Tips For Busy Working Parents: How To Maximize Family Time With Your Child

If you’re a parent with a busy career and a thriving family, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes by all you have to do. You want to spend meaningful time with your children, and not just collapse on the couch, order a movie on pay-per-view and call it togetherness, right?

Not to worry! We have some suggestions for ways to make the most of those precious moments you get to spend with your child. Whether you combine doing chores with baking cookies or head to a natural history museum, carving out time to spend with your child may not be as challenging as you think.

1. Get them involved in making meals.

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It’s amazing how much chat goes on when your little one is washing vegetables, your teen is setting the dinner table and you’re prepping a chicken to roast in the oven. Hearing about your children’s day, who they saw and what they did at kindergarten or high school, fosters familial intimacy. It also reminds them how much you love and care about them. If meals are a task your nanny usually takes care of, suggest you’ll take over one of the weekend meals. That lends it a sense of occasion, particularly if you’re not able to get home from the office early during the week. Family time does not have to mean doing something extravagant – if you handle it well, even making dinner can feel special.

2. Turn your devices off for several hours.

This is a tricky ask, we know, especially if your responsibilities at work demand that you’re available or on call a lot. However, with a little planning it can be done. Tell your co-workers and your assistant that you need two or three hours “out of range” one evening a week, and make it clear no one is to get in touch unless it’s an absolute emergency. Doing this has a bonus effect: your child is more likely to turn off their phone when asked if they know you’ve done it. Imagine two or three hours with your teenager without a single cell phone ping! Pure parental bliss!

3. Ask for extra help from your nanny when planning a special outing.

Decide on an event the family wants to do together — a dinosaur museum visit, for example, and a meal out at a favorite restaurant– anything you know your family will love. Ask your nanny to help your child get ready so that everyone is dressed and set to go on time. As long as it’s an event the whole family is looking forward to (a concert? A day of downhill skiing?) it is bound to be an enjoyable time for everyone, one that will create lasting, fond memories.

4. If you do the cooking, do it in batches.

Any time-saving strategies like this that you can employ will free up time to spend with the family. If you do the family cooking, make things in double batches – lasagne, chili, casseroles – and freeze the extras. Doing this gives you precious minutes at the end of a long day to spend with your child, as all you have to do for dinner is pop it in the oven to warm and then make a green salad on the side.

5. Order groceries and drugstore supplies online.

Before the pandemic, lots of people made Saturday the day the family headed out to do all the grocery shopping and other errands. But when the pandemic hit, many stores pivoted quickly so people could order their food and other household supplies online. Continuing that habit saves you a substantial amount of time. Some errands don’t lend themselves well to online shopping, like visiting the neighborhood butcher or fresh fish market, but many do. Food shopping, banking, and even online ordering for laundry and diaper services are all terrific time savers. Take advantage of the services that pick up and deliver and you’ll be surprised how much time you’ve banked. Time that you can then spend reading a book with your child, or walking to the local park.

6. Make doing chores together fun.

Admittedly no one likes spending their Saturday afternoon cleaning out the garage or tidying up their room, and we don’t define this as “quality time” exactly. But parents can make these tasks less onerous in several simple ways. Put on some music and dance with your little one while they pick up toys and put them away in their toy box. Be in a good mood — smile, laugh and promise your teen you won’t grill them about the date they went on the night before. If you don’t seem to mind the chore, your children will not mind them as much either. (One caveat here: don’t promise things in return for doing these chores – after all, these are responsibilities everyone has to manage sooner or later, and rewarding children for doing them creates resentment).

7. Keep working from home a day or two a week. 

If the pandemic is helpful in any respect, it is that it has demonstrated how many professionals can work from home and still be highly productive. Talk to your boss about taking an afternoon a week to continue working from home, and she will no doubt be happy to alter your schedule. Take a break just long enough to pick your toddler up from preschool – they will be thrilled to spend some quality time with their parent one or two days a week.

spend with their child, no matter how well-intentioned and determined they are. Work, house duties and extended family all make demands on your time, too. But none of them are as important as your child. The time you spend with your little one or teenager today is an investment in the bond between you, the one that exists right now and the one that will exist in the coming years.

They will remember the time you spent together, more so than the specific activities you engaged in. Just being with them, talking, hugging them and showing love, are what they will recall the most vividly, and what they will cherish the most vividly, too.