I love spending quality time with my son, and the main reason I work part-time is so that I can spend that time with him.
But there’s also the reality of my other duties: housework, errands, cooking, etc. I would love to be able to just play or read to him all day, but there are other things that have to be done. I try not to let my to-do list take precedent over my relationship with him, but part of taking care of my family means fulfilling those other obligations.
I regularly struggle with the balance between being productive and being available for Aidan, and I’m not sure that any mom achieves the perfect balance. But one thing that has helped me tremendously is to stop thinking of my chores and quality time with Aidan as mutually exclusive events. I thought to myself one day, “Why does this have to be an “either/or” decision? Can I find a way to tackle my to-do list AND bond with Aidan?” So I changed the way I viewed my tasks and set about finding ways to include Aidan rather than push him away.
Here are a few ways that I’ve come up with:
4 Ways to Use Routine Chores as Quality Time
This is one of my favorite ways to include Aidan. It helps that he enjoys grocery shopping and is still content to ride in the cart! We’ll see how much I enjoy it in the coming years. 😉
As we shop, I talk to him constantly. I did this even when he was a baby, and the habit stuck. I tell him what we need to buy and why I’m making the decisions I am. We talk about colors, about things we see, and about foods that he likes. If the store isn’t busy, I will zip around corners or weave back and forth, which always makes him laugh and squeal. I know I must sound crazy to the other shoppers, but I keep a running commentary to Aidan the entire time we shop. He loves it, and it turns a mundane necessity into a fun event!
This used to be a task that I would keep Aidan away from as much as possible. After all, toddlers are not exactly great help when folding clothes! But lately I’ve been allowing for the extra time required to include him in the job, for a few reasons.
One, I’m starting the process of working myself out of a job. He will need to learn to be responsible for his own laundry one day, and I’m laying the foundation for that.
Two, it’s a chance to spend time with him while still doing something productive. Sure, it adds a little challenge to the task, but it also makes it more fun as I watch him play.
Three, it’s an opportunity to teach him concepts like colors, matching, and sorting. I’m always up for ways to turn everyday activities into educational opportunities, and folding laundry is great for that very thing!
Emptying the dishwasher
I don’t know why, but Aidan loves helping me unload the dishwasher! I’d like to think that’ll continue as he gets older, but I have a sinking feeling I better enjoy it while it lasts. ? As with the other items in this list, his “help” makes unloading take a bit longer than if I just did it myself, but I continue to let him do it for the reasons I just mentioned. As we work, he names each item; we talk about its uses, shape, and color; and we just talk in general.
Aidan has a lot of fun with this one, too. I usually give him one kind of mop or broom to push while I take another. We sing, dance, and chase each other around the room. The biggest struggle here is keeping him out of the dirt & fur piles I create, but he’s learning! His giggles and squeals are well worth the challenge.
With a little creativity and intention, even the most mundane chores can become opportunities for quality time and learning with your kids! Finding the perfect balance between productivity and quality time may never be possible, but approaching your tasks with this mindset sure does help! Granted, including little ones in your chores takes extra time, but with a little patience and the right attitude, including them in these everyday chores makes them a lot more fun!
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