Hi escher. I'm having the same trouble. i feel like all i do is work, get ready for work, and pack and unpack the kids for daycare... i have started turning the tv off in the evening so that we engage as a family, and that helps. mornings, however, seem to be a lost cause. it takes me 2 1/2 hours to get everyone out the door... and i never stop, ugh. hope some other mama's have some brilliant tips for both of us :)
Ugh. We always wake up and read a few stories. It really helps to ground the day and put everyone in a cared-for mood. The kids naturally go off to play for a bit while I pack lunch and make breakfast. DD (3) will spend a good portion of the morning dressing herself. DS (5) will allow me to dress him (eyeroll) while he fiddles with whatever he wants to do. We usually have to pack them off to preschool/K in the morning. But we have a nanny who starts at 12 noon and thus the kids are usuallly fed and often bathed by the time I get home. The days when they are bathed are awesome and the evening is so much better. Kids are tv free.
Hum, so to sum up my strategy is never do anything for myself while the kids are awake.
The mornings are always busy. Ideally, I could wake up earlier and get myself ready before the rest of the family gets up, but in reality one or both boys wake up as soon as they hear my eyelids open...LOL. DS1 usually likes a cuddle when we wakes up, so I spend about 5 minutes on the couch with him. DS2 likes me to get down and play on the floor with him, so 5 minutes there. That's all we really have time for in the mornings, everything else is getting us ready for the day. I try to involve them as much as possible, they 'help' me blow dry my hair, make breakfast, etc.
In the evenings, again I try to involve them as much as possible with dinner prep and clean up. We try to make dinner a family event, it is the only real time of the day we get to all interact together with no distractions. Sometimes if we are done supper fast enough we head outside to play. I usually give them a bath (here they get my undivided attention, we pour water, measure, etc) while DH tidies up the house. After bath we always all cuddle on the couch and read a book, watch a documentary, etc.
That's a summary of our work days - I would LOVE an extra few hours to spend with just the kids, no distractions or housework getting in the way. But, since that isn't an option, I just try to make our everyday routines fun and involve them as much as possible. That way we are still together and enjoying each other, and the important things are still getting done.
I like Ms Rabbit's idea of including kids in the process of getting ready and making/clearing dinner.
For us, morning is a lost cause. We get up at 6:45 (or try to, anyway) and have to be out the door by 7:30. But I still try to sneak in a cuddle here and there.
At night, we try to take a walk after dinner. Sometimes either DH or I stay home to get a specific chore done, but DD still gets either Mommy or Daddy time. I find I don't have much energy to do floor play with her, but if I force myself out the door then we can manage the walk. We have a playground close to us, so sometimes we walk to that. Lots of snuggling and reading as well.
We have no time in the mornings as my boys would prefer sleep to getting up earlier to hang out with me. ;)
In the evenings, we really try to utilize the time between dinner and bath and between bath and bed. We read or color or something in the 15-30 minutes before bath time and dh plays "hulk smash" with them on the bed (they all pick a superhero and dh basically just wrestles with them, they LOVE it!) before bed. I get a little bit more time with my oldest son because he rides the bus to my work 3 days a week and hangs out in my office, eating a snack and chatting about his day, until dh comes to get him.
I tend to not clean the dishes or anything else until dh is getting the boys into bed (I do bath, he does bed). After that, I'll do dishes or a quick tidy of the living areas in the house. No deep cleaning gets done during the week and meals for the early part of the week are simple enough that they don't take a lot of prep time.
How old is your child, OP? I found that once my DD started pre-K and kindergarten, we had a lot more time in the mornings to connect, simply because we would spend an hour together in the mornings on the subway/bus going to Pre-K, and last year about 1/2 hour walking to school in the morning at a leisurely pace to kindergarten. First grade starts on Monday for DD and we will begin our morning walking routine again. I find that a great time to connect and talk.
Another thing that really has helped as far as reducing morning stress and creating more one-on-one time is the habit of getting everything ready the night before (even lunches, as much as possible). That way, I can be completely ready except for getting dressed and DD can just slid into her school uniform. I find that reducing certain chores such as making sure everything is ready to go the night before and simple stuff like bulk cooking (so as to spend less time on cooking in the evenings) is what really frees up family time for me.
I have tried to get up earlier than everyone else so that everything is sort of 'ready' by the time the kids get up. Granted mine are older now (17, 14, 7) but I did this when they were younger too, to try to help me at least be less frenzied in the a.m. I found then that I got less irritated when those little set backs occurred and so kept the interactions more pleasant and enjoyable.
I think the balance changes a bit depending on the age of the child in question (the older they get, the less time you have to spend doing stuff "for" them, and get more time for doing stuff "with" them.
BTW, I'm not currently working, but when I was, it was full time, about 9 hours a day on average including the commute. I worked a standard M-F dayshift schedule. It was all about maximizing the time I had on weekends. That's when we'd do our weekly trip to the library (rainy days), go to the farmer's market (sunny days), aquarium, fun stuff...
I always had to get up super early and leave the house before my son woke up, so I never had any morning time on weekdays.
After I came home from work, my time belonged to my son. If the weather was nice at all, we'd go outside for a walk first thing (so I could de-stress from work/ and get some fresh air). Then, we'd do the dinner routine (I cooked dinner about half the time), then some playtime until it was time for the bedtime routine to start. The last move of the day was to read him some books before putting him to bed. I didn't do any chores/work stuff until after he was in bed asleep, so as long as he was awake, we had time together.
Once he was in bed, I did all those things you have to do to get through another day...plus I was teaching high school, so graded papers and wrote lesson plans and prepared instructional materials. I definitely did not have any time to myself in those days...
Final thoughts: You will never feel like you have enough time. Instead of resenting that, I chose to make the most of what I did have, and really focus on my son when I was present. Having the energy to play with little ones after a full day of work was tough. I was always tired. It helped to take a caffeine break around 4pm, so I would be able to get through the next three hours without yawning the entire time. Still, there were definitely days when I was honestly so wiped out that "quality time together" meant spending some time sitting on the couch with my son watching a video, but it felt good to have that little warm body snuggled up with me.