Mama Posts

5 Ways to Optimize Time with Your Child

This post was first published on One Determined Life

Mom life is busy. Between house-work, out-of-the-home jobs, taking care of kids, and getting time with the hubby, having quality time with each kiddo can be tough. I have a specific challenge when it comes to spending time with my son: I’m a step-mom! We only get to see Charlie about every or every other month. When we do get time with him, we have to make sure we are ready! Here is everything you need to know to make every moment with your littles count.

1. Plan ahead of time

Nothing is more important than this. Have you ever been on a date that wasn’t planned out? Imagine this but with your child. The time is wasted! Now, you don’t have to do this every single day, but definitely set time aside each week or a few times a week with specific activities planned for you and your little ones.

Here is what you need to plan:

  • The activity
  • The amount of time it will take
  • What supplies you will need
  • Whether it it will happen at home or somewhere else
  • Alternative activities
  • Snacks

Things to take into consideration:

  • What does your child enjoy?
  • How much energy do YOU have?
  • What will the weather be like?
  • How will nap-time affect the activity?

If you have all of these things in mind, you’ll have a fool-proof plan! I am still perfecting learning how to plan well for our time with Charlie. However, I do follow this outline and it works well.

That being said, don’t be afraid to stray from your plan – it isn’t gospel. You and your child have needs and sometimes those needs will pop up right in the middle of your time together. That’s okay! What’s most important about your time with your child is that they know you love them.

2. Know what is appropriate for how old your child is – physically and mentally

I have found this one to be very important. Charlie is about 20 months old, but he doesn’t talk yet and isn’t very physically adventurous. So we have to plan our activities for an age a little bit younger.

I love Pinterest for finding age-appropriate activities; you can find SO many. I am currently planning Thanksgiving activities for us when we visit Charlie in California. I have fun art projects and lots of sensory activities planned.

Of course you do want to challenge your child. Help them to learn and grow!

3. Take time to get to know your child

It is important to take the time necessary to get to really know your child. Learn about their likes, their dislikes, and what they enjoy doing. This will make your time together so much better and more worthwhile. You can do this from day 1! Every mama knows their kids the best of anyone, but it gets harder as they get older. You have to actually talk to them ha!

Charlie loves to push chairs around and read books. He is a little nervous about adventuring and doing new things, but he really enjoys that, too. When you know what your child likes, you can tailor your quality time to what they love most.

4. Have the right supplies and activities ready

I cannot stress this point enough. If you don’t have the right supplies, you don’t have the wonderful time you planned for! This goes for activity-specific supplies as well as standard diaper-bag type supplies. You can find everything you need for your diaper bag in my post Diaper Bag Checklist!

Let’s break this down a bit more: if you are going to do an art project, you’ll obviously need art supplies! Paint, paper, scissors, etc. If you are going for an outing at the park, you’ll need sunscreen, a hat, some snacks, and definitely water. You never want your little to get dehydrated.

This goes along with planning ahead. For example, if you need to get something at the store, you’ll know ahead of time and won’t waste quality time frantically searching through the grocery store. I am all about planning and organization; have everything you need either laid out or packed up ready to go!

5. Don’t push your child too far

If you are doing something with your child and you notice that they are not enjoying it, stop doing it! It’s that simple. Don’t feel badly either if it’s something you thought they would love – kids are unpredictable! They may love something one day and be indifferent to it the next.

The younger they are, the shorter of an attention span they have (unless a cartoon is on tv – Charlie gets glued to that ha!). Because of this, you’ll just need to plan accordingly! With Charlie we like to plan outdoor activities; he loves to explore and there is always something new to find and play with in a new outdoor space. It was one of my favorite things to do as a little kid as well.

For these reasons, it is good to have some back up games and activities planned, like I mentioned at the beginning.

All in all…

What matters most is just spending time with your children. They are going to love and appreciate the time that you put in for them. These are guidelines for any activity you do with them – it doesn’t always have to be a grand affair! After all, the small moments are the best moments. That’s why I wanted to give you this outline; you will be able to make the small moments last.