Evenings and bedtimes are stressful for working parents nowadays.
With two parents arriving home to children who have missed them all day, what do children need? Here are my top 5 tips towards better evenings with your child to ensure everyone goes to bed happy.
1. Provide some 1-1 Time
Ironically, if you offer your time on arrival to a child who has missed you all day, the rest of the evening and bedtime will be smoother. Studies show that children need eight minutes a day on time with a parent on a 1:1. Perhaps ask an older child to help and commit that they get an quarter hour before bedtime with you. Then you can offer the younger child the time. Parents tell me often how surprised they are when this child gets up and walks away happy with the time. Their need is met; they have had enough of you!
2. Engage co operation
Tell children how you feel and what you need: ‘I feel tired and I need help with dinner’. Give everyone a job and lavish them with praise. See what they have done, and not the other way around!
3. Positive Reinforcement
Catch your child being good, children love when you tell them what they have done right and they go onto do more. I have learnt from my mistakes. The first time my child hovered she was thrilled with herself until I responded ‘hang on; you missed a bit!’ She has never hovered again – children will do anything to avoid criticism. I learned to see what she had done and it encouraged her to help out more as there was no threat of criticism or rejection. ‘Thank you for putting your cup in the dishwasher that really helps me’ resulted in the bowl going in the next time.
4. Kind, firm but not cross parenting works better
- Slow down bedtime with an early wind down so bedtime is relaxing and you are not too tired to give the children the time they need.
- Set boundaries around technology (no phones 6-8pm) as children feel that your work is more important than them. It is unlikely you are paid 24/7; so leave work at work, set a time to leave work by as otherwise work expands to fit the time available and your children need time with you.
5. Prioritsing Work & Family
As a working parent, you cannot do everything, so learn to delegate, delay and dump non essentials
- Take time and space for yourself, whether a walk after bedtime with a friend to alone to clear your head or listen to music.
- Cook double amounts so you do not have to cook every night
- Iron only essentials – shirts were the only items ironed in my house for years!
- Bulk buy tins/packets
- Online shop or take one child only for 1:1 treat
- Use flexi time offered (4 day week/flexitime/parental leave)
- Use your lunch to walk, run, read, Pilates, haircut, or make calls