Parenting truly can be a joy. However, it can also turn into a seemingly never ending list of things to do! From washing up after the children, to taking them to school and extracurricular activities to cooking dinner at night, let’s just say things get busy. Childhood doesn’t last forever, and it is imperative that you stop and enjoy those special moments, from your kid’s first words to their first day of high school. Here are 10 ideas to ensure you are stopping to connect with your children, amidst the hectic nature of everyday life:
1) Make Magic With Music
There is nothing more beautiful than engaging in a creative activity with a loved one, and Anna Mlynek-Kalman from Music Works Magic shares more on this exciting idea, even explaining how this can begin from the time your little one is in the womb:
“Music is most wonderful when shared with others and together you and your baby can interact through music making even before they are born. The more you sing, the more your baby will sing. Babies love to explore the sounds of their own voices, as evidenced by how often we hear them doing this even when alone. By singing with baby, or just responding to baby’s sounds with musical sounds, you stimulate both sides of baby’s brain. This creates a bond that encourages baby to keep singing and exploring sound with their voice, also known as vocalising. If you only talk to baby, then most likely, baby will stop singing.
Music provides the best nourishment for the soul and well-being, and has been shown to vastly improve cognitive capacity. Music helps to create memory systems, develops mastery of languages, helps with complex problem solving and provides the potential for a healthier aging brain.”
2) Get Physically Fit Together
What could be better than spending time with someone you love, enjoying a fun activity and getting fitter and healthier all at the same time? Why not connect with you kids by enjoying physical activities together, whether this be a family team sport, running around in the backyard or just playing outdoors. It doesn’t have to take long! If you have a few spare moments between after school homework time and dinner, head outside and bounce around on your trampoline together. It really can be that simple. Not to mention that getting their heart rates up releases endorphins and you’re more likely to have happy, amicable kids ready for dinner time.
There are just so many benefits to getting your kids outside to soak up some vitamin D. Apart from getting fit, getting plenty of exercise ensure they won’t have heaps of pent up energy and they will be able to focus better and stay calm at school and whilst doing their homework. So get outside and enjoy outdoor playground equipment with your children, or take them down to the park for an evening play with other kids in the neighbourhood.
3) Enjoy Reading Together!
Devling into lands of fantasy and fiction is a glorious escape - and an experience you definitely want to share with your nearest and dearest. Michelle Worthington, internationally published award winning author of empowering books for children, shares some of her tips for connecting with little ones through words and reading:
- Build a foundation of communication and word structure for your child by helping them to become familiar with common sounds, words and language that you use throughout the day.
- Introduce them to the value of books by incorporating them into playtime as well as a bedtime routine.
- Talk about what you have read. Help your children understand that ideas need to be discussed and thought about critically and creatively. This will help show them that words can be communicated to other people in different ways to pass on the message. If you have read something that you don’t agree with, discuss that as well. Children need to learn that everything that is written is not necessarily the truth.
- Picture books can be great tools for you to use to help your child understand change and new or frightening events, and also the strong emotions that can go along with them. The library is an amazing resource for finding diverse books.”
4) Schedule In Bonding Time
Although the idea of having to pen time to bond with your children into your schedule may sound boring and lacking in spontaneity, sometimes it is the only way to make sure you get that special time together despite busy schedules. This is not only true of relationships with your children, but with your spouse, parents, or anyone special in your life that you feel you need to make more time for.
One tip that can really help to ensure you aren’t missing out on spending time with your kids even with lots of work and responsibilities, is to ensure you have a family calendar hung up in the kitchen, or somewhere everyone is bound to see it. Here, you can schedule in work, soccer practice, school, family activities etcetera. This enables you to carve out pockets of time for your kids individually, as well as for the entire family to get together and have a good time.
5) Start From The Moment They Are Born
Bonding with your little one doesn’t have to wait until they are old enough to have a conversation, or watch a movie with you. It can start from the time they are an infant. Deanne Atkinson, parent coach who supports parents in fostering the emotional wellbeing of their children, explains how fathers in particular can do just that:
“When a baby is placed on a dad’s bare chest straight after birth they will create a bond and a love which is palpable in the room. I witnessed this first hand. Dad fell in love and our daughter knew she was safe and would be looked after forever.
A father’s role in a daughter’s life is one of the most important relationships a girl is entitled to. A father’s role is to give his daughter strength, to help her have a good set of values, to be positive, to overcome anger and most of all to make her feel special…… It is important for mums to support this relationship. I know the pain from not having it with my father and I love my husband for committing to his role with his little girl.”
6) Chit Chat About Anything & Everything
There really is no better way to connect with someone than through the simple act of a conversation. Even when your children are young, making the effort to find out what their interests are and have conversations with them about these topics is a great way to stay connected and bond with them.
This is also a fantastic way to stay involved in your kids’ lives. This way they’ll feel comfortable coming to you with any problems they may be facing, such as bullying or trouble with schoolwork. Maintaining a habit of open communication is the key to a strong relationship with your child.
7) Have Some Gadget-Free Time
This one is especially for all the working parents out there. It can be so tempting to check your emails, websites, social media pages and the list goes on and on and on….. But this detracts from time you can be spending one-on-one with your child. You might think they don’t notice when you’re distracted but you’d be surprised how much they pick up on!
It’s good for both of you if you have some time away from technology. If you need to be watching a movie or playing an ipad game together to have fun then you haven’t built a very strong parent-child relationship. Try talking, reading, or playing together, completely technology-free and you’ll be a step closer to having a strong connection with your little one.
8) Make Use Of Small Pockets Of Time
You don’t have to spend hours a day playing with your child and their latest toy, but make the small moments count! Julia Hasche is a 34 year old single mum to a 4-year old, and is also a blogger, podcast host, author and mentor for single parents. Her website, Single Mother Survival Guide, aims to inform single mother on relevant issues, support them on their journey as well as inspire and motivate them consistently. Here is her tip on connecting with your little ones:
“Many people think that being a single parent you have a lot of one-on-one quality time with your child. While that can be true, it’s very hard to truly connect with them when you are the one that also has to work, run errands, do chores and everything else. My advice is to spend at least 15 minutes a day having “special play” with your child. So often we are focused on other things and what needs to be done. “Special play” should be directed by the child and not done between chores. It’s 15 minutes where you sit down with the child, and can really be present and connect with them.”
9) Family Dinners
Sitting down together for a family meal is an important part of many households, and is definitely not to be overlooked! It’s a time of day you can sit down, share the ups and downs of the last 24 hours and reflect on them together.
You’d be surprised how much this simple activity can influence your relationship with your child, and how much more comfortable they will be in being forthcoming with happenings in their lives. In some households, it may be difficult to do this every night, but at the very least try and have a family meal at least a couple of times a week - a great way to touch base on how your little ones are doing!
10) Get Interested In Their Interests
Getting involved in whatever peaks your child’s curiosity - a favourite TV show, game, celebrity or general topic of conversation can be a great way to enter the little bubble that is their world. This may not necessarily be what you feel like talking about, but a good relationship is all about give and take. Faith Whittaker shares more on this:
“Depending on your child’s age, it’s important to take a keen interest in what your child likes to do. As the mother of a very mellow and affectionate 18-month old, I’ve learned a lot about what he likes and doesn’t like. He’s shown me he doesn’t care to be outdoors for too long so I’ve taken that information and focused on indoor activities that we can do together. Pay careful attention to your children and they’ll show you the best way to connect with them.”
So get excited about connecting with your kids in a range of wonderful ways. Parenting should be about getting involved in your children’s lives as much as possible - so remember, don’t get too caught up in the craziness of everyday life and forget to check in on how they’re doing. Make a small effort everyday and you’re bound to form a close connection with your little ones!