I admit it. I’m short changing my kids. I promised myself that self-employment would mean spending more time with them as I could work flexibly. Whilst it’s true that I can be there for the school run and sports day I’ve lost count of the number of times I sit next to my eldest son while he watches TV and I respond to emails or check my latest social media statistics.
Well, they say that the first stage of recovery is admitting you have a problem so at least I’ve got that bit out of the way.
Finding the good bits
I know what I need to do. Or at least I know the theory. The parenting experts will tell you that you have to be present and focussed on your child. I actually know parents who are able to do this. They tend to be the ones with only one child but that can’t be the whole story as they all have jobs as well. I can only imagine that there is a superhuman effort going on behind the scenes. Maybe the housework happens after bedtime stories.
For me it’s about finding the spaces in the day where I can simply be with my children, in whatever form that takes. When my second son came along I suddenly found that I didn’t have any time alone with my eldest. The fact that I now have time between the school run and nursery pick up where it’s just the two of us is a complete blessing. The best bit is often the walk home from school. There are no distractions and there’s no hurry. (Unless it’s raining then we just have fun running home and jumping puddles.) He can tell me about his day or any other random thing that comes into his head.
Of course, there are always days when he comes home from school completely exhausted and needs to sit on the sofa with his thumb in his mouth.
What do you need to do for your family?
I’ve talked about time blocking before and it still applies here. If you’ve got a job with set hours, go home and leave it behind. If you’re running your own business you’ll need to set those hours yourself.
Plan your time
The time that you have available to spend with your family will depend on your business, the ages of your children and what your childcare arrangements are. Mine are still young enough that there are only a few short hours between pick up time and bedtime.
So, I’ve made a plan. The phone is going off and so is my laptop. The children are (mostly) going to lead. We’ll eat when they’re ready and watch TV on the sofa if they’re tired. That’s assuming I can ever get my toddler to admit to being tired. I will play with the toys, read them stories and even engage with the plot of ‘Paw Patrol’.
I’ve got a Pinterest board full of interesting looking activities that we’ve never done. My sons’ craft projects are usually more interesting than mine anyway. My husband is also much better at activity planning than me too so we can keep the really exciting stuff for the weekend.
Wish me luck!