There are many different hats I wear during the day…I know how to be the mental health clinician, the business owner, the class rep and I feel I do these really well, but I feel the last 6 months I’ve been lacking in the department of being a mother who is connected with my children. I feel that when I’m on the floor playing a board game, my mind is thinking about packing Finlee’s school lunch, the laundry needs to be put on, cupcakes need to be made for daycare, paying the bills (you get my point). So I’ve taken action into my own hands and have tested a few things with our family over the last few weeks and things have improved sooooo much. As a result, I thought I’d share with you 20 simple ways to connect with your child on a daily basis in hopes this will help your family too.
Importance Behind Connecting with Your Child
In researching ways that I could connect better with Finlee and Chloe, I came across an author by the name of Pam Leo who has a wealth of knowledge that can help many parents to connect better with their child(ren). She focuses on a variety of topics such as but not limited to:
- Importance of bonding with children;
- Touch being essential to children’s physical growth and development which plays a key role in securing, strengthening and maintaining the bond between infants and children with their parents/care givers;
- Teach through love instead of fear.
The 3 main points I took away from Pam’s readings are as follows:
- Children need to feel loved;
- Children need at least 10 minutes of daily connect time with at least one adult/care giver, to do the things they want to do and in their way vs our way;
- Prioritise the connection with your kids.
I love this example from Aha Parenting:
“I do spend time with my kids, driving them everywhere. But I have a demanding job and our life is so busy. Do I have to do something special?”
Pam states: “Close relationships are built, moment by moment, from shared experience that lets us touch each other deeply. Nothing extraordinary may seem to be happening on the outside, but on the inside we’re connecting with the fullness of our deepest selves. It’s a form of falling in love: most of it happens in our hearts. Experiences like kissing scraped knees, laughing hysterically over nothing, discussing human nature at the dinner table, or wrestling with a challenging decision during a quiet stroll at twilight – that’s what builds intimacy. But to have these kinds of deep moments with someone, we have to make our connection with that human being our priority.”
So in a nutshell, setting up the arts and crafts while I cook dinner hasn’t been my best game. Or setting up water play outside and then going and putting the laundry on and leaving Finlee and Chloe to play on their own; again not my finest form. I need to play with them and I need to be engaged with them during this time. I know I can’t change the past, but what I do know is that I can change the future.
20 Simple Ways to Connect with Your Child
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have endless buckets of free time in my life, so I focus on the quality of time with Finlee and Chloe vs the quantity of time I have with them. I’ve compiled a list of our families top 20 Simple Ways to Connect with Your Child on a Daily Basis that are quick, easy, cost effective, but yet so powerful for connecting with your child.
Idea #1 Pick Flowers Outside – Finlee and Chloe love to collect flowers, so this is been great for us because while we pick flowers I can ask them about their day, hold their hand, discuss the colours of the flowers, smells of the flowers, how people like to receive flowers and also simply connecting with nature is a wonderful positive in anyone’s life.
Idea #2 A Card Game – playing cards is a great way to get the entire family involved regardless of age. Whether or not you want to play UNO, Snap, Old Maid etc playing cards allows for people to connect, create memories and also all the wonderful educational benefits that come with playing card (mathematics, reading, colour identification etc).
Idea #3 Hide and Seek – this is a simple way to connect with your child. One person counts, while the other (s) hide. We normally find ourselves in fits of giggles due to the funny hiding spots we come up with (Chloe hiding in the same spot for 5 rounds and truly thinking none of us see her; hilarious). It’s also a great way to work on numbers through counting, but also patience as everyone waits to be found.
Idea #4 Go for a Surprise Drive for Ice-Cream – there is nothing better than the kids thinking we’re about to go to bed and I say “get your shoes on I’m taking you for a surprise.” The pure anticipation and excitement alone from Finlee and Chloe wondering why mom/dad are going out of the routine is worth doing this. Not to mention, we get to create memories, talk more about the day and to just be with each other.
Idea #5 Dance Party – grab a dance cd and get ready to dance, dance dance. Kids love to see us parents let our hair down. Show your kids how to twirl, dip, wiggle and watch them laugh, smile and want more. Music is good for everyone’s soul, so turn up the volume and embrace the fun.
Idea #6 Bake/Cook Something Magical – You’re not just baking with your child (ren), but rather you’re building confidence and creativity, teaching them science/math/reading, discussing different food options, but most importantly deepening connections with your child.so get your apron on, measuring cups out and start baking/cooking with your little one (s). Our family loves this Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe and also this delicious Cadbury Chocolate Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies Recipe.
Idea #7 Build a Fort – ask your child (ren) to go around the house and bring back to the living room all the pillows and blankets they can find. Then together as a family, make a fort by using your couches, book cases, T.V stands etc (what ever is located in your living room). This is a wonderful way for the family to work on compromising on ideas, sharing ideas and working as a team; all qualities that are great for your kids to learn now to prepare them for the future.
Idea #8 Paint or Arts and Crafts – Finlee and Chloe love arts and crafts, but they love it even more when I join in. If your short on time, literally grab some paper, the paint set and start painting. Kids and parents will always find something to paint and not to mention how therapeutic painting is. If you have a few extra minutes set up an arts and crafts idea such as this: flower craft idea for kids, or recycling craft idea for kids.
Idea #9 Go to the Park – children around the world are connecting less with nature and this is having a huge impact on children socially, psychologically, academically and physically. Children need to get dirty, feel the grass between their toes, the sun on their face and breath the fresh air. Head to the park today to not only work on your connection, but also for child (ren) and parent (s) to connect with nature.
Idea #10 Get Creative with Lego – who doesn’t love playing with Lego? Unless of course it’s 2:00AM in the morning and you step on a piece. Lego provides a wonderful outlet for connecting with your child (ren) because you too are able to become creative. My kids love to see the creations I make and even though I think they suck, my kids absolutely love them. Finlee and Chloe also like to give me praise “Nice work Mommy” which is wonderful for them to be able to compliment others. I should also mention that Lego is a great way for kids to work on fine motor skills, work on problem solving skills, assists in building confidence and also builds creativity.
Idea #11 Blow Bubbles – you can’t say bubbles without smiling. This simple activity is sure to have everyone smiling and connecting in no time. You can find a variety of bubbles at almost any shop and kids will have fun taking turnings blow the bubbles, chasing the bubbles and just watching the bubbles float around the room or outside. For little kids who may get frustrated that they can’t get any bubbles from the wand because they blow to hard have at look at this Eco-Friendly Bubble Set for Kids (bubbles every blow) or for the bigger kids this Mega Bubble Kit for Kids.
Idea #12 Build with Blocks – with technology surrounding our child (ren) on a daily basis, sometimes blocks can seem, well, boring. But don’t for a second, underestimate this age-old toy. Getting down on the floor and playing blocks is a wonderful way to connect with your child (ren), but equally blocks are one of the most important toys children can use to further develop critical skills for school and for life in general. Playing with blocks allows opportunity for development in fine motor skills, spatial reasoning , problem solving, creativity and so much more, so grab the blocks as a great activity to play with your child (ren) and connect. Have a look at this collection of blocks for kids that meets the needs of every age group and not to mention how unique these blocks are as you won’t find in them major department stores.
Idea #13 Experiment with Science – science + kids + parents = awesome fun! There a million different science experiments you can do with your kids, but our family favorite is this milk painting science experience for kids. What I love about this experiment is that I’m able to explore with the kids their thoughts about why the colours go a way from each other when the soap touches the milk, or I’m able to keep it simple and speak with Chloe (almost 3) colour identification. It’s through these type of conversations that my connection with Finlee and Chloe will continue to flourish. Looking for simple science experiments check out this book called 365 Science Activities or this Science Idea Box.
Idea #14 Jump off the Couch and Create Slow Motion Videos – now don’t freak out. This maybe out of your comfort zone, but I ask you to step out of your comfort zone and embrace your child (ren) jumping off the couch. Ask your child (ren) to gather all the pillows and blankets from around the house and bring back to the living room. From there, first lay out all the pillows on the floor and then place all the blankets on top of the pillows. This will give the kids a super comfy spot to land when they job off the couch. Explain to your kids to have fun. Once your kids have had a couple of goes (and you’ve been there supporting them/cheering them on), join in. I promise you, they will LOVE this. Then once everyone has had a few goes, use your mobile phone, set it to slow motion video and record the kids jumping. Once you’ve completed the activity, everything is cleaned up, I encourage you to cuddle up on the couch with the kids and play back the videos; memories and connection all around.
Idea #15 Play Dolls – this is Chloe (my almost 3 year olds) new favorite things to do. She loves to cradle her dolls, feed her dolls, change her dolls etc. This has been a wonderful time for me to connect with Chloe and praise her for taking care of her babies, talk about her day etc. However, what I equally love is that Finlee will also join in with us, which adds another element to playing with dolls as he brings new perspective. Playing dolls is NOT just a girl thing and I feel all boys should play dolls if they choose to and want to.
Idea #16 Make Popcorn – how great is freshly made popcorn? Have the kids and yourself grab the popcorn machine, popcorn kerrnals, butter, salt etc and make popcorn. Going through the process of getting everything, pouring the kernels into the popcorn machine, to even the smell of the popcorn will create and embed a long lasting childhood memory, while at the same time making that wonderful connection with your child (ren).
Idea #17 Get Dirty – Finlee and Chloe love to see my hubby and I get dirty. I don’t not what it is but they can giggle for hours about seeing us with mud on our clothes or faces. So head out in the backyard and get dirty. Make mud pies or cupcakes in your very own mud kitchen, dig for worms, or have a mud ball fight (similar to a snowball fight but instead of throwing snowballs you’re going to throw mudballs).
Idea #18 Have a Bath – I love running a bath for the kids because it’s a great way for them to start to unwind and I’ve always found they also sleep so much better after having a bath. Baths are also a great way for kids to splash, use their imagination, play with the bubbles. If you can hop in the bath with your child (ren) do so, but if you don’t feel comfortable sit on the floor or pull up a chair and interact with them while they bath.
Idea #19 Reading Time – getting lost in a book is another great and easy way to connect with your child. I hear far to often of families that don’t read to their kids because daycare/school read to their kids. Please know that reading to your kids shows your kids that you value reading, nurtures their imagination, works on their speech, increases their communications and so much more. So let your child (ren) pick some books and read away. If you’re looking for some reading material for your kids, check out this great collection of books for kids.
Idea #20 Cuddle Time – this has to be one of my favorite parts of the day. I love just laying with Finlee and Chloe, relaxing and just simply talking about anything that is on their little minds. Sometimes we sit in silence and I’ve had to learn that silence is ok. While at other times, we may sing songs together, talk about the days events, or discuss what our plans are for the following day. Also by having them lay in your arms, holding hands etc brings in the physical contact with your child that is so important because it’s another layer of building that strong connection/relationship.
Investing in the Future of Our Kids
For many of us playing at the end of the day and being 100% engaged is not something that we’re all jumping for joy about, but I believe by investing 10 minutes each day this will help Finlee and Chloe later in life. They will know how to build attachments with their partners, kids and even their grand-kids and it will make them a better person over all because they were loved and made priority for 10 minutes every day.
Remember this saying…. Actions speak louder than words, so don’t say you’re going to play tomorrow or the next day, but rather play with them today. Be in the moment. Be engaged. Be connected. Make them the priority. Create childhood memories.
I hope this blog post has given you some ideas on ways to connect with your child. There are so many more ideas out there and I’d love to hear what you do to connect with your child. Leave a comment below so we can all help each other.
About the Author
Angela is an author, entrepreneur, blogger, mental health clinician and most importantly a mother. She explores various topics related to parenting/children on her blog and also in her four books: 30 Days, 30 Ways for Mothers to Take Care of Themselves, 30 Days, 30 Ways for Connecting with Your Child , Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids and 30 Days of Christmas Cheer – A Month of Holiday Traditions and Memory Making. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and her website Finlee and Me.