When I was a kid I used to get so disappointed when my mom told me we were having leftovers for dinner. I don’t know why, but for some reason the food didn’t taste as good to me the second time around coming from the microwave, no less.

My kids aren’t big fans of leftovers, either. But, after putting in a long day of work, be it in or out of our home, sometimes we don’t have the time or energy to prepare a new meal from scratch, or, we want to stretch last night’s dinner a little further.

When I worked full time outside our home and then came home at night to my responsibilities as a wife, mother, and homemaker, I was exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I felt like I had been run over by the demands of the day and didn’t have anything left to give. The last thing I wanted to hear was “what’s for dinner?” And the last thing they wanted to hear was “leftovers, again”.

But what’s great for our time and even our budget isn’t always great for our relationship with our kids.

I began to see I wasn’t just serving leftovers for dinner. I was serving my kids and my husband my leftovers, too. My job, my coworkers, and my clients were getting my best. By the time I got home at night I just wanted to park myself on the couch and mindlessly watch Netflix and scroll through Facebook.

One evening my kids said “Mom, sometimes it feels like your phone is more important to you than we are.” That was certainly a wake up call.

I love my kids more than life itself. But I wasn’t showing it, or showing up, in the ways they needed me. I realized how important it was for me to be present and fully engaged with my kids. Just being in the same room doesn’t count as quality time.

I needed to make some changes.

I looked for ways to simplify life so I could enjoy my life more with the people who meant the most to me. I began to menu plan and use my crock-pot more. Now days I can put a frozen pot roast in my Instant Pot and have dinner on the table in less than two hours!

I developed a housework schedule, which helped me with spacing out chores instead of doing them all at once. I began to look at my work differently-as temporal. Yes, my work had value and meaning, but not nearly as much as the precious lives of my children that God has entrusted me with to care for.

And, yes, I put the phone down more, too.

Do you find yourself overwhelmed and scraping the bottom of the barrel at times? What can you let go of, or restructure that will give you more meaningful time with your kids?