The other night, we had the unusual experience of having time on a weeknight. We normally get home around 6:30, I make dinner while the girls do their homework, they usually have to finish their homework after dinner, I have to make lunches for the next school day, wash the dishes from dinner, get the girls ready for bed, and then just collapse.
The other day, I picked them up from school to take them to get their eyeglasses fixed. We made it home before five. It made all the difference in the world. We not only got everything done that we had to do, but when we looked up, it was only 7 pm! Still plenty of time to talk, to relax, to actually enjoy each other's company!
The very next night, my 9-year-old daughter was not at all happy to be back in our regular routine of rush rush rush. She let it be known in her own little way; not listening to me, fighting with her sister, not doing her homework. After we got through that, she broke down crying that she just wanted time to talk to me. But I'm always making dinner or helping her sister with her homework or washing dishes or cleaning up and she doesn't get to talk to me.
Of course, I assured her that if she needs to talk to me, all she has to do is tell me. Sometimes, it might have to wait until after dinner's ready or I'm done helping her sister, but I'm always here for her.
Then I stole a page from SuperNanny, which my daughter also watches (because it airs on Friday nights). I explained that unfortunately, there isn't always time during the week, or right when she needs it, so I suggested she put a Thought Box together and write down what she wants to say. On the weekends, or when we find time during the week, we can sit down together and go through the Thought Box without being rushed.
She loved the idea and rushed off to find a box. She also found one for me. I talked her out of taking it to school with her, but told her she's welcome to write anything down at school or her after-school program and put it in the box when she gets home.
I strive to keep our Sundays free. This Sunday, I look forward to sitting on the couch with my daughter, and discussing whatever she wants for as long as she wants.
Originally posted on LA Moms Blog, Jan. 20, 2010.