As the mother of a tween, I find myself bargaining with Father Time on the regular. In my futile attempt to negotiate the amount of time I have left with my growing boy living at home, the diminishing number of seasons, vacations, and even weekends at home remain at the forefront of my mind. My younger son trailing 5 years behind softens the blow a bit, but time has a funny way of catching up with us, doesn’t it? It passes quickly and apologetically.
From where I’m standing, it seems as though the only defense we have is the strength of our connections with our kids. What once came so naturally begins to require a deliberate effort as our kids begin making their way into the world.
It seems as though when we think about finding ways to relate to our kids, we tend to think in absolutes, as if connection needs to follow some kind of formal process. I don’t think it has to be like that, because life isn’t like that.
If we stop to recount our deepest connections in love and friendship, we begin to realize that they’re nothing more than a collection of special and not-so-special moments that when combined, really amount to something beautiful and lasting.
If I’m to do anything better this year, I’m committed to making daily, deliberate connections with my kids. Our moments don’t need to be grand, expensive, or worthy of fanfare they just need to happen.
Connection made simple 1 of 17
Connections big and small are what it's all about. Take a look at 16 ways to connect with your kids because, by golly, it just feels good.
Introduce them to your music 2 of 17
Like many parents, my delicate sensibilities are offended by my children's taste in music. It's not their fault, they just don't know any better. Do your kids a favor and broaden their pop-centric musical scope by introducing them to the soundtrack of your life the music that made you who you are, defined your most important life moments, and made you think. While your kids may not share in the genius of each genre introduced, music is a beautiful way to share life experiences and connect on a new and profound level.
Tackle a book together 3 of 17
Reading offers a rare and beautiful opportunity to connect with your child by focusing with intention. Be the tender arms they can't wait to settle into at the end of a long day as their imagination takes flight off the page.
Go outside and get moving 4 of 17
Let's just forget for a second that this is what I look like from behind, and focus instead on how great it is to go for a walk outside with your kids. Not only is it great exercise (see above rear-view shot), it's a wonderful way to engage in natural conversation while breathing fresh air. Here we are walking to school while I point at something whilst acting bossy, as one does.
Dance your heart out 5 of 17
While I'm not the type to bust out spontaneous dance moves just because, my husband is. Whether at home, in the grocery store, or while riding an elevator to an instrumental version of "Free Bird," my husband is the first to initiate a quickie dance party just to get the kids moving and lift their spirits. Dancing is a great (and hilarious) way to connect with your kids when they least expect it!
Look at old photo albums together 6 of 17
Memories will light the corners of your mind and all that sweet stuff when you sit down with a few photo albums and revisit good times with your kids. Photos are a great way to initiate discussions surrounding your family's history, and share in some precious storytelling time.
Start a project – any project 7 of 17
Whether you decide to plant a garden, create a scrapbook, or build a rocket ship out of boxes decide on a project and work it out together. Your child will love spending time planning, problem solving, and completing whatever you've created together. United in pride it's a beautiful thing.
Attempt to play their games 8 of 17
No matter the suckage of your gaming skillz, just playing earns big-huge bonus points with your kids. Whether you play video games or board games, a little healthy competition is always good for a few belly laughs. As an added bonus, your kids will just love teaching you a thing or twelve!
Binge-watch a television series 9 of 17
I know, I know, kids watch too much TV, but I speak from personal experience when I tell you that binge-watching a favorite television series with your kid is a killer bonding experience. Oh, the quotables! (Notice the old-school Friends reruns in the background?)
Share their birth story 10 of 17
Sharing your child's birth story is an intimate way to connect with your growing child. They'll love hearing you recount every detail - from the moment you learned you were pregnant, to how they moved about in your belly, to their own special delivery story. Share photos and videos to further enhance your storytelling because your child's story of welcome is as special and unique as they are.
Create your own special snacks 11 of 17
While I may not have the patience to cook a full meal with my kids, I still find ways to connect with them by preparing easy munchies together. The simple moments we share in the kitchen teach them a little something and provide us with a few precious moments together.
Introduce your passion 12 of 17
I introduced Boy Wonder to blogging (my passion) and ever since, he's taken to blogging on Babble whenever he has something to say. Whether he's sharing his artwork or detailing 10 things he wishes he could change about me, blogging has grown to become an unexpected (and hilarious) bridge of understanding between us. Be sure to allow your child to introduce you to their passions as well - you'll have a great time discovering all about the things that bring them joy.
Just talk 13 of 17
Sitting and talking with your child may sound pretty basic, but in the hustle and bustle of every day, communication can get lost in the shuffle. Take a few moments to consciously check in with your child each and every day. Ask about school, friends, high points, low points, and everything in between. By keeping the lines of communication open with your child, you'll create a strong connection that comes from feeling valued.
Eat a meal together – any meal 14 of 17
The road to family dinners is paved with good intentions, but for many of us, varied work hours, commutes, and extracurricular activities threaten our plans for togetherness. The good news is that making a daily connection through food doesn't have to be difficult. Commit to eating just one meal together (it doesn't even matter which one it is) per day, and if it can't be with the whole family, that's OK, too. Just make it a point to sit and eat with your kids whenever possible. A few moments is all it takes to connect, check in, and make your presence known.
Leave a love note 15 of 17
Love notes are an easy way to remind your child that you're thinking of them. Leave a quick note of encouragement or sweet smile in a lunch, backpack, or anywhere they're sure to find this extra bit of attention and love.
Snuggle with your kids 16 of 17
Sure, offering up affection may go without saying, but it's easy to forget about deliberate actions of love when life gets busy. A few moments of physical closeness each day is all your child needs to feel safe and loved amidst the daily chaos.
Go out for a treat 17 of 17
Few things are better than an impromptu trip to the ice cream shop. Whether you're looking to make a bad day better or a great day that much sweeter, ice cream has a way of bringing smiles to everyone's faces. So sit back, share a smile, enjoy the sweetness, and connect!