Now that we are well into the first half of the school year, today we have a favorite guest writer on Pensacola with Kids. Mandy B. Fernandez is a fan, a writer and most importantly a parent of two children trying to create quality time with her kids, even when it seems impossible! Mandy has some great tips for how busy parents (like us) with school age kids can create meaningful moments with our children while still maintaining the hectic schedules that back to school brings! Thanks Mandy! Be sure to read the full story and to check out her site, www.writtenbymandy.com too.
By: Mandy B. Fernandez
Now that school has been back in session for several weeks, are you finding yourself short on quality time with the kids? Days and nights are hectic with homework, extracurricular activities and chores. As a busy parent, I found myself missing valuable moments with my children. I felt guilty until I realized that even when I cannot give my family quantity, I can still offer them quality. I can create fun memories even in the hustle and bustle of our school year in several, easy ways:
1. Keep mealtimes simple during the week and prep with kids on weekends – I regularly ask my oldest child to help me meal plan and prep food ahead of time so I’m not rushing around in the mornings for breakfast or in the evenings for dinner. Together we spend an hour or two each weekend making pancakes, muffins, packing lunches and making other foods. I give my daughter a list of options and let her select one or two for the week. This makes our meal times go smoother and we can instead spend time chatting about our days. I track our meals so I can rotate the recipes every few weeks.
2. Go for a walk in the evening or at night – Unless the weather is awful, my family and I go for a stroll almost every evening after dinner. My oldest daughter loves to walk our dog. The time varies as to when we walk – at dusk or under the night stars. We have even walked the street in our pajamas! Whether you walk five minutes, twenty minutes or an hour, it does not matter. Take in the scenery. Point out nature. Discuss vocabulary words or just share stories.
3. Play a game – Even on chaotic days, I find time to play one game with my children. If my kids happen to rise earlier than usual instead of me waking them, we play a board game like Trouble or a card game such as Go Fish! While my children are getting dressed, I disappear for a few moments to play Hide and Seek. When we’re in the car driving to and from school, we play I Spy, Wacky Wednesday or read signs on the roads. I have to be more creative but I still manage to incorporate a game into our busy schedule.
4. Combine a chore with a fun activity – My kids must complete daily chores – take baths and brush their teeth. However those duties are more enjoyable if I add something fun to the mix. We read books or eat dessert in the bath. I let my girls color on the tub walls with washable crayons. My oldest daughter and I will sing silly songs while she brushes her teeth or dresses herself. We see who can climb into the car fastest and buckle in. We add a unique twist to our routine while managing to bring smiles to all our faces.
5. Put on music and dance – If all of the above fails, then I put on music and dance around with my children for a few minutes. I find tunes that we all like. We shake our bodies and act silly. Sometimes we put on costumes. If dancing doesn’t feel right on a certain day, then we choose another physical activity such as tossing a ball around, jumping rope or having a quick race in the yard. By moving around to start and end our day we all better.
These are the memories that children will remember as they grow older. If time is short, then offer your family more worthwhile, unforgettable moments for as long as it is possible.
Mandy B. Fernandez is a freelance writer living in Pensacola with her husband and two children. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in Technical Writing. Mandy has contributed articles to Gulf Coast Parent News, Natural Child magazine and other publications. She has written professionally for several companies, organizations and groups. Mandy is an active member of the Write On! Pensacola writers group. Learn more about her or see samples of her wit and work at http://www.writtenbymandy.com