While we’d all love to make more time to spend with our families it often just isn’t possible. But quality family time doesn’t have to mean everything’s put on hold. Here are some ideas.
1. Hang the laundry with the kids
Hanging the laundry out is a nice time to spend with the children together. Younger children can wash dolly clothes and peg them out themselves. Older children can learn to help, perhaps hanging out their own clothes. Especially in the summer when you’re doing this in the garden, it’s a lovely way to enjoy the sunshine together while you get on with the day’s tasks.
2. Get kids involved in the kitchen
There are loads of things children can help with in the kitchen depending on their age. Whether they’re getting involved in cooking or just laying the table, children really enjoy feeling useful. It reaffirms their role within the family unit, too.
3. Kids can help in the supermarket
Supermarkets are notoriously a stressful place to bring the kids. But go when you’re not in a rush and it can be fun! Suggest that your children each have their own shopping list to be responsible for – say one for the fruit, the other the veg. Let them choose the best items, decide how many, and work out the best prices together. Once they get used to doing this they’ll soon be a real asset to you in the process.
4. Share computer time
Computers are often antisocial. It’s so easy to each get swept up in one’s own online world. So when the children next jump onto CBBC to play a game, do your own food shopping on the laptop at the same time. Chat about what you’re getting, what they’d prefer, and ask them about the strategy they’re using to play.
5. Kids can help wash the car
Car washing is a brilliant one for the kids to spend some fun time with dad, having a giggle with all those bubbles. Do this on a relaxing Sunday so there’s plenty of time to mess around and chat. It’ll give mum a break while they’re all engrossed, too!
6. Let the kids do the washing up
Speaking of bubbles, there isn’t really any age when kids can’t have a go at washing up. Remove sharp items of course, as well as breakables for smaller children. Pop a bathroom step by the sink so they can reach. Don’t forget that waterproof apron – they’ll definitely need it! Even if initially they don’t do much other than play, they’re learning. It frees you up to get on with cooking, while spending time together catching up on each other’s news.
7. Go market shopping with the kids
Market shopping can be a really enjoyable family experience – totally unlike traipsing round department stores. There’s often plenty that’s affordable to spend pocket money on, while you get on with the serious shopping. The atmosphere is vibrant, it’s outdoors, and store holders often spoil children. You can teach them about bartering and price comparison too.
8. Vacuum cleaner fun with the kids
Vacuuming can be a pretty anti-social task, but it needn’t be. While older children should be cleaning their own bedroom, younger ones treat vacuum cleaners like big toys. Give them the nozzle instead and let them have a whale of a time cleaning up the more visible stuff. Play games and see how funny it feels on their feet and tummies. Who said housework wasn’t fun?!
9. Combine homework time
Homework can take up a big chunk of parent time, when we have plenty of our own paperwork. So sit at the table with them and open post, pay bills, read newsletters or the paper at the same time. It makes you available if they need help, while also showing them your adult responsibilities.
10. Share gardening chores
Gardening has to be the easiest family chore to share and make pleasurable. While dad mows the lawn, give smaller children scissors to trim round borders and edges. Give them their own patch or pots to mimic what you’re planting, or plant things together. Sharing time in the garden is one of the most enjoyable ways of knocking off those necessary jobs.