We’d all like to have more time to spend with our kids but we just don’t. It’s hard when research shows that parental involvement plays a central role in children’s success during their school years and beyond. Fortunately, no matter how busy you are, you can still have a positive impact on your child’s social and emotional development.

1 | Little pieces of time matter

It’s not how much time you hang out with your kids that matters and there’s evidence to prove that. According to a recent study, what you’re spending your time on is more important than how much time you’re spending. In other words, quality trumps quantity, so grab little pieces of time to connect. Talk to your kids when you’re in the car. Talk about their environment and explain political events. Take them along with you so you get to hang out together. Ask them to participate in your activities.

2 | Keeps things incredibly simple

The authors of the book Simplicity Parenting argue that rituals help keep kids grounded. Establishing family routines guided by rituals frees up time and reduces stress and tension. Keeping things simple means reducing the clutter and focusing on what matters. It also means introducing routines. For example, you can simplify meals by choosing one theme for each day of the week (Monday is pasta night, Tuesday is pizza night, Wednesday is soup night, etc.) which will not only make life less overwhelming but also provide your family with routines that greatly reduce stress and anxiety.

3 | Make routines short but powerful

According to Jane Nelsen who developed the positive discipline approach, spending some time with your child every day can lead to dramatic changes, especially among high-energy kids. She suggests that each night, when putting your child to bed, you should ask him about the “saddest” and “happiest” moment of his day, then share yours.

There are many other ways you can adopt a short routine with your kids every night:

  • Tell me about something that made you laugh today
  • Tell me about your favorite part of your day
  • Tell me something that made you smile
  • Tell me something that made you sad
  • Did you laugh (smile, jump, cry…) today?

4 | Read to your kids

Reading to your kids awakens their curiosity and is likely to make them readers even beyond their childhood years. If you don’t have time to read regularly, make up stories. Can’t find the time for stories, talk to your kids. Tell them how you spent your day. Ask about theirs. Ask them what they’re reading in school. Read labels out loud. Sing songs. Encourage your kids to read by displaying books where they can see them. Offer books as presents. Hidden books get forgotten. Let your kids see you read. If you’re not into books, read magazines, poetry, newspapers. Talk about what you’re reading.

5 | Put yourself on your agenda

Have you noticed you’re crankier when you’re tired and anxious? You won’t be much good to your kids when you’re not fully present. It’s also possible to pass on your anxiety, so take care of yourself first. Find time to hang out by yourself. Do something you like. Don’t know what to do during your “me time?” Make a list of all the things you’ve always wanted to do and never had the time. 

6 | Manage your schedule like a pro

Having a to-do list won’t necessarily add more hours to your day. You need the list. Don’t spend your time on things that don’t matter. Don’t respond to the loudest distractions. Facebocrastination, (ugh, don’t you just love it!) is a real time stealer.

Getting more hours into your day basically comes down to this: you can’t spend your time on everything, and you can’t spend your time on everyone. Dare to be unavailable sometimes. Practice saying no.

7 | Don’t strive for perfection

The pressure for parents to be perfect is as high as it’s ever been. According to one study, this pressure is more common among mothers and is linked to how they think others judge their parenting skills. It also found that comparing yourself to other parents is one of the greatest recipes for disaster: when you compare yourself to others, you’re less efficient, less satisfied and more stressed. Don’t be a perfect parent, be a good parent.

8 | Get specific

Everything starts and ends with habits. You don’t start spending more time with your kids by saying “I want to spend more time with the kids,” you get specific. “I want to start reading with my kids.” Getting specific makes it easier to focus on questions such as:

  • How often?
  • For how long?
  • How many books a week?

Getting specific also enables you to accomplish small regular habits – we will read together every day for 10 minutes, or every other day, or even every Tuesday. Habits are about consistency so choose a schedule you’re comfortable with. 

We’d love to know how you find time to spend with your kids when you really don’t have the time! Let us know in the comments section.