A few weeks ago I gave you an inside look at what my day-to-day routine looks like. I also identified that one of the major parental problems I face is that I spend too much time propelling my kids through the day and not enough enjoying the day with them.
I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to rectify this problem. While I haven’t been wholly successful, I think I’ve made some pretty good strides. For starters they have been a lot more accommodating when it comes to our routines.
I’m not sure what changes, but getting them out the door in the mornings and through dinner time in the evenings just seems easier. They are listening better, having less meltdowns, and generally more pleasant to interact with.
This may be a result of changing my own attitude towards achieving the daily tasks or it may be a new maturity in them. It is likely a combination of the two. No matter what the cause, it has allowed me to enjoy them more and not feel like I’m herding cats all day long.
What I’ve Changed
I’ve made some very deliberate changes over the past month to make sure I am enjoying my boys more. My youngest loves games. At least once a week I’ve tried to do some sort of game night with them.
For my sanity, I’ve tried to stick to games that are shorter in duration. I’d much prefer to play 4 rounds of a five-minute game than 1 round of a twenty-minute game. This strategy has also helped avoid meltdowns since we all usually win at least one of the rounds. (Below are some of the games we play in our house.)
I’ve also been more intentional about involving my kids in the things I enjoy in the evening. We are usually pretty restrictive about screen time for our kids. However, I’ve made an exception for one of my favorite winding down activities. Hidden Object games.
If things are running smoothly at bedtime, there is usually about 10-15 minutes between when my kids have gotten ready for bed (ate their snack, brushed their teeth, and put on their pajama’s) and when my wife will read them their bedtime stories.
About once a week, we’ve taken this time to play a hidden object game on the computer. It gets them out of my wife’s hair while she makes their lunches for the next day and it’s something I enjoy doing anyway. It’s been fun to involve them in this activity. Here’s a link to a kid friendly hidden object game we’ve been playing (I’m a Mac guy, sorry PC users).
What I Still Need to Change
Despite some of these victories, I still feel like I could do more. I’m still saying “No” to my kids more often than I’d like. I don’t mean the typical parental “No’s”. Like, “No you can’t have candy for breakfast” or “You have to be patient, Mom and Dad are talking now”.
I’m talking about “No, I don’t want to play catch with you” (as I scroll through my twitter feed). I’d like to eliminate this type of “No” from my kid’s experience. Enjoying them, while they still want to spend time with me, is the goal.
I’ve made progress, but still have a long way to go. My phone is one of the culprits in stealing my attention away from my kids. I’ll continue to work on this and maybe have an experimental week without my phone.
Favorite Five-Minute Games
- Spot It Jr Animals – This is one of my favorites. It is fast paced and there doesn’t seem to be much of an advantage for different age groups.
- Bounce-Off – While I feel a little like I’m preparing my kids for beer pong, this is a fun and fast game.
- Uno – It’s a classic, but usually leads to the most fights.
- Connect Four – A good introduction to thinking strategically.
- Operation – A bit morbid, but my kids seem to like it.
- Hungry Hungry Hippos – My boys loved this game when they were a little younger, but seem to have lost interest as of late.
- Mancala – A favorite from my childhood.
- Let’s Go Fishin’ – Surprisingly difficult, but gets easier once you get used to it.
I’d love to hear from you! Is your smart phone as big a distraction from family time as mine? Are there any games you’d recommend? Comment below.