How to Squeeze in Quality Time as a Working Mom

kitchen postBeing a working mother means you sometimes get less than three hours a day to spend quality time with your children.


Monday through Friday I get less than three hours a day of actual quality time with my only child: my three-year-old daughter. I’m up at 4:30 every morning. I take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast. My husband is up at 5:30 and he follows the same routine. By 6:00, my lunch is packed, I’ve taken all my vitamins and it’s time to wake up my daughter. I typically have her dressed and ready to go by 6:15, then we’re out the door. She’s dropped off at preschool around 6:30, then we’re off to work. Between the traffic to and from work, and the actual time spent working, we do not see her again until 5:00 PM. We’re home around 5:15 and the clock starts: quality time begins NOW.

But wait. What about dinner?

*face palm*

This is where I have realized that I must get creative when it comes to spending quality time with my daughter. She is usually in bed between 7:30 and 8:00. If I spend my evening making dinner, I’ve officially missed out on an entire day of her brief childhood all because of life’s routine. Man, it hurts to just re-read that statement. I can either hang out in the kitchen by myself, cooking a nice meal for my family and missing another hour of time with her, or I can get her involved, bring her into the kitchen with me and cook with her. Of course, there are times when I just feel like putting something in the oven that is a quick, 20-minute meal, and there are many times where I use my slow cooker to save on cooking time. But in all reality, I enjoy cooking. Sometimes I need to have some quiet in the kitchen after a rough day at work, and in those moments, my gracious husband will spend time with her watching a movie or showing her the guitar. But many days, more often than not, I simply long to be with her after being away from her all day.

As a working mother, I find I often struggle with the lack of quality time I get with my daughter. While she is at daycare all day, people unrelated to her get to spend more time with her than I do. They get to experience a lot of her firsts. It’s important to me that I get to spend quality time with her, building her trust, teaching her, loving on her. But it’s also extremely important to me that I feed her well and raise her to be an adventurous eater.

Very fond memories are often born in the kitchen. I think many of us remember baking cookies and pies with Grandma at Christmastime, or building our first lasagna with mom after church, or grilling burgers with dad in the summer. Fond memories in the kitchen don’t have to be saved for special occasions and holidays—they can be had year-round!

As soon as my daughter was stable enough to stand on her own, I had her in the kitchen with me, standing on a step stool, mixing homemade pancakes, putting cheese on top of our very own pizza crust, adding more cinnamon (and uh—oops, even more) to banana muffin mix. I have found that she enjoys spending time with me in the kitchen, and no matter what it is we’re preparing, she will eat it because she helped make it and she’s proud of her culinary creation. Dinner battle? Mom wins.

I am a working mother who gets less than three hours a day, Monday through Friday, of quality time with her daughter.

As a mom, I feel it’s my duty to nurture my family in many ways. I can maximize the nurturing quality time I get with my daughter if I simply get her involved in preparing our family’s meal at the end of the day. Even if I am cooking something that involves hot oil and boiling water, it’s my duty as her mother to find a way to spend more time with her. There are things she can do away from the danger to be a big help. She can help me mix our seasonings, unwrap some butter, pour pre-measured ingredients into a bowl. Or, she can just watch me and ask 56 questions, using her sweet little three-year-old voice to tell me that the basil is green and the tomato is red, and that alligators have big tails but the sun is hiding behind the clouds.

The countdown to bedtime starts the moment we walk in the door after a long day of work and daycare, and I think most working moms can relate. How we use that time is something we will either remember forever or regret the rest of our lives. If you find that you’re spending too much time in the kitchen after work away from your children, get them involved in dinner preparation. It sounds like such a simple idea, but I find that a lot of moms do not build this moment into their weeknight routines. Not only do you get to spend an extra hour or so of quality time with your children, you’re showing them how meals are prepared and they may be more likely to eat it because they helped create it. They get the quality time they (and you) thirst for, and you win the dinner time eating battle.

Less than three hours of precious quality time a day. Life is too short for regrets.

kitchen post bioJessi is the wife to her high school sweetheart Glenn (2007) and mother to Zoey Liz, AKA “Peach” (2010). She is a marketing professional by day and nurturing mother by night, determined to not sacrifice precious motherhood for too much work. A survivor of a rare vasa previa pregnancy and premature birth, Jessi is hoping to grow her family once again and blogs about her hurdles with PCOS and TTC at Life Abundant. You can also follower her on Instagram: mojojesso.


  • Ellie says:


    Great post. I share your pain and think about this all the time, “If I spend my evening making dinner, I’ve officially missed out on an entire day … because of life’s routine. Man, it hurts to just re-read that statement.” But I love this: “How we use that time is something we will either remember forever or regret the rest of our lives.” It’s tough being a slave to the countdown or routine, but you’re 110%, it’s how we use the time we have! Zoey’s a lucky girl to have such a terrific Mom.

  • Jennifer says:

    What a beautifully written piece, Jessi! There truly is a countdown to bedtime for working moms. Some of my fondest memories with my daughter are making homemade goodies with her. I know she enjoys it, too, since she often asks me to make something!

  • Adrienne says:

    Love this post – even more so with the beginning of the school year and onslaught of after school activities I feel the pinch for quality time even more. We altered our schedules so I go into work later so my kids avoid before-care and I get to spend a little extra time with them. My husband does the afternoon routine and we’re all home for dinner. It’s a balancing act but we try to make the most of every minute. Great post!
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  • Laura says:

    I like the idea of this, and my 3.5yo does love helping in the kitchen, but I also have a 16mo who wants to eat the second we walk in the door; she also has food allergies. So dinner is challenging. My 3.5yo is also pretty picky, even when she helps make what we’re eating. Age old problem, I know. What kind of easy recipes do you make on a week night with your daughter? Can you share some?
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    • Jessi says:

      Oh wow, so sorry about the food allergies! We are discovering more and more that my daughter is very sensitive to dairy, so we’re starting to limit her exposure and that is difficult because the kid LOVES cheese and milk. She also asks for a snack before we even pull into the driveway, so I typically give her some grapes to munch on while we cook. I have found that our #1 winner is always taco night, because she can pick and choose whatever goes into her tortilla and we always end up with a lot of leftovers for lunches. I do a large variety of fillers and she loves it. Sometimes I took both chicken and ground turkey so there is a variety. I also do breakfast for dinner (eggs and turkey bacon) a lot and she loves to “help” me scramble the eggs before I cook them. Last night she helped me make a big pot of chili; after I opened all the cans of beans and tomatoes, I let her do all the pouring into the pot. I try to mix up our menu as much as possible, but taco night is pretty much a weekly staple. :) I’ve been blessed with a child who will eat her body weight in broccoli. With her, we decided to allow her to try everything we eat and so far it has paid off – she isn’t really a picky eater – and if she doesn’t want to try something, we just don’t push it because then she’s more likely to fight us on it. If we just say, “okay, you don’t have to try it, but we love it” and just keep eating it, she ends up wanting a bite. ;)
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  • rose says:

    Wow, three hours is more then I manage… I need to get more organised :-(

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