Mum confession: 5 ways I make an effort to spend quality time with my kids 1 year ago

Mum confession: 5 ways I make an effort to spend quality time with my kids

"The days are long, but the years are so short."

If ever there was a saying that perfectly sums up parenthood, this is it.

And it just seems to speed up as the years go by too. A few years ago my little girl started "big school," and sometimes (like just the other day) I find myself freaking out over just how it can be the start of another school year already, sure wasn't it just Christmas five minutes ago?!

Such is life as a mum. Our days are so busy and full of things to do and oversee and organise and plan that time just slips in, just like that.

Which is why, I am always arguing to anyone who will listen, it is so important to make the most of every day. To sneak in special moments, and grab every opportunity that presents itself to make magical memories with our children while they are still little (and, obviously, with older children too).

Did you, for instance, know that there are only approximately 940 Saturdays between your child being born and turning 18? That might sound like a lot, but how many have you got left?

Don't wait for days off or holidays and Sundays – quality time can – and should – be had more often than that. And the best bit? To children, spending time, undisturbed time, with you, mama, is pretty magical as it is in today's busy world, meaning, you don't have to try so hard. Sometimes simple really is better.

Need some ideas on how to spend some real quality time with the kids? Here are five activities the whole family will enjoy doing together


1. Bake

Kids love to bake – love it. And look; I know we could all do without the flour spills and the sticky frosting on every surface, but mamas, we are talking memories being made in this very moment. And also – perfecting your chocolate chip cookie recipe will take your mum game up a notch too, so win-win, no?

My own two children love nothing more donning their aprons and getting in the kitchen with me for an afternoon of baking. And guys, it doesn't even matter what you bake, it could be cookies, it could be healthy banana muffins; or even just a loaf of bread, our time in the kitchen is as much about the chats and the laughter and the bonding as it is about what we actually produce.

2. Play every day

Unlike adults, children won't come to you and say: "I missed you today," or "I had a bad day" or "let's talk, mama." Not young children, anyway. They, for the most part, will ask you to play with them.

Play is how children learn about the world, understand how things work and practice their social skills. It is paramount to their development, and as parents, we must engage in play with them if we want to connect with them.

And look; I know we all have busy days, and by the time we come home from work and have done the pick-up rounds to creche or childminders we are all pretty wiped out. But a little play is sometimes enough, five minutes, on the floor, engaging in whatever game or pretend play they are doing – and you'll soon see the difference it makes.


3. Let them help you fix things

Kids, once they get to a certain age, love to help out. It makes them feel good and helpful and big and close to you. So let them. Whether it is mending that broken bike, or painting an old chest-of-drawer or even cleaning the floors, let them help out. And while it at times might feel far more stressful to have them "help," you'll soon see how much it means to them and how great this is for that all-important parent-child bond.

4. Start a weeknight tradition and maintain it

This might seem like a pretty small thing, but family traditions like this will make up a large part of your children's memories about their childhood and their sense of belonging and security. In our house, we do Pizza Fridays and Pancake Sunday Mornings. Mostly because we all really like pizza and pancakes, but also because they have become these events that we all look forward to every week.

Getting the kids in the kitchen, chopping vegetables and flipping pancakes and setting the table, not only is it a great opportunity to get them to chat about their day, but I am also loving that I am not just instilling in them a tradition, but also, hopefully, a love of food and cooking meals from scratch.

5. Travel

Having done my fair share of backpacking adventures and travelling before having my little girl at 28, I remember worrying, at the time, how my love of travel would be hampered by now having to bring a child along too. Would long-haul just be one long nightmare? Would quirky, gorgeous boutique hotels be out of the question? Would I have to cart everything but the kitchen sink around with me in order to, you know, keep her alive and entertained?

Well, mamas, let me assure you that now, two children, many (many) flights and countries and adventures later, I still love travelling just as much. More than before. Especially in the light of the past year, where zero travelling was done, I now, more than ever, cannot wait to get us all on a flight again soon. Seeing the world, discovering new places and people and cultures, it is even more amazing when you get to do it through the eyes of your children too.

And sure it requires a little more luggage, a tad more planning or a bag of tricks for those long-haul flights, but guys, it is ALL worth it.

Don't wait for it – make those memories – now, before all those Saturdays and everydays have passed you by.