Reading a bedtime story to your child every night at 8pm might not be possible if you work an alternating work schedule that gets you out of the door before she’s home from school and gets you back at your home after she’s in bed. You may miss dinner times, homework, or other important aspects of your child’s days on a great deal of occasions, and if you’re like most people, a simple change in occupation might not be a feasible fix for that. Don’t feel guilty that your occupation takes you away from your child or children on most days. There are some ways you can boost the quality of the time you do have with your child without become jobless.
Go Week by Week for Alternating Schedules.
Some people work odd shifts on a regular basis. It’s less difficult to come up with a family-time routine when you know you’ll be home every Wednesday and Saturday night; however; if your work schedule changes on a regular basis, being able to say, “Wednesday nights are game nights,” isn’t going to work. It’s okay, though. Relax and go week by week.
As soon as you know what your schedule is for the week, think about what kind of time you will have with your children. For example, if you will be working nights every night except for two or three days, figure out when you will be home and what you can do with your children. Even general tasks can blossom into quality time with your children. If the only time you will have with your children will be in the mornings during the week, take that as an opportunity to have breakfast time with them. Get them involved. Make sure they understand certain aspects of what your responsibilities to your job are and how to help you spend time with them.
Know that you may be with them for some mornings, some nights, and one weekend day. If that’s the case, use the following tips for those times of the week. A combination plan will give you great quality time with them.
Home for the mornings?
Make sure everything is ready the night before so that you can spend the most time you can with them the next day. If that means you have to get lunches prepared one morning in advance, then do it. Have clothes lined up (you can ask your kids to help with this a day or even week early.
Make breakfast fun for this week. Have your kids help mix the pancake mix with food dye. Read a story to them while they eat their breakfast. Walk with them to the bus stop.
Review homework before they go to school. Have a quick game to get them mentally prepared for the day. If you are the one coaching them for their school day, they’ll be confident that you’re with them through anything, despite having to stay with a babysitter, grandparent, or other parent for the nights.
Home for the nights?
Most of us don’t get the privilege of being with our children every night; however, for those nights that we are there with them, we have a great opportunity to wrap up their day and send them into a comforted dream.
Read to small children with an expressive voice! If you can find stories by the chapter, you’re in luck!! Being able to continue with a story is a great way to tie up those gaps of not being with your child. If you have to read Chapter 1 on Monday, then Chapter 2 on Thursday, you’re giving your child something to look forward to when spending time with you.
Play video games with your kid! That’s right. This activity is best for older children, but can even work with smaller children. Who can resist a two-player game? Why, if you can get involved in this activity with your kid, you have a leg up on many parents who don’t fight to find time with their child. If you’re new to video games, you’ll find them pretty fun. You want to be involved in these types of solitary activities, such as video game playing and Internet activity. You really should be aware of the kinds of media your child is being exposed to, especially if he is going to be exposed to them on a regular basis. You can make this an enjoyable activity for you and your child while discussing some of the aspects of pop-culture and media, making sure your child isn’t being desensitized to violence or nudity. In short, you’ll be an active censor for your child while spending some awesome time with him.
Most definitely, get involved in homework time!! This may sound pretty simple and obvious, but especially when it comes to the older children, over-worked parents may leave this responsibility totally on the child. Don’t do it!! You don’t have to do research for your child, nor should you edit their papers for them. Ask them questions. Find out what their homework assignments are and how interested they are in them. Ask your child if they are having any troubles and what they are doing to solve those problems. This is the perfect opportunity to make learning fun for your child. If you have a night off, you can come up with creative ways to get your child more involved with the subject. If you child tells you he has a history project due next week on the civil war, you can look at your schedule and see if you can take him to the civil war museum, watch a movie on the subject, or read civil war-inspired poetry.
Home for the Weekends?
You’re lucky if you have an entire weekend off. If you don’t, you can still have some good weekend time with your kids. They’ll be home all day on these days, so no matter what time of the day you have off, you should be able to find a good time for them.
Parks, lakes, beaches, museums, movie theaters, shopping, and the back yard are all great places to spend time with your little one.
Pic-nic or Barbecue? If you’re not only working a lot of shifts but are a little low on cash, a pic-nic is a fun way to spend the day. Sports games and a basket of yummy sandwiches can bring a family together. Whether you have to have an early pic-nic or an evening pic-nic, depending on your schedule, you’ll be having quality time with the kids.
Some General Tips
Make time for yourself! You could erase your own identity by going to work, coming home for homework and kid games, then sleeping, then going right back to work. Be sure to schedule it, though. What do you like to do? Whether you like to watch your favorite player or team while drinking a beer on the couch or you like to paint by numbers, be sure to figure out when you can do these things.
*Avoid letting yourself sink into yourself. It’s very easy to want to come home and zone out in your own little world. Be sure to engage in your own little pleasures when you have the time. If you happen to be off while the kids are in school, take care of personal business then have fun watching the game, your stories, or whatever it is you like to do. You can also wait for your kids to be asleep! There’s more time in a day than one realizes, except when one is working twelve or more hour shifts. In that case, you’ll have to work with your days off, which should be more than two days a week, hopefully.
Involve your kids in your errands. If it seems as though your off time is too consumed with errands to be able to play board games, puppets, or whatever squirrelly things you can think of with them, make errand time family time. Jump in the car and sing songs on the way to the bank. If that’s too weird for you, just talk to them. Give your kids each a list of items you need at the grocery store and make shopping time go by with more fun and with less time. Fold clothes together and see who can fold the most in a certain time. Set a timer!
The bottom line is this: you can’t continue feeling guilty that you don’t have as much time with your kids as you wish. It’s much easier to say, “Get a job with better hours,” than it is to find one, though it doesn’t hurt to look for one. Unfortunately, even highly trained professionals end up with some bad work schedules. You aren’t alone. Exploit every moment you have with your child, no matter how mundane the task is, or how short your time is. As long as you guide your child, show him or her you love him, and continue showing him that you understand how valuable time is with him or her, you’re doing one fine job as a parent.