Connecting with our kids can be challenging in a day and age where many things seem to grab or pull our attention away to other things. As a mom, especially, I feel like there are constantly things on my to-do list that can pull me away from my kids mentally, even if we are physically in the same place. Below are three times during the day that I try to be intentional to keep my focus and attention on my kids.
Mealtime. Mealtimes are a great way to connect with your kids. For most people, this may mean supper time, but any meal during the day that works for your family will do. Not only is it time spent with your children – hearing about their day, interacting, and just generally enjoying one another – but studies done by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University have actually found that although only 59 percent of families eat together on a regular basis, kids who do are not only healthier eaters, but are also less likely to use drugs and alcohol than their peers who do not eat frequently with their families. This is also a time to easily incorporate a daily open-ended question (one of our favorites is “What was the best part of your day?”), scripture or a short devotional time, or other question cards that each person at the table has a chance to answer. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or extravagant, a simple meal can go a long way to easily connect you with your child.
Bedtime/Wake time. I know many people use bedtime as a way to connect with their children. If I’m very honest, I’m usually so tired by the time my kids’ bedtime arrives that I have a hard time not hurrying them through the routine of jammies, teeth brushing, potty, and prayer. Some nights run more smoothly than others, and I try to take a few moments to connect, read a story, or pray with my children. But I have found that I happen to have a child who is a morning person like me and likes to get up early with me. When it comes to my relationship with him, it’s easier for us to connect together earlier in the day rather than at night. Together we make coffee, snuggle on the couch for a few moments, or take time to just connect.
Car time. I have found that riding in my car is a wonderful time to connect with my kids. As a social worker, I can remember being told, If you want to get someone to talk to you, take them out for a drive. There is something therapeutic and safe about riding in a car that makes conversations, sometimes even difficult ones, flow so much more smoothly. I have found that my kids have told me things in the car that had never been said anywhere else. And although we do also listen to music a lot in the car, I make it a habit of trying to stay off my phone or at least first asking my kids about their day, how they’re doing, what they’re thinking, and wait for their reply. It’s an easy time to utilize connection with our kids.
I think as parents we all love our children and want what’s best for them. (I should also mention that during these times I have the television off and my phone put away. )These tips are simply meant to encourage you as you parent to find ways that will work for you to intentionally connect with your child on a daily basis. Will some days be better than others? Absolutely. There are no perfect parents, and there are no perfect schedules that work for everyone. May this simply encourage you if you are already connecting with your kids or inspire you to start incorporating even one simple way of connecting with your kids, without just adding one more thing to your to-do list.