When you first have kids, everyone always reminds you to enjoy every moment because the time with them will fly by. For most of us, the time does not fly those first six months and we may forget that advice. Then, you pick your head up and your kids are in elementary school. Another blink, its middle school. Another and they are driving! It goes even faster when you are sharing custody…
As we look back, we may find that we haven’t made as many moments to pause and connect with our kids as we would have liked to. We’ve sat on the bench at the playground checking emails or catching up with friends while they are playing. We’ve sat at the side of the pool while they swim. These breathers important, but so are the moments we connect with our kids. And the good news is, you can start small and have an impact. Experts say even a minimum of 10 minutes a day of true emotional connection can help our kids feel safe, valued and loved. Plus, when we spend quality time with our kids, there’s often a nice bonus that they are more cooperative and easygoing for hours afterwards!
365 days a year, lots of years…want some ideas?
Here are a few of our favorites. They may seem pretty straightforward but you don’t have to overthink this. We’ve also tried to add some tips & tricks to spice them up a little!
Dancing: Yup – dancing is a great way to be a little goofy with your kids. Throw on some music and break out some of those old school moves. Switch it up where they get to be DJ for a few songs then you get to pick a few. It makes for a very interesting mix. Not only is dancing a good way to be active and have fun, but letting your kids see you do something you might not be great at can help them learn to take some risks of their own!
Wrestling: Getting down on the ground and wrestling with kids (in a controlled way where no one gets hurt) can be a healthy way to connect. It’s a great way to help kids learn about boundaries and self-control while having a lot of fun!
Go for a walk: There’s something about getting outside and going for a walk that creates great moments. We love to go on pajama walks about 30 minutes before bed in the summer (in our pjs!) as a way to wind down the day. You can also go on adventure walks during the day to explore a new spot – walk to a new shop, a playground, a pond…whatever you want. Not only do you get outside, but your kids will also pick up on your sense of adventure and may suggest their own adventure walks!
Create Something: Whether it is art or building something, working together to create something can be a powerful bonding moment. Plus, you have a memento that can always be a special reminder. We have done everything from making holiday and birthday cards, to building a stepstool that we needed in the house, to creating paintings (we picked one object to paint and each painted our own perspective of it), to landscaping our small yard. There are many forms this can take and each time we have had a blast!
Pillow Fights and Fort Making: Still super fun even as an adult. And, your kids will be impressed with your fort creation skills!
Mirror Game: Sit across from your kid(s) and mirror the changing funny faces they make. As long as everyone is in the game and, no one feels mocked, this is a great quick activity that is almost guaranteed to have all of you cracking up. We did this at a casual restaurant with the grandparents recently and had most of the restaurant cracking up!
Water Fight: This is a great way to get the lawn/plants watered while having fun with your kids. Grab the hose, water guns, water balloons…. put on some clothes that can get wet and have at it!
Ball Play: A good ole game of catch is still a staple. Grab a football, beanbag, baseball, basketball…anything will do. Kick a soccer ball back and forth. Catch bubbles. Bounce a ball for 4 square. It doesn’t have to be complicated but it will be fun!
Board Games or Card Games: Dig out your favorite board games or try to remember the card games you used to love. Stick to the classics (Monopoly, Scrabble, Old Maid, War) or try out some (relatively) new ones (Bop It, Apples to Apples, SkipBo, I Doubt You)
Whatever you decide, make sure you find some time during the day to connect. It will make a world of difference for your kids (and for you)!