When we’re spending so much time together, it can be difficult to find a balance between work and play, and “me” and “we” time. Young children especially may not understand why you cannot play with them right now. Grown-ups can explain to children that sometimes family members—not just grown-ups—need quiet time to themselves in order to focus on their work or a special activity. And that we can help each other by being quiet and patient. Being intentional about quality time can help too. The resources in this bundle offer more ideas for your family to try.
Me and We Time
In this video, Abby’s mom explains that she needs some quiet time in order to focus on her important project. When Abby feels disappointed, they come up with a creative solution: each day, after their work is done, they’ll make a craft together.
- Before watching: Invite your family to share any special projects or important tasks they’re working on. Ask, “What helps you stay focused on your task? How can other family members help?”
- While you watch: Notice how Abby’s mom stays focused, and how their creative plan helps Abby wait patiently for her mom to finish working.
- After watching: Together with your child, make a list of things you enjoy doing together. Then schedule time to do a “together” activity each day.
A Balancing Act
Finding a balance between work and play, and “me” and “we” time can be especially difficult when we’re sharing a physical space all day. Young children especially may want to play with you all day, might not understand why you cannot play with them right now.
But the reality is, sometimes we’ve just got to work. And kids do too! Grown-ups can explain to children that sometimes family members—not just grown-ups—need quiet time to themselves in order to focus on their work, or school, or a special activity.
Time apart, time together
Spending time apart—or at least on opposite sides of the room—has benefits beyond just ‘getting things done.’ Time spent apart allows for individual exploration and unique experiences that can be shared with the whole family later. At the beginning of each day, talk together about what important tasks and activities you each need to or would like to do.
Then make a plan for when you’ll spend time on those things. Express your enthusiasm for their activity and let them know that you’re looking forward to hearing more about it later. You might say…
- “I’m excited to see what you create!”
- “That sounds interesting. Can you tell me more at dinnertime?”
- “I’m looking forward to our game night!”
Be sure to express gratitude, too. Say, “Thank you for being quiet for a little while. I feel happy and relieved to have this task done.” Or “I really enjoyed reading a chapter of my book, and I couldn’t have done it without you!”
Finally, perhaps after your important tasks are done, make a point to spend uninterrupted, quality time together each day. Limit distractions as much as possible. Put away your cell phone and laptop and turn the TV off. Together, you might play a favorite game, draw pictures, take a walk, play catch, or have a dance party.
If you have multiple children, rotate through activities they each enjoy. Include activities you like, too! The goal is to let each person in the family know that they are valued, that you care about their interests and wellbeing, and that you enjoy spending time with them!
Space for this, space for that
You may be using spaces in your home for many purposes throughout the day. Your kitchen table might now also serve as a workspace and a budding-artist’s studio. Your favorite TV-watching couch might now double as a comfy spot for reading and quiet time. Being clear about what your family will use each space for can really help make your days go more smoothly.
Use the graphic below to help you set some guidelines for shared spaces in your own home. Remember to keep it simple. Ask, “What do we do in this space?” “What’s one thing we cannot do in this space?” You may have to remind little ones often, and that’s okay. Visual reminders may help them remember, too.
Make Special Time
When spending much more time at home, it may be difficult for children to understand that you are not available to play throughout the day. It can help to schedule special “together time.” Create a plan with your child, highlighting the times you’ll spend together every day.
Use this graphic to help spark ideas. Then, work together to create your own custom “together time” calendar!