I am the mother of 3 children 4 to 16 years old, run my own business and my husband works away on a 10/4 roster. I have become a master blender; that means knowing what activities I can ‘blend’ to make sure that everyone’s needs and wants are met. I have also become very aware of what situations and tasks could not be blended as they needed my full attention. I then created a very flexible routine around this. It seems to work most of the time, and as my children grow I change where required to fit with their needs and values at the current age stage.
I will outline different blending activities, as well as what I have found are full focus times. I will also attempt to age group, as there are different needs at different ages.
- Baking and cooking together. They love standing on a chair, watching, stirring and touching. Give them their own bowl and let them go for it. They may make a bit of mess, however you have got your kitchen tasks done and had a chat along the way.
- Walking (either pram-ing it or on their little bikes). Great way to get out, get exercise and talk about bugs, butterflies, birds and trees.
- Get together with friends at the park. Big people and little people combination time!
- Reading a book. Don’t forget all important tickle time and share laughing.
- From about 3 let them help you clean. Give them their own cloth and/or bucket of plain water and guide them through the task.
- Sing and dance together.
Activities for primary school ages-
- Baking and cooking again. Both my older children can bake and make a couple of main meals. Very helpful on make your own dinner night!
- Get out and kick a ball or play catch. Great for developing their skills and revisiting yours, and lots of laughing.
- When at sporting practice, catch up with new and old friends, take a book you have been meaning to read or listen to your iPod. Remember to be watching them too!
- For girls brush their hair and style it, play make up and swap foot massages.
- For boys, lots of hugs, draw monsters and aliens, and play a video game occasionally.
- Play cards and board games that are simple and made for their age. It can be a quick game or longer. The point is to learn, laugh and connect.
- Read with them. Have a time each week where you all lay out on your bed or a mat and read. Each one of you has your own book, it is just quiet time spent together.
- Watch movies with them, age appropriately and really or pretend to enjoy them! Bring out the popcorn, blankets and turn the lights out.
Activities for high school ages-
- Afternoon snacks around the bench. Great time to chat about their day. They probably won’t move whilst food is there.
- Go out to dinner and movies. Take them to movies they want to see, and make it special by going to a ‘big’ people’s dinner place; rather than McDonalds or the like.
- Play cards and board games. It can be a quick game or longer. The point is to learn, laugh and connect.
- Just be there. The most important thing is to be there for your pre-teen and teen. Be present. Talk to them about you and your day. Don’t expect lots of conversation, however be open for it.
- Shopping – Especially for girls!
- Extreme days out. Try rock climbing, abseiling, swimming at a waterhole, or something in your area that is different. Their curiosity will get them wanting to join you and join in.
- Have 2 computers in your home office/work area. When you have to work or check emails or the like, the kids can be there with you. They may share what they are doing, ask for help with homework or talk about music they like. You can connect and still be doing your stuff too.
- Offer to do pick up’s and drop offs to their ‘goings on’. Allow it to fit into your schedule as much as possible. The purpose of this is if you are on the way out or in any way it is a perfect time to be in touch with what they are up to, meet the friends, chat in the car (they can’t get out) and show your support to their world.
With all my children I make time each day with each one (sometimes only a few minutes). I clear my mind and am completely focused on them and what they would like to talk about. This may need encouragement, however they know in that moment I am just with them, for them, in a way that is meaningful for them. I am all ears, eyes and heart. This is the time I enjoy the most.
Kirsty O’Callaghan is a family and relationships Expert and has been professionally involved in the business of inspiring and guiding others to live more positively, less stressfully and with more health and happiness for well over a decade. Kirsty has an amazing passion, a never give up attitude, and enthusiasm for everything she does and is well positioned to share with your her knowledge, experience and expertise.