With playdates, practices, and all the other everyday life commitments we deal with, it can seem like a challenge to keep those family bonds strong. Not to worry. Connecting with kids just takes a few minutes of quality time each day, plus a little bit of effort. These simple activities are easy to add to your busy routine, and they'll help you build your bond.
1. Start the Day With a Snuggle (or a Hug)
You might hear all kinds of numbers about how many hugs your kid needs in a day, but the truth is, kids are all different. The key is making positive touch a part of your normal morning routine. One way to do this is to start your day with a short, quiet snuggle while your little one is waking up (we know how busy mornings are, so five minutes is plenty). For older kids, this could just be a hug.
2. Actively Listen About Your Child's Day
It's great if you're already asking about your child's day at school or daycare; you're on the right track. You can make this an even deeper connection by actively listening to what they tell you, especially when it comes to feelings. Rephrase what you hear about their day and repeat it back. This will show your child you understand their perspective, which is a powerful part of connecting with kids (or anyone).
Go beyond the simple "how was your day?" and ask kids about specifics. Try asking about something funny that happened, a weird moment in their day, or something that surprised them.
3. Learn Something New Together
For kids, it can feel like adults already know everything about the world. One great way to seem human and approachable is to show you don't. Sign up for a class where you can both learn something new together. Think fencing, pottery, a new language, that kind of thing. If you don't have time or the resources for a class, borrow a book from the library about something you both want to learn about.
4. Share Your Child's Interests
Is your kid really into Minecraft or My Little Pony? Whatever they're passionate about (and trust us, we know it can be a little mind-numbing), take some time to experience that thing with them. It doesn't take much - maybe five or ten minutes. Seeing you share their interest will make them feel seen and special.
5. Set Aside Some Screen-Free Time
Screens are a huge part of our lives today, from the time we wake up until we close our eyes at night. But that doesn't mean electronics have to be a part of every moment. Set aside some daily screen-free time for the whole family. This means adults too. Spend that time talking about your day, making something, getting outside, or reading a book together.
6. Start a Parent-Child Journal
Even if you don't write in it every single day, a shared journal can be a wonderful way to connect with your child. As an added bonus, it also gives you a fun keepsake of your time together. You can keep your journal writing theme open and just both write about your day. Or you can use journal writing prompts to help you get started. Either way, both of you can write about the same topic and share your answers with each other.
7. Play a Silly Question Game
Even if you're talking about hypothetical situations or outlandish choices, a question game is a really good way to connect. It acts as an icebreaker, especially if the questions are funny or silly. Plus, each answer helps you get to know your kid just a little better. You might not know whether they would rather swim with alligators or sharks, but you're about to find out if you ask just the right questions.
8. Make Dinner Time Special Time
Everyone has to eat, but you can make it special and a source of connection by setting aside a family dinner time. There's no rule that says you have to do it every night - after all, evenings can be kind of insane for most families. If you're eating together at least a couple of times a week with no electronics, you're doing well. Don't worry if the conversation starts to lag a little. You can always play dinner table games to make this a positive experience for everyone.
9. Concentrate on Being Mindful Together
When you sense things getting a little crazy or feel like your connection is slipping just a bit, you can take some time to be mindful together. We're not talking about spending hours looking at the stars or going on long nature hikes (although those things are awesome when everything works out). This can be just a moment you share listening to what you hear around you and telling each other about it.
Connecting With Kids Is About Spending Time
Learning how to emotionally connect with your child isn't about finding the perfect parent-child activity. It actually doesn't matter that much what you do, as long as you're taking a little time to do it. It's that quality time that strengthens your bond, whether you're hanging out with your toddler or your teenager.