Let’s get real here.  Parenting is hard.  Finding the right combination of keeping the house together, while working from home, while the kids are learning from home, while trying to sneak in a workout and somehow STILL trying to put meals on the table and give each kid some undivided attention – all with NO mom guilt! It’s almost impossible.

I’m exhausted just writing that.

But here’s the good news, it’s not impossible!

There a lot of ways you can spend quality time with your family without having to do anything other than what you are doing already….

Here’s 4!

Give Them The Scoop

We are all human (right?) and we like to know what to expect.  Set up your expectations for your family so you are all on the same page.  Explain to them the plan for the day, appointments, any sports or activities, important meetings for you or for them, and also when they can have free time.

In our house, we call it the Daily Scoop.  Every morning, once everyone is dressed, teeth brushed and ready to start school/work we have a quick pow wow in the front room.  I start – I tell them what we have scheduled for that day, what their day will look like, the things I have going on, and when playtime is. Then they each have a chance to share what they need/want to get done today too.  Having a plan helps to avoid the constant ‘what should we do’ or ‘when are we done’ or ‘what’s next’ questions. It also lets them know that they are important enough to be included in the plan for the day, and that their opinions matter.

Try doing this in the morning, before bed for the follow day, or use a white board if getting you all together at the same time doesn’t work for you! The goal is to make everyone informed of the day’s events!

Make Simple Things Special

Kids need to feel special once in a while. To feel like they’ve succeeded and occasionally to be recognized for it.  Hang a painting on the fridge that they made.  Create a cork board with the “weekly wows” to pin up the A+ papers that come home. Give a special privilege like choosing tonight’s movie because of an all-out effort at soccer practice… whatever it is… kids need to know that you are paying attention to their hard work.

One way that we do this is with the Red Plate.  This is so simple because – you guys – we eat dinner every day! We have a red plate that one person can earn for doing something great.  This could be all A’s on a report card, a birthday, doing something exceptionally helpful or thoughtful, or for any reason we see fit!  There are NO rules! You liked how he helped clean up the playroom? RED PLATE him! You think she has been listening really well this week? RED PLATE her! This takes almost no effort, but every time they get that red plate, they beam with pride.

Read with Them

Depending on the age of your child, this could mean a lot of different things.  My kids are 9 (almost 10), 7, and 4 years old so – clearly – there’s a wide range of reading abilities.  My kids actually do love to read. We all do.  But something I’ve been really wanting to try is a sort of book club with my kids.

Sure, we read together at night. I read to my 4 year old, my 7 year old reads to me, my 9 year old reads to himself and I read myself to sleep.  But wouldn’t it be fun if I we were all reading the same book?

A classic that might be great across all ages is “The Indian In the Cupboard” by Lynne Reid Banks. The best part is, you can watch the movie when you complete the book! Ok it might be an oldie but goodie – instead here is a list of some more recent books for family book club!

Roses and Thorns

Everyone likes a chance to talk about their day.  I know I do… I usually do it over a glass of wine with my husband after the kids are in bed, but that’s just me!

The kids are no different (sans the wine).  They have busy days with thoughts and fears and wants and needs – but sometimes they just need a little prompt to start talking about them. You can check out the whole blog on Rose and Thorn here, but I didn’t want to leave this out because I think it is so important!

Try this at dinner tonight… go around the table and encourage everyone say their: 1) Rose – best part about their day, and 2) Thorn – worst part of the day! We have added on several times since that last blog was written, we now also say our “rosebud” which is one way that we helped, or were helped by, someone.  You can add on your own variations for whatever suits you!  The part that matters is that everyone is talking, learning about one another and having a chance to say what they feel they need to say.

Listen, it doesn’t have to be perfect.  I know, at least for us, many days end with a messy house, exhausted parents, snack wrappers left on the floor and a puppy that needs a walk. But you do the best you can and if each day, you can find just one way to make your kids feel a little extra love, special and lifted up, then I think you’re doing just fine.

After all, Parenting.  Is.  Hard.  But you got this.

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