Did you have a good summer?
But when I sat down to write this post 11 days before my daughter started kindergarten, I was filled with a little bit of regret. You see, even though we had a great summer filled with camp and fun outings and trips to the park and snacks at Starbucks, I feel like I didn’t spend a lot of one-on-one time with my daughter. I mean, we spent TIME together, but I am the first to admit I wasn’t always 100% in the moment, if that makes any sense.
Of course, I started the summer out with great intentions. We went on an awesome family vacation as soon as preschool ended, followed by another long weekend away the weekend after we returned, and while we spent a lot of time at the splash pad and went to the Science Center a few times, I feel like we were perpetual motion machines and that I didn’t take a lot of time to just sit and enjoy my daughter’s company.
The good news is that I recognized all of this with time to spare and I feel like we ended the summer just like we started it – with lots of quality time experiencing things together while simultaneously laughing and hugging and giggling and just having fun being with each other.
And guess what?
By consciously trying to find ways to spend more time with my daughter, I actually came up with some great strategies that will help me continue this trend for years to come. And since I know I’m not the only mom out there who feels time is slipping by too quickly and regrets the days she isn’t able to be more present with her family, today I’m teaming up with Dixie® to share 5 of my best tricks to teach YOU how to spend more time with your kids
1. GET UP EARLIER
Yes. I know. I mention this all the time. But up until last week, I was only getting up before my daughter on week days, and while I enjoy having a bit of a lie-in on Saturday and Sunday mornings, I always find weekend mornings to be chaotic and stressful. So even though we didn’t need to be anywhere last week, I decided to get up before my daughter anyway. And you know what? It made such a huge difference in our day. By having 60 minutes to myself, I was able to workout, have a shower, make myself presentable, and start breakfast, and our mornings were so much smoother as a result. Not only was I less distracted, but I found I was much more spontaneous and fun without the pressure of trying to get a million things done before leaving the house at 8:25 am sharp. Oh, and full disclosure? We may have eaten breakfast in front of the TV together a few times.
2. PENCIL IN REGULAR MOM-AND-ME TIME
Before the summer, I always made it a point to designate a little mom-and-me time each day. This typically involved the 2 of us reading books in bed with my daughter’s favorite plushies for 20+ minutes after dinner each day, and often ended with a lot of tickling and giggling. I always cherished that time, and while the craziness of the summer often meant late dinners and bedtimes with little time for much else, I started the habit up again last week and I am so amazed at how good it was for both of us.
3. MAKE CHORES FUN
Like many moms I know, I have a tendency to operate on autopilot, especially when I’m in a hurry, but last week I tried my hardest to make even the most mundane tasks fun. I asked my daughter to help me put her waffles in the toaster each morning, I played peek-a-boo while folding laundry, I blasted music and danced around the kitchen while cooking, and instead of rushing through bath time, I got out all of the bath toys and let my daughter have fun. Sure, this made each chore last a little longer, but it gave the 2 of us something to do together, and I was surprised at how much more enjoyable my day was when we were working together as a team.
I have never been particularly good at asking for help, but motherhood has changed me in many ways, and when I finally learned how to delegate tasks to other people, my life became so much easier. For the last 2+ years, I’ve been sending my husband’s shirts to the dry-cleaners and having a cleaning lady come into our home once a week, and it has made such a difference on my life. And last week, I took it a step further and asked my husband to pick up odds and ends at the grocery store each evening on his way home from work. It was such a small thing to ask him to do, but saved me from dragging my 4-year-old through the grocery store, and made our afternoons much more pleasant.
5. GET OUT THE DIXIE® PRODUCTS
About 6 weeks ago, our washer and dryer broke, and after 2 failed attempts to have a new set delivered and installed, and the worst customer service experience ever, we returned our original purchase, ordered a new set from another company, and had to wait another TWO WEEKS until the new units could be delivered. During that time, we spent every Saturday and Sunday at my in-laws place doing laundry, and while I appreciated the fact that they opened their home to us and allowed us to use their washer and dryer, I did not enjoy lugging load after load of laundry to their place every weekend, nor did I care for the craziness of racing out to find food to make everyone for lunch, and then cooking in someone else’s kitchen while simultaneously running up and down to the laundry room.
And did I mention my in-laws don’t own a dishwasher??!
It has not been a fun month.
But last weekend, I tried something a little different. Rather than racing around getting all of us organized on Saturday morning, I did a little bit of prep work the night before. I gathered all of our laundry, separated it into piles, put it in bags, and loaded the bags into the car. And while I was preparing dinner, I also prepared our lunches, and when we were eating breakfast the following morning, I put our meals into lunch bags by the front door along with a bunch of Dixie® paper plates and cups.
As expected, the morning went much smoother. I found the process of doing multiple loads of laundry to be less daunting since everything had been pre-sorted, and since I was on a mission to have more fun with my daughter, I decided to setup a picnic in the living room, which took me SECONDS to prepare.
But the best part of the afternoon, in my opinion anyway, is that I was able to spend the additional time I gained from not having to worry about preparing lunch or washing dishes helping my daughter practice her drawing skills.
And when she grew tired of that, we moved to the couch to play with one of her favorite playsets, and I was amazed at how much food I was able to shovel in my picky eater’s mouth when I was engaged and paying attention.
And we had a great photo to leave as a thank you to my in-laws for letting us use their place again!
Admittedly, I used Dixie® cups quite a bit last week to save myself the hassle of doing dishes, and while we’re back to reality now that school’s in session, I have a feeling I’ll continue busting out my Dixie® stash on busy, crazy days.
Because who wants to do dishes when they don’t have to?
What are your tips and tricks for finding ways to spend more time with your kids?
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Georgia Pacific. The opinions and text are all mine.