I have been thinking a lot about family time over the last few months and doing some research on how to really capture these moments with our children.  I think I may be feeling a bit nostalgic about my kids growing up. 10 Places to Look for More Family Time When they were little, we spent a ton of time together out of necessity.  They needed me all the time and I was there.  As they get older, their need for my care has diminished and so has the obligatory time I spend with them. As parents, we relish this independence.  As parents, we miss that after-bath snuggle, the tickle as we strap them into a carseat, and the giggle while chopping up their food. We don’t need to have our kids regress to spend time with them, we just need to get creative!

Here are 10 places to look for a little extra family time:

1.  The car – Turn off distractions and chat.  This is one time when your kids are held captive for the length of the trip.  They aren’t facing you directly, so often they feel more open to talking about things they wouldn’t say otherwise.  I have boys so most of the responses to my questions are one word answers, but they will talk amongst themselves in a more elaborate way.  I am an observer of this activity and they don’t even seem to mind if I jump in with a playful tone.  Keep interjections upbeat and funny.  Don’t tackle the serious in this situation, just play along. 2.  Bedtime – Tucking them in at night may have gone by the wayside, but stopping by their room at bedtime and reminding them how much you love them is still well-received.  Who doesn’t want to go to bed feeling loved?  My boys still like the tradition of our good night prayer.  It is the same prayer we have recited nightly for 13 years.  If I walk out of the room, there will be choruses of “you forgot the prayer”!  Big boys don’t seem to mind the child’s prayer because it is a family tradition. 3.  Breakfast – Breakfast seems to be the only meal of the day that everyone is there without effort.  Sometimes my husband has already started work, but the boys and I are all in the kitchen at the same time.  Budgeting for a little extra time at breakfast gives me some additional time with the boys before they go to school or start on their day.  Having a special treat or making waffles is also a big hit and starts the day off with a smile. 4.  Lunch-making time – It has been my kids’ responsibility to make their own school lunches for years, but they NEVER complain about a little extra help.  I like to offer my help once they get started and they voice their appreciation.  They are involved in choosing lunch options at the grocery store.  They know where to find things in the pantry.  They help me make lunch items ahead and freeze them.  All these things keep them independent in packing a lunch, but I get to be part of it as well. 5.  Waiting time – You know those moments when you are somewhere waiting.  It may be watching for a child to be done at a sports practice or music lesson.  It may be 15 minutes before school is let out that you arrived earlier than you expected.  It might be a small room at a car repair shop while your oil gets changed.  Often I will have at least one child with me in any of these situations.  These are really good moments to have some one-on-one time and make the wait meaningful.  A stop to pick up a bowl of ice cream to share, a game of I Spy {or as the kids get older a 2 person game on smart phone}, or people watching together whispering to each other imaginary backstories can make the wait the best part of the day. family 6.  Social media/online time – It is so easy to get sucked into social media and before you know it 2 hours has passed.  You start out trying to find out when you are scheduled to meet a friend for lunch and before you know it you are reading about how a friend from high school just spent the week at a tropical oasis.  You start out searching Pinterest for a recipe you pinned that would be perfect for dinner and before you know it you have a whole new board dedicated to Star Wars Birthday Party ideas.  You check out your favorite blog which had the best list of places you need to visit before you die and before you know it you have fully researched accommodations in Dubai.  Sometimes these online adventures are at the cost of time spent with family.  If that is the case, set a timer.  You have one on your phone.  Set it for a time appropriate for the task at hand and then get up when it goes off. 7.  Homework time – Even kids who are completely in charge of their own work appreciate bouncing ideas off of a trusted source.  Asking kids about their homework and how it is going can get a conversation started.  One of my approaches has been to ask my 12-year-old what his hardest assignment is for that day.  He is usually more than willing to give me a blow by blow account of how a particular assignment is really difficult.  It opens the door for discussions on how to make the task manageable.  Sometimes there is even a way I can be of assistance without taking over or doing his work like being an audience for a speech presentation practice or finding some supplies that would make the assignment completion faster. 8.  Random evening at home – You know those evenings when everyone comes home exhausted.  Choose one of those to insert a little fun.  Turn off the TV and video games and choose something that the kids really enjoy.  One of our family’s favorite things to do is to turn off all the lights in the entire house and get out the laser guns.  We play teams.  My husband and I against the three boys.  There is a mad rush around the house to find the perfect hiding place or shooting vantage point.  For the first year, my husband and I dominated.  We had family bragging rights and might have mentioned our undisputed victory in the sport a few hundred times.  Since that year, the boys have gotten more strategic and I can’t remember the last time we won.  Now they are doing the trash talking!  Don’t tell them that it warms my motherly heart to see the three of them work together as a team even at our expense! 9.  Kid date – Taking one of the kids out to do something special with just one parent is a huge treat in our house.  I had never realized what a positive thing it was to spend one-on-one time playing together until we purchased 2 season tickets to our local MLB team, the Rangers.  There are 5 in our family and we have 2 tickets.  At first I thought that was a little weird, but it has worked out amazingly.  The boys rotate going with whichever adult can go.  Tonight my husband is at the game with my 12-year-old.  What started out as me telling him about the game {with the little knowledge I have} has grown into him telling me all the stats and predictions that come along with baseball fandom.  The conversations that I have had with each of my boys over baseball is a treasure.  Find a passion that can be shared and then exploit it as a special outing. 10.  Hugging time – I read somewhere that kids need 17 hugs a day.  I know that mine don’t regularly get that many, but I try!  I am curtailing the hugging in public by their request due to the intense embarrassment of a motherly hug, but at home it is open season on hugs.  By consciously trying to increase the amount of times I give them a positive interaction through a hug, I have seen a change in all of us.  I am more connected with them, they are less likely to dodge a hung and sometimes they will even initiate it! Sneaking in some intention time with family – together or with whomever is available – is worth the effort.  They grow fast and I want to be part of that process! I have recently written several other family time articles {obviously something I am passionate about right now!}:

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  1. You are so right about how nostalgic we can become when our littles grow up. I seem to want to hang on to everything they touch, as if that will keep them in my arms just a little bit longer. Funny, how parenthood is a process for us, too. Thanks for great tips on keeping our lives entwined and thriving!