4,680 vs. 1,872.
That’s how many weekdays we have vs. weekend days from our kids’ birth ‘til age 18.
Gut punch, I know.
But sometimes, we have to look at the bold facts to make us realize that even though the week presents more challenges than the weekend – like attempting to juggle our jobs, their school schedule + extra-curricular activities, family meals + the piles of dirty laundry (that somehow has a black hole only socks can fit through!) – it matters, so we must embrace the hard so we will do what matters.
Here are five ways we try to sneak in more family time during the week in our home:
Go to bed earlier.
And yes, this is simply so it’s easier to get out of bed early. But I’ve found the only way to be rested when the alarm goes off early in the morning is by going to sleep earlier. So rather than just attempting to get up early after staying up too late watching Netflix, how smooth our morning goes really starts the night before.
If I’m ready for the day before my kids are awake, that means I get to spend time with them before they leave for school, instead of starting the day rushing around and disconnected.
Do we still have crazy mornings? Sure. But they are the rare exception, not the norm. You probably don’t have a ton of time in the morning, so please don’t think this requires a four-course breakfast five days a week. But even ten minutes over a bowl of cereal together can be a relational win.
Use the car for conversation.
Drive time doesn’t have to be wasted time where the kids stare at their phones and iPads or time where you jump on the phone while they stare out the window. Time in the car is perfect for conversation. And don’t put pressure on yourself to think these conversations have to be super deep and meaningful. Any conversation is connection.
So sure, I aim for meaningful conversation. I’ll ask them to teach me something they’re learning about at school, ask what they remember about the Bible story we read the night before at bedtime or questions about their friends. But if I’m not getting anywhere, there are always a few subjects I know they’ll talk about – which means yes, sometimes, I’m having in-depth conversations about The Avengers or Star Wars at 7:30 a.m. with my five and eight year old.
I love how Sally Clarkson puts it: “If we want them to care about what matters to us, we must first care about what matters to them.”
Resist the urge to put on a podcast or the radio or jump on the phone when they’re in the car. You’ve got time after you drop them off to do that, so use the time they’re in the car with you to connect with them.
It’s easy for homework to become this “evil thing” to make our kids continue school after they’ve been academically focused for most of the day already. But we choose to take the perspective that homework is our kids’ chance to show us what they’re learning.
Homework at our house involves lots of high fives and amazement (alongside a snack!) so rather than this time being a chore, they’re excited to get it done as soon as they get home. Partially, yes, because they want to have the rest of the evening to play and relax, but also because they love to hear that we’re proud of them for the hard work they’re doing at school.
Put your phone away.
We can hide behind the excuse that we don’t have much time, but we must also take responsibility that some of the moments we miss are our own doing.
If we’re not fully present, it’s not our merely phone’s fault. So let’s refuse to unnecessarily blame technology, but do our part to remove the temptation. As much as possible, my husband and I try to put our phones on their chargers from the time we walk in the doors with our kids from school until after they go to bed.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my kids to remember me with my phone in my hands.
If you are in a position where you can’t completely abandon your phone, use tools like airplane mode or “Do Not Disturb” mode so your phone either only functions as a camera or only certain numbers can get through. Regardless of responsibility, there’s always a way to put boundaries around who can contact us during family time so we have the least amount of distractions possible.
Don’t rush bedtime.
I love how Moms on Call calls bedtime “tender time.” Read a book (or two or three!) Cuddle. Make shadow puppets on the wall. Pray with them and pray over them. Ask them questions. Tell them a story from when you were their age.
And here’s the biggest one: apologize when you fall short.
You’re not a perfect parent, and your kids don’t expect you to be perfect. But honest conversations, even if they’re hard ones, will always create deeper relationships than hypocrisy. And we can’t expect our kids to own their mistakes if we don’t own ours first.
A mentor once shared this with me: There are no do-overs in motherhood.
Look at those numbers at the top again. The days sometimes seem long, but the truth is: we really don’t have very many of them.
So let’s give it all we’ve got. I’m rooting for you!
For more information and advice from Michelle Myers, visit https://sheworkshisway.com/.