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Spending Quality Time with Your Kids (When You Have No Time)

When I was pregnant with Owen I did a ton of research (on mom blogs, parenting websites and by chatting with friends) about how to prepare Olivia for becoming a sibling. As much as possible I wanted to try to limit any jealousy or rivalry that I feared would pop up when her status as an only child (*ahem* princess) for five years changed.

As it turns out the transition was relatively bump-free. She loves her little brother. She is so interested in all the new things he does. She wants to help – even though we have consciously tried to limit how much we ask her to do. Sometimes I feel she actually “over” loves him. At one point we even had to ask her to limit the kisses to 100 per day – a bit of an exaggeration but it had to be some number close to that.

Sounds like a pretty rosy nine months, huh?!?

Well, as it turns out, it’s not the typical sibling rivalry that has me struggling. It’s time (or lack of it) that has rocked my world. I can’t seem to find enough of it. I guess I discounted how much extra time I need in a day to breastfeed, keep up with laundry, prepare for daycare, run errands, etc. I must have blocked out in my brain how an infant makes all these simple activities take 5x longer.

Spending Quality Time with KidsSo when Olivia said to me recently, “Mama, I miss spending time with you,” it hit home that I was failing her and our important mother-daughter relationship.

To help out with Owen’s care and giving me some rest my husband was awesome about planning special father-daughter outings. It was great that I had that time with Owen and that Olivia got special daddy time  – wouldn’t trade either of those experiences. What we didn’t do was switch it up so we could have equal time with the kids. After all, I was feeding Owen every two hours for a while and then we sort of just got in the routine – even when Owen was able to go much longer between feedings.

I knew things had to change and a perfect opportunity presented itself. I was heading outside to plant my garden – another chore on my list – when Olivia asked to join. I was so glad for the offer of help. And, as it turns out, she taught me an important lesson that day. I realized that I missed her. I missed laughing with her. I missed being silly together. I missed just enjoying her. And I learned that it was so SO important to make time for each child – even when you feel like you have no time.

I’m still trying to adjust to our new family dynamics and balance out my work and life. But I think I’m making progress – even if it’s a quick round of Go Fish in between laundry loads!

What are some of your favorite ways to spend quality time with your children?


  1. Brenda July 21, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    We make sure each of our children have individual time with us at bedtime. They get one book read by mom and one book read by dad.

  2. Profile photo of Amy

    Amy July 31, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Love this idea Brenda – I may just borrow it!

  3. Rowena October 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    This article hit home so well! We had our 2nd two months ago and now our first daughter is nearing her 3rd birthday. I wasn’t actually surprised by the feeling of missing her – it was somehow entangled in my “baby blues” from about a month before the birth. I dreaded losing that special time where I could watch her during all the exciting changes that go on at that age! I was terrified that I’d resent the new baby because of it.

    Fortunately (of course), the new one has stolen my heart utterly (heart = 2x as big as it was, yay!), and our crazy travel schedules have forced us to learn how to spend time with both of them. For instance, this month we each have multiple 2-3 day trips where we get to single parent the girls.

    Strategies for spending time alone with them:

    1: Our house is a disaster zone. And I’m okay with that. We just try to keep it clean enough that we don’t go nuts, but it sure isn’t nice! There was no gardening, no house maintenance, nothing this year.

    2: Spoil the kids. The oldest used to love it when I’d take a bath with her, and I weaned her off of that during the pregnancy. However, now I find that it makes her so happy that I do it anyway. Can’t get much more one-on-one than building bath bubble castles while the baby sits next to us in a bouncy seat. Plus, she opens up about her day more in the bath than almost anywhere else.

    3: Trading bedtimes: When we are both in town, we alternate being the one who takes her up to bed and reads bedtime stories. We make it a game, asking her “who’s turn is it??”,and she seems to have fun teasing us, by guessing the wrong parent or saying that her sister or that cat will take her to bed. Again, that cuddle time in the bed before she falls asleep is when we talk over all the big issues, such as how she feels when we travels, some of the scary things in the news, etc.

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