On one particularly busy day I felt like I was running circles on “crazy island” with daily meltdowns from myself and my kids and constant bickering. I wanted desperately to get off that island, but didn’t know how.
I don’t have time to deal with all of this chaos!
That thought swirled in my head one night as despearately searched for ways to make our home less crazy and find more enjoyable time together. That’s when I read this quote by Amy McCready,
“[Connection time] is the single most important tool in [parenthood]…. It also prevents attention- and power-seeking behaviors like whining, acting helpless, throwing tantrums, fighting with siblings, staging bedtime battles and more.”
How to Connect With Kids Even With A Busy Schedule
Preventing tantrums, whining, and bedtime battles? Sign me up!
The reality of how to make that happen was yet to be discovered.
My heart raced as I contemplated how to find a spare 15 or 20 minutes to sneak in connection time and avoid the behaviors that drive us all crazy.
Morning: Always rushed. Nope.
After school: Between homework, chores, and sports, we barely have time to eat before rushing off to bed. Nope.
Bedtime: Possibly the hardest time of the day and one I do NOT want to drag out. I admit to wanting to rush through that one- no extra time there.
Where am I supposed to fit in this connection time? My heart sank as I realized how powerful this tool could be, and knowing it was going to cause another fight just to fit it in.
Then an idea came to mind.
What if it wasn’t about ADDING more, but stuff, but taking a few things out and making our time together count.
Creating time for connecting with my kids wasn’t about adding extra activities into our already crazy day. Instead, it involved connecting through things we were already doing.
Connecting With Kids
After months of trial and error I’ve learned that the most meaningful connection times happens when I make them happen, in ways that feel natural.
It’s the little things that all add up to something bigger, more meaningful and better in our lives.
While our connection times are intentional, they aren’t necessarily scheduled. I use them as additions or upgrades to our existing schedule. This way nobody has to feel like they are taking time away from anything else. It truly does feel like something special, like icing on the cake.
Ideas for connecting daily with kids:
*I personally use most of these strategies daily and find them to be so helpful without taking up much time at all.
- 1-2 minute snuggle time after they wake up
- Talk about the day ahead at breakfast
Related Post: The Importance of A Predictable Schedule in Reducing Meltdowns
- Play with your child for 5 minutes, join in whatever they are doing
- Bake something together
- Have a dance party before homework
- Go through family pictures and talk about the stories behind them
- Scroll through YOUR OWN social media pictures and talk about the stories behind them\
- Take a walk to the mailbox together holding hands or skipping as you go
- Go for a bike ride together
- Explore outside together
In the car
- Turn the radio off in the car and strike up a conversation
- Turn the radio on and have a dance party
- Play a conversation game
- Ask each other random questions
- Play the if/then game
- Have your child give you the directions to get home from the store or school.
- Use conversation cards to spark conversations at the dinner table (my family loves these, my kids now rush to the table to pick out a card and read it to the family, they love asking questions and thinking of answers to give)
- Let them pretend to be a “master chef” and critique their meal. BONUS: You might learn a few things about their preferences.
- Deep hugs and snuggles at bedtime
- Tell a story (about your childhood, or your kids’ childhood) and ask your child to share one too at bedtime
- Start reading a special series of books to your child, one chapter a night can go a long way
Related Post: How to Create Night Time Routines Without All the Battles
Now our days are different.
Rather than frantically feeling like I’m stuck on “crazy island”, I feel at peace where we are.
Our days aren’t perfect, nor do I expect them to be, but I can truly say connecting daily with each of my kids has changed our days from insane to enjoyable.
About the Guest Author
This post originally appeared on WendyBertagnole.com and is reprinted with permission.
With an undergraduate degree in child development, and a master’s degree in special education, this foundation was a springboard for Wendy in helping kids and families to see the root of any challenges they face.
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