Enjoy quality time with kids in brief lulls of your day

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

If you’ve got 30 minutes:

Create trading cards using an interest your family members share -- antique cars, animals, hiking. Find photos of the chosen topic -- try a magazine -- and paste them to index cards or trimmed down poster board. On the back, each person can contribute tidbits on the specific item. Trade away afterward. And you can always add more.

Don’t just read a book, write and illustrate your own book. This may take a couple of 30-minute increments, but you and your children can work on a page at a time. When it’s all done, the children will love to read their story and look at their pictures before bedtime.

If you’ve got 15 minutes:

Go old school and pull out some jacks. It may sound a little too basic for today’s kids, but remember it’s something new to them. It’s a good way to teach concepts like counting and working on hand-eye coordination. Best of all, a set of jacks costs nothing compared to today’s toys.

Play family trivia asking questions that relate to your family history. This will give children a chance to learn about their roots. What country did their family come from? Where did Mom and Dad go to high school? When did Grandma and Grandpa meet? Play for points or make it a board game.

If you’ve got 5 minutes:

Notice the details with a Memory-inspired game. Let your child study you, then have them close their eyes. Make a quick alteration -- move a hair clip to the other side or take off a brooch -- and then have them name the change. You can play this at home, in an office or at the park.

Send secret messages with a family developed code. Develop a key using shapes or numbers associated with a particular letter of the alphabet together. Then using the code, write each other messages. This code can be used for months on end, or make a new one every once in a while.

If you’ve got 1 minute:

Give them a quick call. You don’t have to spend a ton of time on the phone. Just tell your family hello, you miss them and you love them. Make these calls often.

Write a quick note and drop it in their lunch. Tell your son good luck on a test, or give your daughter a surprise invite to a special one-on-one time after school. It’s sure to brighten their day.