As your family grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to be intentional with your relationships with you kids because the demands on your time increase as well. You know how important it is to connect with your kids and you know that they are better for it. We sometimes take for granted that our relationship with our kids is self-sustaining because we care for them daily. It is important to remember that these relationships need cultivation just as much as the other relationships in our lives.
It isn’t just our children who benefit from this connection. Something we don’t realize is just how beneficial this is for parents as well. You need that time with your children just as much as they do. It doesn’t just help your relationship, it can actually help you. When you are intentional about that connection, your stress levels decrease and your children are actually more likely to behave better. It also can help you keep your priorities in perspective.
Summer is over, here, and the kids are back in school. We have so many demands on our time between sports, homework, and work that we just aren’t connecting like we should. This is especially true for my relationship with my eldest because he has the most demands on his time. Last night I wanted to change that and made the decision to let him stay up past his bedtime (on a school night!) so that we could get some quality time together just the two of us.
We didn’t do anything fancy. We simply sat on the couch and read a library book together but it was wonderful! The book was a thought-provoking one that he had picked out at school and it sparked many different conversations between us. By the end of the book both of our moods had improved significantly. In fact, I was surprised at just how much better I felt after taking those 30 minutes together. I remembered how important finding ways that I could work in bonding time every day is.
I know that you are just as busy as we are, if not more so. To help you out, here is a list of 10 easy ways that you can connect with your kids daily that take little to no prep work and can be fit in to your existing routine.
Dance parties are such an easy way to bond with your kids. Put some music on your phone and start dancing around the kitchen while you cook breakfast! Kids love this and you will love seeing their faces as they show you a new silly dance move! We will dance anywhere. In the grocery store checkout, in the car… it really doesn’t take much for us to bust a move. This is a great way to diffuse a stressful situation with your kids, as well.
Read a Book
This one is so easy to work into your day. There are so many options on what to choose and you can make it as silly or in-depth as you want. Here are some of our favorites and ways you can use them to spark conversation.
- Silly: Kids already find this story hysterical but add a little extra silliness by singing “My Buttons.” We did this and the kids still think that is how the song actually goes. You can also act out when the buttons pop off and look all over for the button. Kids think it is hysterical that you “can’t see” the button on the page.
- Serious: To add some meaningful conversation to the story, use it as a launching point to talk about being grateful for what you have and also for looking on the bright side. Pete is never upset about his buttons popping off and he manages to find another one (his belly button) even after losing everything. Ask your kids how they look on the bright side and also talk to them about how much they truly have.
- Silly: If you haven’t heard of these, you definitely should check them out! These are fantastic books and they are so much fun for adults and children alike. The author creates beautiful three-dimensional scenes from tons of different real world objects. The silly part for this one is obvious because a ceiling in a building might actually be made of tennis rackets and those windows might actually be stamps. Each scene has so much detail you could spend an hour on just one.
- Serious: These are a great way to start a conversation about recycling and protecting our planet. Show them how things can be repurposed in many different ways to create beautiful new, useful things. You can also use the pictures as ways to expose kids to items they may not come in contact with otherwise. A rotary telephone may be used in one of the scenes and you can talk to them about how our favorite luxury was having a really long cord so that we could stretch the phone to a more private area for calls. Talk to them about your past and let them get to know you better.
- Silly: This is our favorite devotional. It is relatable for kids and still helps to deepen their faith and understanding. The fun facts included on some of the pages make it easier to be a little sillier during some of the devotions. My recommendation is that you choose one of those days in the book when that is your goal. Also note that I do not prescribe to the idea that a devotional needs to be read linearly. It is much more likely that you will stick to a schedule (if that is your goal) if you give yourself the freedom to pick and choose when you have the time for the more in-depth and thought-provoking ones.
- Serious: This one is pretty much a no-brainer but don’t be afraid to continue the conversation beyond the devotion. Delve in more by talking to your child in earnest about your feelings and beliefs on a particular passage.
Play Tag in the Yard
Sometimes you just need to cut loose with your kids. Tag is so easy and there are a ton of variations. Here are four to get you started:
- Regular Tag
- Flashlight Tag
- Freeze Tag
- Laser Tag
Tell Each Other Jokes
Jokes are the best and the sillier the better. A quick Google search and you don’t even have to make up your own. Print out a list of short jokes and put them in the car, purse, or diaper bag and you’ll always have some ready. Or, you can be like my son and say absolutely anything and as long as you phrase it in a “question-to-punchline” format it will be hysterical such as this zinger:
Son: “Why did the car go to the gas station?”
Me: “I don’t know. Why?”
Son: “To get some gas! Hahahaha!”
Coloring is easy, cheap, and fun! They will love to have you color with them and now with adult coloring books you don’t have to be limited to constantly coloring Disney characters (unless you want to). While you are coloring conversation will likely just begin to flow. This activity is also great because you can do it even when you don’t have a lot of time. When the time is up, just put the coloring away for another day.
Get to Know Them
Get to know your kids in the moment by asking them to tell you about their favorite video game or their dream vacation. If you’re anything like me, video game talk is boring to you. However, your kid will appreciate you showing in interest and actively listening to them about it. Try to think of it like “eating your vegetables” for parents. You may not want to do it but it’s good for you.
When you ask them about their dream vacation you might be surprised by their answers. Be sure to ask clarifying questions about where they would want to stay and what they would eat. Also ask what they would want to do. Don’t just let them tell you a place and then end the conversation. If they say Disneyworld ask them what they would do there. What characters would they like to see? Do they have a favorite food from the park? Keep the conversation going and encourage their imagination.
Pray With Them
This is such a powerful tool that is under-utilized. Kids can be so insightful when it comes to prayers. It can be great to help you bond over a current event in your life and it can also help heal when things are rough. Be sure that you are not always leading the prayer, also. Let them take the reins and see what is important to them right now. Prayer can be just as revealing as it is cathartic.
Update Your Calendar
You have to update your calendar to stay on top of events. This is a great time to get your kids involved in family-management. Let them know what’s coming up in your lives and find out what things they would like to see on the calendar. In addition to bonding you are also getting a task done that you needed to do anyway. There is also the added bonus of your child learning about time-management and running a family. Talk to them about why paydays are marked. Let them see all of those doctor’s appointments. You can also see just how much time you are intentionally making for family and your kids. This seriously has so many benefits you could be leveraging.
Make Paper Airplanes
This is another one that can be done with whatever time you have available. Paper airplanes are so much fun and you don’t have to just be limited to making them. Once you’ve made them you can also:
- Decorate them together.
- Have races in the air to see whose plane is faster.
- Try to crash them in the air. (This one is especially fun because you’d be surprised at just how hard it can be to actually get them to fly into each other.)
- Make multiple designs and then test which ones fly the best.
Start reaping the multiple benefits of connecting with your kids daily. These activities will make it easier to be intentional about doing so. It doesn’t matter so much how you work it in as long as you do. What are your favorite ways to connect with your kids? I’d love to hear about them!
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