Parenting requires your full attention in so many ways, especially as your kids get older and need more guidance and support. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes you’re going to have to sacrifice time you’d like to spend doing other things to ensure they have the resources they need to grow up happy and healthy.
It can be hard to be an involved parent when you’re busy, but there are still plenty of ways to support your children through their daily lives and help them grow into independent adults. Here are seven ways to do just that.
Teach Them to Do Chores
Chores are a great way for your kids to learn and practice skills they’ll need as adults. Whether it’s making their bed, setting the table, or taking out the trash, chores teach kids how to help out around your house while also building fundamental life skills—not unlike how reading helps build their reading skills.
Kids with a regular chore schedule also tend to do better in school and feel more connected with their families. Even if chores don’t seem like a big deal now, they will be someday. Build good habits in your children early, so they can make positive contributions to their world for years to come.
Enroll Them in Aftercare
Working long hours isn’t a sign of success — it means you’re putting in extra time that could otherwise be spent with your children. It’s often difficult for parents to have it all, but consider enrolling your child in after-school care if it seems impossible for you. Let them have fun and learn new skills while allowing yourself some me-time to rest or focus and engage on other responsibilities.
Give Them Freedom
If they’re old enough, give your children some freedom. Don’t feel like you have to keep them by your side at all times. There is no better way for them to learn how to manage themselves than by giving them a little space and letting them know that you trust and will look out for them while they’re away from home. And if they are still young, don’t worry! You can always instill some rules yet give them freedom even at home — choosing their food at times or what they want to watch and even sleeping way past bedtime.
Help with Homework
Studies show that children of parents who can help with homework have significantly higher grades than those who can’t. Of course, as a child gets older, it becomes harder for parents to keep up with their studies. It can feel like there are more subjects than hours in a day!
If your child is still at school, don’t worry, there are plenty of things you can do to keep on top of their work. You can hire a tutor to help them on weekdays, and you can help them yourself over the weekend. Try to skim through their books and see their lessons to get you updated.
Take Away Their Phones
Kids today spend a crazy amount of time staring at screens — laptops, smartphones, tablets. The truth is kids don’t need a screen in front of them every minute of every day. If your kids spend too much time on their computers or cell phones and not enough time outside having fun or learning new things, consider taking away their phones for a day at least thrice a week. It can help get them used to being unplugged and allow you more quality face-to-face family time!
Have your kids help you pick a book to read. Reading together gives them a sense of pride in their reading ability and builds confidence in their reading skills while making it more likely that they will continue to read. Kids are natural mimics of their parents, so if they see you reading, they’ll likely want to follow your example. Also, kids develop critical thinking skills and build vocabulary by talking about what’s happening in books or having open discussions about characters or events.
Give Time for Just Being Kids
Raising a family can be hectic. However, despite your best efforts, there will always be times when life gets in the way. It’s important to schedule family time and ensure everyone knows that it’s not negotiable. Plan as much as possible so that you have more control over your schedule—and bring kids into conversations about scheduling as early as possible.
Being a great, involved parent is a challenge. We all wish we had more time with our kids, but that’s not possible—at least for now. You might not have enough hours in your day to spend one-on-one time with each child, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show them your love and support. Support can come in many forms: hugs, advice, stories about work or school.