I am with my children at many points during a typical day. I get them ready for school in the morning. I drive them to school. I pick them up from school. I help them with their homework. I drive them to their activities. I sit with them at dinner. I tuck them into bed. But for me to really connect with my children, I have to find ways to get beyond the routine family interactions.
Here are 5 ways to connect with your child that could strengthen your parent child relationship.
1. Watch TV together.
This might not seem like an obvious way to connect at a deeper level with your child, but it can work. Here’s the trick– make it something special you two share. For example, my daughter and I are watching an old sitcom together. Just about every night, after her homework is done, we get cozy on the couch and watch “our” show. If something really outrageous happens in an episode, we look at each other and crack up. During the show, as “life lesson” opportunities arise, I’ll comment without being preachy. And even when we’re not watching the show we connect by talking about something we thought was funny, and how we’re both looking forward to our next mini watch party.
2. Walk the dog together.
iMOM founder, Susan Merrill, says she and her teenage son formed a close bond before he left for college while they walked their dogs. “I didn’t set out to make it a bonding time,” she says, “it just happened. We were on a mission, so because there wasn’t a lot of pressure to talk, it just happened naturally.”
If you don’t have pets, take a walk together anyway. Or consider getting a pet.
3. Work together.
It’s great when you can tell your kids to clean the kitchen after dinner and then walk away… and we do not want to take that pleasure away from you! But working on something together is a great way to connect. It can be something as simple as throwing a load of dry laundry on your bed and folding it with your child. Better yet, come up with a longer term project like planting flowers in the yard or in paper cups if it’s too cold to plant them outside.
4. Sit together.
When my daughter came home from school the other day, she grabbed something to eat and sat down at the table. I was buzzing around the kitchen talking to her when I stopped what I was doing and pulled up the chair across from her. I watched her eat her snack and asked her about her day. I didn’t have my phone in front of me, and she didn’t either. We just chatted back and forth. (Here are 5 more ways to be a better mom by sitting — yes, sitting!)
5. Learn together.
Does your first grader love dinosaurs? Share his passion and expand his world of knowledge. Find fun facts you can share with him. Get a book and read it together. Get matching T-shirts and say you’re part of the “dinosaur club.” Show him the fun of learning while you connect.
Connect with your child spontaneously when you can, but if the busyness of your life is short circuiting your connection with your kids, do whatever you can to reconnect.
If the busyness of your life is short circuiting your connection with your kids, do whatever you can to reconnect.
What’s a unique way you connect with your kids?