It's the quality you put into your interactions with your kids that matter. Not the hours.
While each situation has its pros and cons, I miss the time I had to play with my child when I was a stay-at-home mom. To add salt to the wound, as a divorced mom I have to split my time with my daughter even further. It often feels as if my time with her was cut by 75 percent. And each weekend I have with her seems to whiz by.
When I tell you that even eating breakfast with my daughter is a delight, I'm not lying. With my work schedule and custody schedule, I live against the clock.
A big challenge for any parent—but especially a working parent who's not home for one-on-one time with the children—is finding time to play with your little ones. Weekends aren't just for playtime—they're for errands, homework if your children are old enough, couple time (if you're married), and then some. You often feel as if you're stuffing a life into short sprints of time.
This is where that serious working parent guilt comes into play.
Reminder to working moms: "It's quality and not quantity." You could sit down with your child every day from 9 to 5 and if you simply stared at your kid, what much good would it be? Not much.
To all parents, working or not: it's the quality you put into your interactions with your kids that matter. Not the hours.
For those of you working against the clock, here are ways to make more time to play with your child as a working mom:
1. Hire some help.
Money is tight for many of us—as a single parent, I get it! But sometimes, it's worth it to shell out a few dollars to get back something that is impossible to buy or reproduce—time with our children.
Every weekend I have my daughter, if it's jam-packed, I pay the babysitter to come. I can go food shopping on a Sunday night while she's asleep or give her a bath, leaving me more time during the day to play, instead of rushing my daughter to multiple errands.
The bottom line is, I don't spend a ton of money to accomplish this (food shopping is a quick trip), and I get something more worthy than gold—time to play with my daughter.
Don't feel bad for hiring help—whether it's to clean house or perhaps ordering groceries in rather than going out— so you can maximize time with your child.
2. Use the night shift.
If you have a partner or help, push things to your nighttime hours—like answering work emails, doing work, laundry, cooking, etc.
Will you be tired? Yes, but leaving the daytime hours you have free to be silly with your kiddos is worth the fatigue. Besides, we're moms and being tired is part of the job description. And you can always do your laundry at any time of the day, but your child won't be awake for a tea party or to build a castle out of blocks at midnight. So, use your time wisely.
3. Silence the phone.
It works for me—silence your tech gadgets for a period of time over the weekend (or all weekend, if you can take it) in order to focus on strictly the kids (and your partner, if you have one) for the weekend.
Social media, work emails, phone calls, and other "alarms" from gadgets and conversations will take away more minutes than you realize. And a browse through Facebook could take away an easy 30 minutes when you could be coloring or baking with your littles.
This isn't to shame anyone who wants to talk to their friends or FB until the cows come home. Quite frankly, I love social media and talking to my friends. But, when my girl is with me on a weekend everyone can wait until it's evening. More time goes by when you answer emails and make quick calls than you think.
And don't ever feel upset or guilty about wanting a life that's outside of your "mom role," but divvy up your time to make sure you make the most of the time you've got with the kids.
4. Make games out of everything.
I've had to get creative at making a game out of everything—although, I could still use some brushing up! Car rides come complete with games that my daughter and I play together. Find ways to make errands a game. And even though it's not the same as brushing Barbie's hair, your kids will remember they had fun with their mom!
5. Section off the house.
One of the weekend's biggest time suckers? Cleaning the house.
It's very hard for me, as a neatnik, to turn the other cheek on a dusty shelf. But, I had to find a way to make sure not every weekend with my daughter became, "Let's make the house sparkle." Instead, I pick certain chores to do each weekend and leave the others for the following—dividing up the chores and leaving more room for weekend fun.
This also meant cleaning at night or early in the morning before she wakes. Is it fun to scrub toilets at 10 at night or 5 in the morning? No, but it saves me precious weekend time.
6. Don't be afraid to say no.
I started saying no to playdates and events. Does it stink to disappoint people? Yes, but my time is precious with my daughter. And by doing too many events or activities, it meant we had little one-on-one time.
Even if you've got five kids, taking the time to do something with just them and saying no to events now and then won't hurt anyone and will only help you feel good about getting to be with your children.
Moms bulk up their schedules by saying yes too often. Saying no and providing balance in your life is smart.
7. Get some homework help.
If you have a school-age child who hates doing homework, get some help. Hire a tutor or loved adult that your kid respects. Then, you can run errands for two hours while someone else helps with homework. This will leave the rest of the day for you to enjoy your kid instead of pulling out your hair over math homework.
You can also schedule the person to do work with your kiddo over the weekday to leave the weekend somewhat free. As a former private tutor, I can tell you that most kids will perform better for us than you! Of course, it's an expense. So, budget wisely and use only when needed.
8. Recognize the power of free time—whether it's a lot or a little.
You can have time on your hands and do nothing with it or you can have seconds to spare and make magic in that time. Recognize that just because you're not around as much as a working parent, it doesn't mean that your impact is less or that you're not the biggest star in your kids' lives.
Whether it's 50 hours or five, the time you invest in your child will plant the seeds of love and self-esteem with each good interaction. And if you've got time to spare, you can leave the impression of a lifetime. Water the seeds of love in your kid by making the seconds and minutes matter.
Childhood only happens once—let's make it one to remember for our children and ourselves!
This article was originally published at Popsugar. Reprinted with permission from the author.