Here are some intentional changes that were made in the last few months (in random order) to help me enjoy my last bit of the "little" years more fully:
Internet intervention. The internet used to be my escape on a very stressful day. It was not intended as such but it seemed to be the place I found myself when days where hard. The computers are next to my husband, so even if he had to work, I could still be close to him. Making myself stay away from the computer has not only given me a lot of time back, it made me realize how much time was previously wasted.
Spend extra time with each one of my kids every day. There have been days in the past where one or two children needed much attention throughout the day and the third (usually the quietest one) was left out. I'm not saying that I completely completely ignored a child but just did not spent special time with them one on one.
We make more things from scratch. We bake our own bread weekly and are making a lot of things from scratch now, such as granola bars, spice mixes, pancake mixes, etc. This is also a great thing to do with the kids (in particular little redheads who LOVE tasting everything - even salt, flour, spices). The kids also love getting involved with the process of trying different recipes and picking their favorite one. This particular point has made me feel really good in various ways: Making things from scratch gives a great feeling of accomplishment. Spending quality time and teaching the kids does the same.
Teaching something everyday. The kids really enjoy learning at this stage. So we read, focus on geography (we have a big map on our wall in the dining room and the kids are becoming quite familiar with it), and math with Nathan while Abigail is starting to learn how to write. Abigail gets additional training in housework while Nathan also learns baseball and other sports basics.
Giving the kids more chores. Duh! I'd been reluctant on this because after all, with Nathan being in school and having homework, he had so little time to play. Yes, this was all confusing to figure out. :-) Abigail is actually very excited about this. While Nathan has entered the stage where he is questioning why he has so much work to do, it benefits him and gives us an opportunity to work on a cheerful attitude. :-) Isabelle does do a fabulous job of picking all teeny tiny pieces off the carpet that may have found their way there somehow. This job was not assigned to her but she does it with so much enthusiasm. :-)
Batch cooking. Whenever I can, I batch cook. One time we planned a whole day for me to do it. Wouldn't you know it, the kids were sick that day. So it happened over 3 days but now we have emergency dinners in the fridge and that is sooo nice. Well, not only emergency food, but dinners already ready when I'd like them to be. That saves so much time. Throughout the week, if we make anything, we make double-batches and having all these muffins, chopped veggies, dinners, snacks, etc in the freezer, gives us a lot of time to make those previously mentioned from scratch things. My next step is to get snacks prepackaged for the kids so that snacks and/or lunch will be a cinch. If only you could chop apples and bananas a week ahead of time.....
Plan schedules more efficiently. We live in between two cities. So all errands in one city will be done on the same day (usually Nathan's school days) and errands in the other city will be on different days. If I leave the house to run an errand, I try to combine all others with it that I can foresee. And I schedule at least one full day at home by ourselves.
Family bible time. We try to have bible time every dinner time where we all sit together, eat together, read a story and then talk about it. This is in addition to any other bible reading/devotional we do or any bible verse memorizing. It is completely separate and a set time.
Being responsible for each other. Trying to find ways for the kids to help each other to get a sense of responsibility for each other. For example, Nathan will open the car doors for Abigail and then buckle her. I will still check but it is teaching them to take care of each other and that this is expected of them.
We've definitely bonded a lot more during the last few months. It feels good to be more focused and more intentional. Sometimes it is easy to get all wrapped up in housework and everything that "needs" to be done. I love these changes and feel they are connecting me with my children again.