task at hand, but if you can get yourself into a `process, not product' frame of mind it can even be fun. Our bed is open for snuggling at 5 a.m. to get the day off to a warm start. I jog a mile with my 5 year old at my side (on his bike) - our best talks are at this time."

"Sometimes, I feel it is a matter of give and take in a person's life and career. You can never replace or make-up for the first 0 to 6 years of a child's life involvement with parents or family members. It seems those years are so important to shape and develop a child and share with those first important moments. Whether a child's first smile or first temper tantrum. So, some of my tips would be to slow down your life, work part time if you can or take some time off form work, don't go out as much to scurry around, and remember all time spent with a child is quality time and experience."

"Simplify the routine as much as possible. I have found many time savers in books such as: I JUST NEED MORE TIME, and SIDETRACKED HOME EXECUTIVES. Let everyone pitch in with chores. Teach your children how to help."

"Every day make a play time for you and the children, preferable right when you get home. They will be better behaved and not feel deprived of your attention. This works great for a `problem child'. Also, set a day a week (or night) aside for you and your spouse. My husband and I do chores or hobbies on one day of the weekend and make the other day a `family day'."

"The old line, `It's not the amount of time it's the quality of time' is not always true. When ever possible, turn off the TV and play a game with your child. The littlest things mean so much to them. Play babies or play space man, etc. Any time you spend with your child should be with them!"

"Perhaps it's as simple as redefining the `American Dream'. Instead of taking so much pride in the big house and new car, our focus should be the pride in a strong family love and unity. Evening and weekend work for money should come only after evenings and weekends for family bonding have come first."

"An approach that works for us is to keep a consistent hour-before-bedtime ritual, allowing one or both parents to bathe and read to our boys (they pick the books or magazine)."

"Leave household tasks for when children are napping or asleep, at least some of them. Make certain that every single day includes loads of play time at home. An outing is nice too, however children enjoy nothing more than their home and their own toys with a loving family around them. Don't see people you really don't want to see. Don't get involved in so many extra committees, boards, civic responsibilities that you lose sight of why you have a family and what is really most important in your life. I always consider the small amount of time left after a full time work week. What would I rather do with that little time than share it with my family. We have no guarantees that we will have each other tomorrow."

"Turn off the TV! Evening time especially should be used for reading books, playing children's games, etc. In our family of 3 children we strictly limit when the television is on. They do not spend Saturday mornings watching cartoons. Rather we may run errands together or play outside or inside. The entire family benefits from spending the time either working or playing together, and not entertained by the television, unless it is truly constructive."

"We have to make time. It doesn't matter if you don't get the floor scrubbed, but it does matter when Johnny wants yo to read him a book or sing a song. Then you get that wonderful hug & kiss afterwards."

"The idea is use of time rather than getting more. That's impossible since we all have 24 hours a day. How we use that time is the important question. One suggestion is to get rid of the TV. Go to the library and read to the children or encourage them to read to you."

"Turn off the TV! Some families spend too much time in front of it. Today's television is totally unnecessary in the raising of children. If you took it out of your home for just 1 week, you would be surprised at the extra time that you will all have to spend doing more family oriented activities!"

"Get into the kitchen! I really enjoy when the whole family piles into the kitchen to `cook'. My 4 year old is a whiz at cracking eggs. When I bake bread, I give him a section of dough and he stands on a chair at the counter kneading his dough with me. Give the kids a `project in the house. The younger kids enjoy helping, that is, until they get old enough to realize it's a chore."

"Set aside time to spend together and then schedule it in. That way you won't feel guilty that you should be doing something else, or that you're not spending time together."

"Our solution to this problem is simple. We don't have a television. This leaves us plenty of time to just be a family even after all the necessary daily activities and chores are done. Our 21 month old son doesn't miss television, having never had one."

"Once children arrived, we found that we had to say no to all the civic, church and club requests for our time. We save that time for our children, they are our top priority now. This has changed our activities a lot. Also, our recreation tends to include our kids; Walks in the park, swimming, family oriented restaurants, etc."

"When the family can work together as a team, you can accomplish household chores while spending time together. Even small children can benefit from `helping' and can learn responsibility and develop motor skills at the same time."

"We try to limit extracurricular activities. Each child can choose two activities. It is sometimes hard, but we feel that our children will benefit more from that precious free time than being involved in one more activity. Make it a rule that everyone be home for dinner. But don't spend the time airing grievances. Spend the time getting to know each other better!"

"Instead of always saying, `Just wait until I finish.....We found that an 8:00 p.m. bedtime for all 4 of our children helps my husband and I complete household chores, read the newspaper or finish our work without putting the children off. Even if the older ones read or draw - they are still in bed at 8:00."

"The solution to this problem in our family has involved my staying home whole my husband works. This means that our lifestyle must be simple and economical - something we still struggle with. Despite this, we know deep down that God has provided for our needs, and we are satisfied with the knowledge that everyone's emotional well being is cared for. Also, not having a TV has been an asset. Instead of being glued to the tube, we read, talk, work, and play with our 14 month old son, Nathan."

"Contrary to popular belief, two incomes are usually not needed to survive. Cut back on lifestyle and get more life. Your kids won't remember what kind of car you drive now but they will remember if their parents were there for them. On the rare occasion my son envies another boy's $70 shoes, I remind him that both the boy's parents have demanding careers and after school he goes home to a huge, professionally decorated, very empty and lonely house. He, and our two girls always prefer our way once they think about it."

"Our family has always enjoyed our worship time. We all attend church together every week, then through the week we study the bible lesson together. It's a very calming, relaxing way to be together."

"Make time - even if it means declining invitations from family and friends. If financially possible, one parent should be home with pre-school children - possibly both is the hours can be worked out. There is no substitute for raising your own child - the day in, day out `job' is its own reward for paren and child."

"As much as we'd like, extra time will not magically appear. An effort to make it happen is needed. Being a working mother, gone from the house for 9 hours a day, I refuse to come home and give household chores priority over time with my child. While my child (7 1/2 months) is awake, I spend time strictly with him, playing, reading, taking walks, whatever. Time for doing dishes, laundry, picking up the house, or grocery shopping are done while he's napping or after he's down for the night. Yes, some days I'm exhausted when I hit the bed, but when he's grown and off doing things with his friends, I'll be glad I spent that time with him that I did and hopefully he'll remember the fun times we spent together too. I hope too that it will instill in him that I'll always be here when/if he ever needs me. Kids grow up too fast and these younger years are too precious to be too busy."

"When I was pregnant, I doubled recipes, ate some and froze some, so I had a stock of `microwave & eat' dinners. Until the baby was crawling, I didn't clean much."

"Do things that are essential and let optional chores slide as long as possible. Set aside time for kids and family uninterrupted by anything. Use the answering machine and ignore the phone."

"It's amazing how much time you really have, time that gets wasted. Setting aside time for the family can create time you didn't think you had."

"Unfortunately, society is not geared for family time. We (my husband and I) feel that if your job takes too much of your time and your boss is unconcerned and uncompromising, then think about changing jobs. Work is probably the biggest `culprit' in robbing our family of together time. However, most important is to make a concerted effort to allow family time. We struggled many weeks before finding the specific day designated for just family time. We even cut sleep time (ours) a little each night or morning to allow more time together. And let the house go, sometimes!"

"Turn off the television! It surprises parents how many more hours they suddenly have to spend with their families. I know some people who actually sold their TV and they are living happily ever after."

( What advice would you most like to give about experiencing life with a new baby?"
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