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Have you ever wondered how to connect with your child in the busy days when you feel overwhelmed by all the tasks on your to-do list? Here is a list of easy ideas to transform every moment of the day in a chance to connect with your child.
For me, connection is the most powerful parenting tool that I have. It helps me build a strong relationship with my son. It helps him feel loved and supported. And it makes disciplining and dealing with difficult moments a lot easier.
So I talk about connection a lot! Ever since I discovered how much it can help me as a parent, I talked about it with other moms every time I had the chance. And I wrote about it many times here on the blog, hoping that it will help other parents too.
One of the feedback that I’ve heard often about connecting with kids is that parents don’t have the time to do this. Because life is so busy and we have so many things to do in order to take care of our kids and all the other things on our to-do list.
I totally know how this feels!
But the good news is that connecting with kids doesn’t have to be difficult and time-consuming.
The best way to integrate connection into every single day is to include in the things that we normally do with our kids.
Of course, special moments and activities are wonderful. Spending hours playing with the kids is great. Being joyful and emotionally available the whole day is awesome. But we can do this all the time!
What we can do is make room for connection by using daily tasks and activities as an opportunity to connect.
This is why I gathered here a list of ways to integrate connection in the things that you usually do with your child. It’s easy and practical! And it can really make the difference in those busy days when you are too tired or overwhelmed to add any other activities to your schedule!
1. Morning routine
A busy morning can cause a lot of frustration for both kids and parents! To make things easier, set the alarm clock 10 minutes earlier and use that time to connect with your child. You can cuddle in bed next to the child, sing him a “good morning” song, chase him around the house in pajamas, or anything else that you know they like.
The whole atmosphere in the house will be better! And we have a lot bigger chances to get out of the door on time. 🙂
There are days when all I can think of during breakfast is if my child will eat fast enough for us to finally get out of the house on time.
But this thought is only making my morning seem more stressful and less enjoyable.
Here are two ideas that I like for adding more joy to breakfast time:
– Making a habit for all of the family members to answer the question “What would be the one thing that you hope to do today that will make you happy?”. These answers are a great way to have an optimistic start of the day. And you can also follow up on this at dinner to see how everyone’s day went.
– Preparing a sticky note for the child to discover on the table, near to their plate. It can be a short nice message or a funny drawing that will make the child smile.
3. Time spent in the car or going from one place to another
During busy days you’ll most probably spend some time in traffic or walking from one place to another. That time can be the perfect moment to connect with your child! Instead of listening to music or talking on the phone, turn off all other distractions and focus on the child.
You can talk about their favorite topics, ask them about their friends, or tell them about your plans for the day (or how your day went). If you want to make things more fun you can sing together silly songs in the car. Or create a story by taking turns and adding one phrase to it.
If you walk or use the public transportation, there are also some attention games that you can try. Like “who spots more people wearing jeans” or “who sees more red cars on the street” and so on.
If you need to spend a lot of time cooking, you can use some of these ideas to connect with your child:
– invite him to join you and help you with some easy tasks (as the chef’s assistant :-))
– play some music and dance together in the kitchen
– listen to some stories from audiobooks and discuss them together
– play “What would you do if…” (This is an easy game for kids all ages. The only rule is that you take turns and ask each other any question that begins with “What would you do if…”. You can try realist scenarios or totally imaginary ones.)
5. Lunch and dinner
Meal times (and especially dinner when the whole family is gathered around the table) are great opportunities for meaningful conversations. Open-ended questions are great for encouraging kids to talk about different topics.
You can also create a special jar with notes containing one question that everyone on the table needs to answer. The questions can be both funny and serious. And they will certainly bring you a nice family time!
Another idea that I like is to transform one meal or snack into a picnic on the living room’s floor. If the food will not create too much mess then setting an ad-hoc picnic can be a wonderful way to break the routine and enjoy the meal even more.
6. Nap time
If your child still naps during the day (lucky you!) you can create a nice ritual before nap time that will make going to sleep easier. Ask the child “What is the one thing that you would like us to do together after you wake up?”. Write that wish on a piece of paper and let the child know that you’ll do it after nap time.
The thought of a nice activity to do after sleep will make the child a lot more willing to stay in bed. And it’s a nice way to connect at nap time instead of having contradictory discussions about going to sleep.
7. Tasks around the house
Even when you are busy handling tasks around the house, there are some things that you can do to still connect with your kids during that time.
– assigning them small tasks so that they can help you
– playing some music and dancing together while doing tasks like dusting, laundry, cleaning, and so on
– playing children songs and singing along in a loud and funny way
– inviting the child to “draw a story” that you tell (you describe the landscape and the characters and the child draws them)
8. Bathtime (for young kids)
Instead of making bathtime just another activity to check on the bedtime routine list, you can use it as a chance to connect. While the child is taking a bath and you need to stay close to keep an eye on them, you can invite them to sing a song with you. Or you can make silly faces and laugh at them.
Bedtime doesn’t have to be that moment of the day when the child protests against going to sleep and you lose your calm while dealing with it. (This did happen to me in a period of my life!)
Instead, you can make this moment more connecting and enjoyable for both of you. A nice idea to try is to have a little journal for you and your child and use it every day before bedtime. You can write there every day what was the best moment of the day for both of you.
It only takes a few minutes but it’s a ritual that your child will be looking forward to.
Of course, reading a story before bedtime is another way to connect. But even better than reading a story to your child is telling them one where they are the main character.
They will feel special because they get to be the characters of your story. And this can also be a great opportunity to reassure them how much you love them. Or address some fears and worries that they have in a playful and kind way.
Adding more connection to activities that I would do anyway during the day has been a huge help! It helps me make sure that things don’t get (too) out of control during very busy days.
My child is less demanding when I do this and the whole day runs a lot smoother for both of us.
I hope that you’ll enjoy these ideas as much as we do! And you’ll see that the more you do this every day, the easier and more natural it becomes!
photo credit: Evgeny Atamanenko / shutterstock.com