Have you ever bitten off more than you can chew and felt so overwhelmed with it all that you’ve been unable to function?
More times than I care to admit, to be honest.
And while I’m typically good at recognizing when I’ve taken on too much and finding ways to scale back so I don’t lose my mind, our impromptu move to a new home and neighborhood with only 6 weeks left in the school year left me so out-of-control busy in the 2 months leading up to the summer holidays that I felt like I would NEVER get a handle on all of the things I needed to do.
A lot of the stuff was pretty basic – change the address on our bills, find a new pediatrician and dentist, call the cable company, unpack the million boxes in our basement, etc. – but there were a lot of more important things on my list that needed my undivided attention.
Like my daughter.
With so many things pulling at me all day long, it was tempting to call a babysitter or plop her in front of her iPad so I could power through everything as quickly as possible, but if I’ve learned anything about motherhood, it’s the importance of being present with my daughter. I don’t want her memories of her childhood to involve me hovering over my laptop or smartphone, and while I’m not perfect, I like to think I do a pretty good job of ignoring work-related tasks when I’m spending time with my little girl.
So a lot of the things on my never-ending list of things to do have fallen by the wayside in the last few months as I try to spend more quality time with my daughter as we make memories in our new home, and I feel surprisingly good about it.
As it turns out, being perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Being enough is so much better.
And with a new school year looming in the not-so-distant future, I’m trying to find ways the 2 of us can spend some good ‘ole quality time together in the few hours we share between school pickup and bedtime.
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In the past, I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to come up with elaborate mom-and-me ideas, many of which resulted in someone (often me) crying, but time and experience have taught me that spending quality time with my daughter doesn’t need to be difficult, nor does it need to cost an arm and a leg.
It just needs to be genuine.
So if you’re looking for more ways to spend quality time with your kids, I’ve gathered together 75 fabulous and inexpensive ideas to help you connect with your children and make them feel like they’re the center of your universe every. single. day.
1. Have a pillow fight
2. Organize a Minute to Win It family game night
3. Make a lemonade stand to raise funds for a good cause
4. Challenge each other to a skip rope contest
5. Get out the glow sticks, turn off the lights, and have a glow-in-the-dark party
6. Have a camp out in the backyard
7. Get out the Washable Tempra Paints and decorate the windows
8. Make giant homemade bubbles
9. Go blueberry/strawberry/cherry/apple picking and make jam
10. Work on a puzzle together
11. Make your own lava lamps
12. Have a shaving cream ‘pie’ fight
13. Play charades
14. Dress up in costumes and pretend it’s Halloween
15. Have a water balloon or snowball fight
16. Have a tickling contest
17. Teach them how to sew
18. Make a pool noodle bath pit
19. Get out some old boxes and paper towel rolls and build a fortress
20. Go on a breakfast date before school
21. Make an I Spy bottle
22. Put on a puppet show
23. Make bird feeders
24. Grab your magnifying glasses and cameras and go on a nature walk
25. Visit your local library and choose some new books together
26. Play Twister!
27. Make friendship bracelets
28. Go bowling in your living room
29. Visit a museum or local tourist attraction
30. Get creative with paints, markers, crayons, or playdoh
31. Make and fly your own kites
32. Eat dinner in bed
33. Make a masking tape speedway in your living room
34. Put on your rain boots and splash in puddles
35. Go for a drive and blow bubbles out the window
36. Get fit and unwind with a little Yoga For Families
37. Play a good old-fashioned game of tag
38. Make Origami Animals
39. Get dressed up in your Sunday Best and go out for dinner
40. Hula Hoop!
41. Let your kid(s) do your makeup
42. Do a science experiment together
43. Organize an Easter egg hunt…even if it’s not Easter
44. Roast marshmallows over the stove top and make s’mores
45. Crank the tunes and have a spur-of-the-moment dance party
46. Have a pizza-making party
47. Organize a scavenger hunt
48. Go for a swim at your local pool
49. Take public transit somewhere…just for fun
50. Watch celebrity Sesame Street music videos
51. Write a book together
52. Surprise him by delivering his favorite lunch to his classroom
53. Paint each other’s nails
54. Collect and paint rocks together
55. Play board games
56. Bake a cake!
57. Write a poem or song
58. Make Walkie Talkie cans
59. Have a staring contest and see who blinks first
60. Pop some popcorn and watch your little one’s favorite TV show or movie
61. Write and perform a song together
62. Organize a birthday party for her favorite stuffed animal
63. Make ice cream
64. Catch bugs together
65. Make a tent in the living room and read your favorite books
66. Learn to knit
67. Play dress-up and see who can stay in character the longest
68. Go for a bike ride
69. Make your own indoor mini golf course
70. Cook a meal together
71. Make a time capsule
72. Play video games
73. Get out the LEGO
74. Lie outside in the backyard at night and look for consellations together
75. Sit on the floor and play
Remember: spending quality time with your kids doesn’t need to be difficult. It just needs to be fun. So put your smartphone down, get on the floor, and play with your children. You’ll be amazed at all of the things you’ll find out about them without the distractions of your email and social media pulling at you every 5 minutes!
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