Life is busy. Each week is full of after-school activities, appointments, homework assignments, and a million to-dos. If you're like me, you drift off to sleep at night telling yourself that tomorrow you will make extra time for your kids. Then the day flies by again, and you find yourself saying the same thing.
Here is a list of ten very doable ways to reconnect with your kids today.
1. Put your phone down
From 2-year-olds to teens, kids know when your focus is not entirely on them. Even if you just glance at your phone, they will notice. Keep your phone out of sight to give your full, undivided attention.
Be there for your kids during important moments of the day: when they wake up, get home from school and go to bed. This is when they need you most.
3. Eat dinner with the entire family
Isn't it difficult to get EVERYONE together for dinner at the same time? Aim to have dinner all together at least three times during the week. Plan ahead, check schedules and suggest working parents arrange to be home at a specific time for dinner on specific nights.
4. Enjoy a night of family fun each week
Designate a specific night during the week for family fun, when everyone can play games, make a dessert together, watch a favorite movie or just chat. Family time focused on simply being together is always a good idea. Your kids (and you) will start looking forward to it.
5. Switch up the routine
Do you feel like a broken record during the week with a monotonous daily schedule that repeats day after day? Eat dinner, do homework, bathe, get ready for bed, read, light's out, and start all over the very next day. Why not shake things up? After dinner, go on a bike ride. Or, before bed, go lay outside and look at the stars. Better yet, have a dance party in the kitchen! Anything to break up the nightly routine will be a fun surprise to your kids.
6. Spend one-on-one time with each child
Isn't one-on-one time the best with your children? Guess what? They think so too. Focus on one child at a time and let him or her pick an activity you can do together: reading a book, going for a walk, playing soccer, jumping on the tramp, and so on. You may be surprised at what your child picks. Try to do this ritual monthly with each child.
You: "What did you do at school today?" Child: "Nothing."
If you have a child who never gives many details about their day, let me teach you a trick. Tell your child all about your day with specifics. For example, say "I vacuumed the family room, talked to your grandma, fed the dogs and gave them water, ate a sandwich for lunch, worked on the computer, did the dishes and mopped the kitchen floor." And…that's it. After you mention all of these specifics to your children, they will want to tell you specifics about their days too.
8. Take advantage of the car ride
Do you find yourself playing taxi throughout the day too often? Take advantage of this time in the car by asking your kids questions. Turn down the music, look at them through the rear-view mirror and chat. Point out fun things you see through the window, ask them what their favorite song is right now, talk about a specific friend at school or just talk about the weather. Opening these lines of communication will help them feel comfortable to talk to you about anything and everything.
9. Share a positive and a negative part of the day
At dinner, have everyone share a good and a bad thing that happened to them that day. You may have to start the dialogue, but if you are honest with your positive and negative experiences, you will find your kids will be too. When they share the negative experience, don't try to fix whatever is wrong right then. Just let them vent and move on.
10. Go on an adventure
Try something new you've never done with your kids. Take your kids on that hike you've wanted to go on. Finally try out those batting cages you always drive by. Or set-up a tent in the backyard and "camp-out" for the night. Letting your kids see an adventurous side to you will help them want to be around you even more. And maybe your cool factor will be upped. Just maybe.