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Parents Panel: How do you manage to fit in quality time with your kids?

From Star Wars viewings to cooking dinner together with pre-teens.


AS PART OF TheJournal.ie’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. With that in mind, we’ve launched TheJournal.ie Parents Panel.

This week, we’re asking our panel: How do you manage to fit in quality time with your kids?

Parents Panel All 7

Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly.

1. We team up to watch Star Wars
As a single dad with two sons, watching Star Wars or the latest action flick is always a solid bet for joint family time. I try to spend time individually with my two boys on their activities, be it soccer training with Sam or rugby with Ben, but when schedules overlap it can get chaotic.

-Derek McInerney

2. We cook dinner together
My older two girls get great fun out of helping me with the dinner. It’s a good time for chats. They’re just around the corner from puberty so I do find that they need that little bit of extra time.

- Susannah O’Brien

3. ‘Silly time’ every day
I think the kids love a few minutes of me being totally silly with them each day: tickling, rolling around on the floor, singing and dancing are all big favourites.When it comes to playing, we try and get a few minutes with each of our kids down on the floor at their level with good eye contact and one-to-one talking.

- Ross Boxshall

65D199E8-44A0-41E6-B571-50420BB956B1 Source: Ross Boxshall

4. I schedule it in
A fellow parent advised me to dedicate the first half an hour after arriving in from work to playing with my children, and I try to do that as much as I can. It helps to reduce witching hour before dinner is ready – but it does put me under pressure afterwards to get dinner on!

 - Denise 

5. Thursdays are for housework
My wife and I aim to get the housework and shopping done on a Thursday night, so that we have the weekend to do family things. We also try to make sure that we don’t take work home with us if at all possible. Home time is family time!

- Olly Keegan

6. We reclaim the weekends
With a nine-month-old baby, weekends can easily disappear to chores and dirty nappies. To avoid that happening we usually try do something together out of the house over the weekend: heading to the park, going for a coffee, visiting friends or checking out the toy store.

- Kait Quinn

IMG_3024 (1) Source: Kait Quinn

7. I work from home
My kids have grown up with me working at home. I’ve never used that as a substitute for child care, but for those little key moments in their lives, when they are not in crèche or school and they just need a parent, I’m there. It has been wonderful to see them grow up at such close quarters.

- Alan Dooley

8. Saturday is for me, Sunday is for the family
I’m currently on maternity leave and get tonnes of quality time with our little one – so weekends are for family time and some time for myself alone too. We always keep Sundays free to do something ‘fun’ whether that be a walk and lunch somewhere baby-friendly or dinner with extended family.

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- Ríona Flood

9. Three books – every single night
I read three books each night to my kids, no matter how long a day it has been. It’s such a simple thing. Sometimes it’s a chore, but it’s a time we all cuddle up together without any distractions.

-Suzie Kelly

ij Source: Denise Cumiskey

10. My two-year-old brings us all together
With such a mix of ages at home – 2, 15 and 20 – I find it hard to get us all together for family time. We tend to concentrate activities around our toddler. We sit and colour with her, play outside, go to the local park, or just watch Disney’s Frozen on repeat!

- Denise Cumiskey

11. I go for the surprise attack strategy
Unfortunately my 13 and 11-year-olds no longer find spending too much time with Mam and Dad cool. After all, we don’t come with YouTube or Netflix pre-installed. Overall, I find it best to seize chances as they come up rather than try and schedule anything. Sometimes, giving the kids too much notice means they’ll find a way to try to avoid it!

- Ken Hyland

12. When I’m with him, the phone and TV are off
I am pretty obsessed with quality time. When I leave for work in the morning my son is asleep, so after work we have max three hours together which includes cooking, dinner and bath time. For the last hour before his bedtime, I make sure I am all available for him. I don’t turn the TV on and I try not to check my phone. We play, chat, dance, sing, read, chase… anything.

- Marta Lisiecka

Stay updated by following the Family Magazine on Facebook and Twitter - and don’t forget to enter this week’s competition for a two-night getaway and dinner at the boutique Step House Hotel!

More from our Parents Panel: How do you limit screen time for your little ones?

And even more: What’s your one tip to keep kids busy over the summer?

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