When was the last time you spent some true quality time with your kids? Actual uninterrupted time focused only on them for more than a few minutes? Moms are often responsible for so many details of family life that carving out extended periods of time together can be difficult. That’s what the Mom Challenge is all about.
I know. I have three children under 7: a first grader, a preschooler and one who is 2-going-on-20. My husband travels a lot for business, so I am the default parent by, well, default. Most of those million details fall on me: shopping, three healthy meals a day, laundry, homework help, dog care, tidying, doctor and dentist appointments, birthday party gifts and attendance, school events… Don’t get me wrong; when my husband is here, he is absolutely hands-on. But he’s often not here, so I’ve become a master multitasker, a skill many moms could hold a graduate degree in.
That multitasking is the enemy of quality time. Cooking dinner while offering homework help and tossing a load of laundry in the washer, all while your preschooler wants you to read to her is a familiar evening to many moms. Let’s be honest: Many nights, if not most, it just can’t be helped.
The thing is, it becomes a habit, even when we’re not that busy. We check email and look at Instagram on because we need a break (guilty over here!). But if we do that all the time, we could miss out on key moments with our kids that not only draw us closer, but also create great memories. Those come in handy on the really hard days when we’re ready to send everyone off to military school.
So here’s something for all of us busy moms who want — no, need — to take a breath: A #MomChallenge. We here at Thanksgiving & Co want you to carve out three separate hours between now and Mother’s Day:
One to spend in intentional play
One to help someone
One to teach your kids something awesome
And we want to see all your fun ideas, so we’re asking you to take some videos and post them to social media (more on that in a minute). I did! And you can watch it below.
Intentional play isn’t anything formal; in fact, almost all children’s play is intentional. The important part is that you are an active participant for a prolonged period of time — at least an hour. In that time, do nothing else but play. No phone (except to make your video), no quick little chores, nothing but having fun with your kids. Let them lead the play and see where they go with it!
Some ideas for intentional play:
Break out a new board game.
Play house — but you be the kid, and they, the grownups.
Build something with LEGOs.
Go to the park and play on the playground, instead of standing around chatting with the other moms.
Play with dolls.
Paint a family piece of art on a big canvas.
Save a big Amazon box and help them make it into whatever structure they dream up, like a spaceship, an airplane, a car, a boat or whatever else they think of.
Kids learn so much by watching us in our day-to-day interactions and activities, but sitting down and actually taking the time to show them how to do something is a whole new ballgame. You might play a fun game that they can then share with their friends, give them jobs around the house like folding laundry, or teach a life skill like cooking. Granted, some things can’t be taught in a single hour, but you’d be amazed at what a great start it will give them!
Ideas for intentional teaching
Show them how to:
Play a community game from childhood, such as Mother May I, Simon Says, Kick the Can and Red Rover.
Dance the Macarena, the Electric Slide, vogue. Teach your kids these dances and you’ll have lots of company on the dance floor at the next family wedding.
Climb a tree, do a cartwheel, swim a new stroke — or go for the big one: ride a bike.
Get cooking! A toddler isn’t too young to learn knife skills as they’re taught in Montessori schools. Teach them how to make a salad, or choose something a little more challenging such as brownies.
The importance of helping others is one of the greatest life lessons. Giving others a hand, even in a small way, can make all the difference to that person. Helping our communities is a responsibility we all hold. When you do it with your kids, it not only teaches the how and why, but also shows them that you think it’s important, too.
Ideas for intentional helping:
Have your kids select stuffed animals they no longer play with and donate them to a group such as the Welcome to America Project.
Spend a morning picking up trash on neighborhood streets and sidewalks.
Hold a yard sale, including items of their own that the kids pick out, and use the proceeds to purchase school supplies for their classrooms.
Pull weeds or rake leaves in the garden of an elderly, injured or ill neighbor.
Instead of presents from friends at their birthday parties, kids can collect toys for family shelters, pet supplies for rescue organizations, or canned goods for a food bank.
And of course… share and challenge your friends to partake in the challenge.
Good is contagious! Be sure to post your videos of playing, teaching and helping activities on social media with the hashtag #MomChallenge, and tag us at @homeoftheholidays. We can’t wait to see the memories you make together!