Connecting with my kids is always top of mine, but so easy to get missed. Today I am sharing 5 ways to connect with your kids plus some thoughts on being intentional with your time.
It may come as no surprise, but in all the years of motherhood, this is the one that makes me think the most about my choices. Completely because of time limitations. With 4 kids, life gets full fast, and I struggle to find slices of time every day to individually spent time with each of the kids.
It is so deeply important to me though! My personal motto is “connection before correction”, and I often tell myself those words throughout the day. Focus on connection. So how do I make that a priority, even when it feels like some days I can’t do it? [I fail and learn often in this situation] Let’s talk about it.
The challenge with a baby
I want to preface all of this by saying, having a 3 month old makes it infinitely harder. Babies do no understand me telling them that I’m spending time with another child, so many times, the special time with another kids gets interrupted. Instead of just ending my time with the older kid to tend to my sweet baby, I just bring her into the mix: nurse her as I read to the older kid, put her in the carrier if we’re cooking together, hold her while I play a game with a kiddos… she most definitely becomes my accessory I wear throughout the day. When I have the baby I make sure to talk to her with the older kid in ear shot with words like “Holland, I’m spending time with Hunter right now, but I’ll feed you while I do legos with him”. It’s important for me to talk to the baby about the importance of my time with the other kid, not because she gets it yet, but for the benefit of the older kid so they know I value my time with them
With that out of the way, let’s get into what works for me!
5 ways to connect with your kids
Read to them
I find reading to be one of the easiest ways to connect with a kid. Kids naturally love having books read to them. Pull them on your lap, ask questions as they go, and praise them as they learn. “Good job Nova, that is a blue bird!”
Right now with Hunter we are reading books together and taking turns reading the pages. That has been a super fun change to book time.
I love cooking, and part of feeding my family real foods means I spend time in the kitchen. Daily I invite a kid into the kitchen with me. Sometimes they help (shred kale leaves, chop fruit, mix ingredients, peel cucumbers, etc.), but other times, they may be sitting on the counter watching if I’m working on hot cooking, and we just talk together. It’s one of my favorites.
Take a walk/run an errand
Walking to the mailbox or driving in the car together is such a great place for conversations with my kids. When it’s just them and I (plus a baby sleeping likely), I can just listen. I’m not distracted. I let them lead the conversation, and interject questions as we go. I go deeper in trying to understand the way they got to a thought. Or we keep it light and tell each other silly jokes that make no sense!
Work on a chore/project together
There are always chores and projects to be done, and while I work hard to not always be busy around them, sometimes you’ve got to take some time and get things done. Instead of sending all the kids away to their room, or to another task, we do one together! Again, it gives us moments to talk and connect.
Special time together
Special time with my kids means I just join them in whatever they want to do. [Listen here for more about special time] I’ll pop into their quiet time in their room, and ask what they’d like to do together. I can almost always guess it will be legos for Hunter, and for Zoe it’s often playing a game together. But as that changes, I’ll roll with it! I give them the freedom to pick, and I am just with them. Special time is my favorite time with them. I also find it the hardest one to do because the uninterrupted time together is also during when I would get a moment of quiet and peace in the house. It’s a balancing act for sure, choosing days when I focus on connecting, paired with days I get a quiet moment.
For each of my kids, right now in their ages and stages I find I cook most often with Zoe (4), because she loves to help me. I read together a lot with Nova (2) and just snuggle her on the couch. Hunter (6) and I will often work on projects together but his favorite special time typically includes lego building. Holland (3 months) automatically gets tons of together time since we nurse all through the day and stare into each others eyes.
The biggest part of connecting with my kids is being intentional about it. Keeping my phone away, not being busy with another project and really looking at them, listening to them and reminding myself to connect. It is way too easy to get wrapped up in the day to day stuff to do, but the magic is the in quite moments with my kids. As you know and probably live out just like me, there will always be laundry or dishes to be done, but my kids at these ages and stages, that passes in a blink of an eye.
What are some favorite ways you connect with your kids? How old are they? Has it changed as they grow older?