I know you’re like me and your children are your heart and soul. One of your most favorite things in the world is to have a special moment and to connect with your kids.
And, we don’t feel that we have enough moments with them, with how busy life can be.
So, I put together a list of some great ways to reconnect with your kids almost instantly!
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1. ASK THEM ABOUT THEIR DAY – EVERY SINGLE DAY.
This one actively tells them that you are thinking about them and you want to hear about their experiences, likes and dislikes.
I recently read a post from Audrey Monke that echoed this idea. She describes how she does something called “Highs, Lows, and Buffaloes”, and it’s a brilliant and memorable prompt. Ask your child for the high and low of their day in addition to a random thing that happened (their “buffalo”).
It’s cute and the kids instantly know what you’re asking.
My kids look forward to this every day after school. We try to discuss our “highs, lows, and buffaloes” in the car but, if we don’t get the chance, we talk about their “HLB” (if I may be so bold as to give it an acronym) at dinner.
This is also great because it forces a focus on positivity and gratefulness for the day. Often, my kids tell me they don’t have a low, and that’s ok.
2. MAKE AFTER-SCHOOL HUGS MANDATORY
When picking up my kids in car line each school day, it felt strange to me that there was no time for hugs, only time to quickly strap in and keep the line moving. Sure, we always talk about their day (see #1), but there were no hugs after being away from them for nearly 7 hours!!
If I were picking them up from the bus, I’d immediately give them a hug.
So, I remedied this situation and instituted “after-school hug” call-outs.
For each child, I call out “after-school hug” and we stop what we’re doing, no matter what stage of after-school routine we’re in!
It’s a nice and quick way to reconnect and remind them how you’re so happy they are back home!
3. EACH NIGHT, MAKE SURE THE FAMILY SPENDS AT LEAST 15 MINUTES OF FAMILY TIME TOGETHER
Every night, our family has “family 15 minutes”. We look forward to it every day. Each child alternates choosing the activity for the 15 minutes. We go through the day asking the child, “What do you think you’re 15 minutes is going to be tonight?”
Sometimes, they have it planned and other times they say it’s a surprise for the rest of the family.
We protect this family time so that we ensure we have some play time together each day.
The possibilities are endless.
One thing we try not to do is to watch TV for the 15 minutes, unless someone is sick and doesn’t feel up to a high-energy activity. If we have a hectic day, we make up the 15 minutes the next day. The other day, we did 45 minutes of 15 minute family time because we had missed 2 days of it. We make it a priority.
4. PLAY VIDEO GAMES TOGETHER – YES, VIDEO GAMES
A year ago, I would have never included video games in this list. I thought they were idle play and definitely didn’t think they could provide any quality family time.
But, after several months, my husband and kids convinced me to try the ever-popular Mario Kart racing game with them.
I really didn’t want to join in; I had plenty of household stuff I could get done while the three of them played.
Finally, they convinced me and I began to see the value in working together as a family in a family-friendly video game like Mario. Instead of staring numbly at the TV, we were sharing game strategies together while playing, cheering each other on and celebrating each others’ wins.
It was not what I thought at all.
Initially, I thought I’d play a token few times and say I did, but I came to see the benefit. It was a way for us to collaborate and champion family members.
And, I instituted the requirement that everyone squeeze in close so we have the added benefit of snuggling during the games.
5. READ, READ AND READ AGAIN – ALWAYS WHILE SNUGGLING!
As every parent knows, the benefits of reading are endless. The benefits of reading together to connect with your child are also endless. It’s a way to grow two trees with one seed – snuggling and reading! It increases your parent-child bond and also allows their brain circuitry to associate reading with a relaxing, loved feeling – what a great feeling reading will create for them years later when they remember loving times of snuggling with Mom while reading their favorite book.
The book can be laugh-out-loud hilarious like “The Book with no Pictures”, silly like the “Captain Underpants” series, or educational like the “National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the World”.
Anything that gets you snuggling in to a read a book together will do wonders for all involved.
And, studies have even shown the benefits for kids and adults that read together. As noted in this article, “reading aloud appeared to strengthen parents’ feelings of competence, improve the quality of their relationships with their children and even reduce parental stress or depression”.
Wow! Reduced parental stress? Yes, please!
And that’s not it, this article goes on to say…
“Reading aloud to children improves a young mind’s cognitive development (thinking, problem-solving, decision-making) and reduces behavior problems, research shows. As with playing board games, reading to them increases concentration and attention spans. Reading aloud even outperforms conversation when it comes to exposure to vocabulary and advancing a child’s literacy.”
What!? I was surprised that reading aloud is even better for vocab exposure than conversation with the child.
Reading to children is so incredible. I’ll just be sad when they both can’t sit on my lap anymore.
6. MAKE SURE THE KIDS SEE YOU MAKE MISTAKES!
Yes, this can be hard to do at first because we think we need to be a form of perfect in front of our little ones, but that’s just not the truth that we want to pass to our kids. The truth is we all make mistakes – all. the. time! And, they will, too.
So, make sure you acknowledge your mistake and show them what you do to fix it. It will humanize you, which will allow the kids to relate with you more, bringing you closer together. Everyone feels closer to those they share similarities with. It will take the pressure off of them to do the right thing all the time – who needs that pressure? We, as parents, certainly feel it, and it isn’t any fun.
Nobody is, or needs to feel that they should be, infallible. Let them see it by you modeling the way. It takes a load off of my shoulders when I say, “Ok, Mommy made a mistake; everyone makes mistakes; no one will ever be perfect.”
It’s a great mantra for anyone to hear.
7. PLAY! IT BENEFITS KIDS (AND PARENTS) TREMENDOUSLY!
I agree with the philosophy that the work of childhood is play, and we say that all the time in our house. My son will say, “I’ve got business to attend to; I need to go play”. I love when he says that, because that really is all he needs to do to develop his brain and his creativity and to create joy!
It can feel hard to find time to play together, but even 5 minutes is much better than none at all. We play games in the car as basic as “I spy”. Any game or activity can be helpful because you are engaging with your child, which brings you closer.
Along the way, you learn their likes and dislikes, abilities and even their type of humor. In return, they also learn yours.
8. TALK TO YOUR CHILD AS IF HE OR SHE IS YOUR EQUAL, JUST TINIER.
Making a child feel that s/he is your equal exercises their cognitive skills and increases their confidence and self-worth exponentially. It decreases the feeling of less-than, which doesn’t help anyone to thrive.
As with parents, kids have their own unique life paths. They just happen to be starting their life path after we started ours, and they just need our guidance, support and wisdom.
Talk through your mundane daily tasks and dilemmas. Involve them in trying to solve the problem, even if it seems like only a grown-up would understand; they might surprise you.
My kids have come up with some great solutions to problems that we think of as “adult problems”. They have a fresh perspective that is not yet altered by learned beliefs like, “oh, we tried that before, that can never work”.
For example, I was once explaining to my kids that I was trying to resolve a misunderstanding between 2 adults, and my daughter plainly and expertly suggested that the parties just needed to talk it out. Easily, this was the most simple and straightforward – and most effective – way to handle the situation.
Treating children like the fully-capable humans they are shows them that you respect and support them.
This will make them feel closer to you because they know they can count on you for respectful listening, discussion and support.
This quote sums it up perfectly:
“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” -Brooke Hampton
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