Parenting is a full-time job and it’s not your only responsibility, especially during the hectic holidays. If you feel like quality time with your baby or toddler is getting pushed aside as you juggle the added responsibilities of the season, here are five quick ways to sneak much-needed quality time in without adding stress or changing your routine.
Read a book
Take time to read your favorite holiday stories to your baby or toddler. I mean regular old print books, not eBooks. While the interactive components of eBooks are exciting and stimulating, research suggests that they can be distracting and get in the way of what your child comprehends.
Connect during chores
As a parent, you have a million things to get done this time of year. From baking cookies for that party tomorrow night to decorating the house, having your toddler participate is a real win-win. Think playing peek-a-boo while folding laundry, handing off non-breakable items that your little one can put away while you unload the dishwasher, or having your child help you put groceries away while you sing a holiday song.
Give your toddler 10 minutes of undivided attention
Kids crave undivided attention but honestly, it’s hard to make that happen for long periods of time every day. Carving out a few minutes a day to follow your little one’s lead in play or chit chat is a great way to stay connected. Holidays mean busy days as you’re running in five directions at once, so find just ten minutes to give to your child and know it will go a long way.
Have some fun
As a parent, you have a lot to keep track of, such as keeping your baby or toddler safe and healthy. Plus, there are holiday pageants, parties, shopping lists, and many other additional tasks during this time of year. Parenting toddlers requires you to set limits almost all of the time, but staying connected is easier if you find a way to lighten the mood. Try to laugh and let silly opportunities present themselves, knowing that you’ll get back to the routine in no time.
Say good morning and goodnight
This may seem like a no brainer, as with babies and toddlers, saying “goodnight” and “good morning” is an inevitable part of the daily routine. But, when you’re exhausted it’s easy to just go through the motions. Make the most of these moments and sneak in a few laughs, cuddles, and giggles that pave the way for meaningful connections with your child at the start and end of each day.
— Stephanie O’Leary, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in neuropsychology, a mom of two, and author of Parenting in the Real World. She provides parents with a no-nonsense approach to navigating the daily grind while preparing their child for the challenges they’ll face in the real world. Visit her online to learn more.