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If you are anything like me, you make exercise and eating right a priority (well…most of the time). Also ranking high on that priority list, though, is taking care of the home, keeping mouths fed, making doctor’s appointments, dental check-ups, school homework and activities and my freelance writing work. With all of these self-proclaimed priorities, how are there enough hours in the day to make time to bond with the kids? And by bond, I mean really spend quality time with them – whether teaching them about their world or seeing the world through their eyes – before they “grow up?”

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My oldest son, age 6, started kindergarten this year. And for the first time since he was born, I learned the true meaning of the saying, “the days are long, but the years go by fast.” I remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. And now, I’m looking at his schoolwork, taking pride in his accomplishments and crying with him when he is hurt. My youngest son, age 4, was just born this morning… wasn’t he?

There are days when nightfall could not happen soon enough. And then there are days that seem to end way too soon. Regardless of what phase of parenthood you are trying to manage, you most likely want to spend the most time you can with your children, before they grow up, make their own circle of friends and barely stop by to say hello.

During the past six years, I have made a mental list of fruitful ways in which I can better bond with my kids. To ensure that they will tell their own “remember when” stories to their children that will hopefully include time spent with me.

Ask them about their day. But without saying, “how was your day?” Instead, try to hone in on specific issues, like, “what kind of project did you do in art class?” Or, “how many goals did you score at your soccer practice?” By asking specific questions about particular issues, you are most likely going to receive a better answer than just, “it was good.”

Take an interest. This is one that I find myself constantly needing to work on. As a woman in a house with three boys (two little ones and my husband), it’s not often easy to become engaged in a game of super heroes or Star Wars light saber wars. I would rather be using my easy bake oven or digging out my Barbie cases. But I have succumbed to the fact that I am outnumbered and by becoming involved in their activities, I also am teaching them how to take an interest in the lives of people whom they care about. I am now known by my secret identity “Diamond Mom,” mother of “Diamond Man” and “Diamond Dog.”

Incorporate special time during the week. I am a freelance health and fitness writer and can be required to talk with a client at a moment’s notice, so I try to keep one day free during the week. On this day, the boys and I go on a “field trip” to the local aviary, children’s museum, zoo or somewhere else they like to go. My goal with this day is to not only have this special time with them filled with special memories, but to take a break for myself – away from my desk – when I can fully participate in the fun with them.

>> Read more: Why Healthy Habits Are A Family Thing

Exercise. Want to know a secret? My boys LOVE to move, run and be crazy! What does that mean to me? They LOVE to exercise! Fortunately for me, my boys love to move around and be active. On some days when winter fever is at its worst, I pop in one of my easier exercise videos and watch them watching the instructor and imitating the exercise moves. And when Daddy comes home, they enjoy showing off all of their new exercises! This not only gets my heart rate going, but reinforces to them just how important it is to exercise regularly to stay healthy.

>> Read more: 10 Exercises for Beginners

This list is just some of what has been six years in the making. And I’m far from done. It will hopefully become a list that is compiled until they are married and have kids of their own. I am planning to spend quality time with them sharing this list and offering it as guidance along their own journeys as parents.

>> Read more: Family Stress: Fed Up With Frenzy


Heather Holtschlag is a freelance writer and PR consultant who resides in Pittsburgh, PA. A self-proclaimed exercise enthusiast and non-runner, Heather has competed in two half marathons and two 10K races. She enjoys getting in her morning workouts (on most days) and spending time with her two young sons and husband.