Making time to connect with your child can be hard to do, but is the key to happier and more amiable kids. Giving your son or daughter your undivided attention will not only create lifelong memories, but it will also help strengthen your relationship.
This article from the Peaceful Parent Institute explains why quality time is so important for the parent-child relationship. Life gets busy and overwhelming, but these ideas are easy, budget-friendly and fun!
1. Go on an adventure and let your child capture the memories with your camera
Take a walk in the woods and look for bugs, drive into the city and check out the architecture, or just take a quick walk around your neighborhood with a camera in hand. Slow down and see the world through the eyes of a child. You will certainly have some fun photos to laugh at when he is older.
2. Look through old photos and create a scrapbook
Kids love looking at pictures of themselves. Make those moments special by looking through old photos together and share memories from when the pictures were taken. After that, you can bust out the glitter and stickers to create a scrapbook of your child’s favorite photos. For older, tech-savvy kids, you can create a scrapbook online using a photo website like Snapfish.
3. Draw together, build together, create together
The other night when I was putting my daughter to bed she asked me to draw with her. Normally I am exhausted and itching to get to the couch to binge Netflix during my one hour of solace. However, last night I took the time to be with her. We snuggled, talked and drew pictures.
We each had our own notebook and did our own thing. It was incredible. She opened up about her day, giggled, and really connected with me. My other daughter is a little more hands-on, so the following morning I took a moment to invest in her by building towers and crashing cars into them to knock them down. Both activities were simple, but I could tell they had a great impact on both girls. The next day they fought less, helped out more, and we were a much happier family.
More fun and easy hands-on child-centered ideas:
- Make playdough or slime together – try one of these great recipes playdough from Paging fun Mums & slime from Preschool Inspiration
- Fun with planes, trains, and automobiles. Check our this adorable truck activity from Minne Mama
- Let your child pick a topic that interests them and learn more about it together.
My daughter was really into rocks for a while, so we spent some time reading about rocks, painting rocks and making a rock collection.
4. Plan a meal together
One of my daughter’s favorites Christmas gifts was a kid’s cookbook. We choose a day each month to plan a meal using some of her recipes. She makes the shopping list, finds the items at the store, and then we cook our meal together. Working in the kitchen is a great way to connect with your kiddo. An added bonus is that when you’re cooking you are teaching them important skills in math, reading, and science!
5. Learn together
Learning something new together is an excellent way to connect with your little one. Look for local businesses that offer parent/child classes, or try one of these great ideas from Coloradoincolor.org for learning activities that you can enjoy at home.
6. Start a book club
One of my favorite memories growing up was sitting in bed with my mom reading books. Even as I got older, I would sit in her bed while we each quietly read our own books. I think as our children become teenagers, we forget how small moments like that can fill even the moodiest hearts with love.
Start a weekly book club with your son or daughter. A trip to the library and a discussion about your favorite parts of the book can be a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Print this book tracker to mark off how often you read together as a family. After you complete the chart, celebrate your hard work with something special.
7. Make a date to connect with your child
Connect with your kid each month by planning a one-on-one date with your kid. The activities can be as simple as going on a bike ride or playing board games while you enjoy a hot chocolate at your local coffee shop.
Some of my favorite places to go for a You & Me Day:
- Ice cream, donuts, cupcakes – anything place that makes the day extra sweet!
- Paint Your Own Pottery
- Ice Skating or sledding
- Hiking and picnic
- Escape Room
- Learn something new together (baking, pottery, painting)
- Paddleboat ride
- Visit the Humane Society or a pet store
8. Exercise for Health and Connection
Staying fit while having fun with your child is a win-win for everyone! It’s easier than you think. You can have a dance party, go for a run together, or just kick a ball around the back yard. This article from Scholastic highlights the importance of exercise for kids and fun ways to incorporate physical activity into your family time.
9. Volunteer together
Volunteering and giving back to your community is a great way to connect with your child and it helps children develop empathy and compassion. Check out our list of different ways you can bond with your child while making a difference in the community.
10. Connect With Your Child Through Writing
Journaling or having a family mailbox to deliver handwritten notes and drawings is a fun way to connect with your child.
Find an old shoebox or inexpensive mailbox from the hardware store to decorate. Have the kids go crazy with the stickers, paint, and glitter. Put the mailbox in a central location and set up a stationary area for your kids. Children love writing messages and or drawing on special paper.
Even the preschool-aged little ones can participate. This is a great place for them to develop pre-literacy skills. Remember that this is a place for love and creative expression, so keep it fun and carefree.
After we read our letters of love, we save them in a box. Whenever someone is having a rough day we pull them out as a reminder of how much they are loved.
I think this is the most important one from this list. Although obvious, it is not something I always do well. Talking without checking my phone or being distracted by one of the things on my never-ending to-do list is hard for me. Being mindful and present is so important. I try to genuinely respond to the silly things my kids say and listen without judgment and criticism. I’m learning that when I don’t take the time to actively listen to my girls, they are less likely to listen to me.
Additional Ways You Can Connect with Your Child
According to research, it takes 5 positive interactions for every negative interaction that you have with your child. This article from Psychology Today offers 10 habits that you can start today to strengthen your connection with your child.
I didn’t forget about the big kids in your life! Check out this article from Family Education for great ways to stay connected with college students, and this one from Kids Health that tackles that difficult preteen age.