How to Hug Your Kids Instead of Your To Do List

Your mind is spinning – you’ve got a million things to get done, half a million of them are priorities, oh, and your kids are growing faster than you thought possible.  You read about “being present” and “enjoying the moment” and “living for today” but how the heck do you do that when you really just want 10 minutes to yourself to clear your head?
How to Hug Your Kids Instead of Your To Do List

Put Down the To Do List

I don’t have a magical answer for you, but as a work at home mom I’ve had to practice finding ways to set down the to do list and become present with my kids.   I have a few simple ideas to share.  When I remember to do these things it helps me be present and focus energy on what matters most to me in my busy life.

My to do list will never be done, but my kids will grow up.

7 Tips for Hugging Your Kids Instead of Your To Do List:

1. Take a deep breath and notice the details of the moment – When your mind is spinning, but you want to bring yourself into the moment, try taking a breath (or ten) and noticing: what is your child saying?  How does her voice sound?  How does she move?  What do you want to remember about the way she is right now?

Karen P. – When it all gets to be too much, STOP and play or get outside, breath, take five, reflect and chill. The rest will follow and will get done quicker and better when everyone happy.

2. Use a timer – We have a big list here of ways to connect with kids of all ages in ten minute special times.

Claire S. – Make the play time a priority and set a timer so you know it’s only 15 or 20 or 30 minutes. The kids are worth the time investment. You can also say to them “wow I really want to play with you and (not “but”) I also need to do a chore so let’s play for 15 minutes and then together we can (fold laundry, etc).” Then during and after folding laundry, reiterate how glad you are to have had the chance to play and thank the child for helping with work. “When we all work together we get the job done.”

I know, easier said than done. But your time with kids is short lived and the chores are never ending and you are modeling for THEM to put RELATIONSHIPS first before work, right?

3. Choose small rituals that  help you connect every day – the way you hug good morning, a silly song you clean up time in the afternoon, goodnight kisses.  

4. Head out of the house

Kristal K. – I get out of the house…easier to play when the dishes and laundry aren’t staring at me:)

5. Involve your kids in household tasks – working together gives your kids a chance to contribute to the family and gives you a chance to talk while you work.  Sometimes in order to get this help I’ll only ask one kid at a time, making it special time together rather than ‘everybody has to help now.’

Kristie S. – Get the kids involved as much as possible. They don’t always need to play or entertainment. They need you, so teach them to help. Let the rest of it go.

6. Write down the To Dos, but don’t be a slave to your list –   In her book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, Brigid Shulte talks about the fact that the to do list will never go away.  You can write it down to get it all out of your head, but there will always be more to do – so think of writing it down as clearing mental space rather than making a list that must be finished before you connect with your kids.

When you have that list to go back to, you can take time away from being busy with your work and know you won’t forget what you need to do when you come back to it.

7. Include your family in the discussion – let your kids and spouse know how much you want to have a connected family and what your struggles are with juggling the to-dos and the downtime.

Jillian Riley, from A Mom With a Lesson Plan – who has a great post on everyday ways to connect with your family wrote this insightful comment about juggling work and play:

We’ve been talking a lot about this actually. I was feeling like I wasn’t getting credit for the “present” times. We sat down as a family and talked about what will work for everyone. The interesting thing was my son said he wanted me to work when they go to bed… Hubby immediately said no. (of course) It opened the conversation and showed them both that I can’t be everywhere for everyone. 

We worked out a plan that worked for everyone and for the past couple of days it’s been a world of difference. My son even said, “Mom, I’m going to play Lego’s for a while. Do you want to work now?” I think having a say in the plan has helped everyone feel good about me juggling work and play.


How to Hug Your Kids Instead Of Your To Do List

Stop making it an If-Then scenario.

If we always make our life around this scenario: “If I get this done, THEN I can focus on my kids.” then we never feel satisfied that we’ve taken care of what really matters in our hearts.  Bills need to be paid, the house cleaned, dinner made, but family must also be nurtured.  That’s life – it’s messy and beautiful and, thankfully, not finished yet.

Hug your kids, not your to do list.

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  1. says

    Thank you!! Thank you thank you thank you! It was exactly what I needed to read today. I felt a little defeated today when I was awaked about 3 hours earlier than normal (I sleep in a little after I worked late the night before) and my to-do list was screaming at me while I sat on the sofa trying to stay awake and involved in my son and nieces play. No amount of coffee would wake me up fully and I had errands that needed to be ran. Well, after doing only one of the many things on my list, I thought, “forget this” and took my son to Disney World for the evening. We had a wonderful evening together even though nothing else got done. Oh well, he’ll only be one for another few weeks and then before I know it, he’ll be grown up and gone. The rest can wait. Thanks again for this. Gonna share it on my FB page!

    • says

      Thanks Erica! It’s much easier said than done, but the image of choosing to hug my kids over my to do list sometimes really helps me let go in the moment. Wishing you good sleep tonight, and I’m so glad this was inspiring for you.

    • Erin says

      Aw, I love this! We live in Southern California and go to Disneyland ALL the time :) I too, love just dropping everything and taking my 3 year old when life gets crazy!

  2. Mikey says

    Unless you have a large wallet to outsource, you can’t put off mending the leaking roof that’s damaging the house structure and wetting the kids beds. It’s an immediate family need.
    You can’t put off finishing welding up a pool fence that’s going to save your kids lives. It’s an immediate family need.
    You can’t put off getting your hands stuck in and repairing the hot water heater element, it’s an immediate family need.
    Some things just can’t wait – they have to come before recreational time with the kids

    • says

      Yes – and I fear maybe I didn’t explain myself well enough above. I think what I struggle with is know when to stop with all those things that feel like they must be done – I can wind up putting everything into that category. Both my husband and I run our own businesses. If we stop, the paycheck stops basically, so it an be easy to be ever going. What I’m learning and what I was wanting to illustrate in the post is that you’ve got to pause or the kids will be grown and your to do list will still be ongoing.
      For me this means finding ways I can include my kids in the necessary items if possible, and also reassessin from time to time to see if the things I think I’ve got to do, are really must do items, or if I’m creating busy work for myself.

  3. Kali says

    I am so behind on reading my favorite blogs, but I always find that in going back to catch up, the right message comes to me and this was it! Thank you!

  4. Anna says

    Just what I needed to read. 2/3 kids sick, husband sick. Afternoon spent at emergency yesterday my house is a mess. Too much to do but I found the time to do a 100 piece puzzle with my 5 year old. I have since gotten most things done and we had fun. Sometimes swept floors are not important and articles like yours reminds me.

  5. sujata says

    thank you Alissa 4 reminding I’m mom and its my duty to share time with’em. with my consent only, these little darlings entered this world and i owe them that incredible feeling, which they gave me & continue to give me from time to time.

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