Moms are busy. It’s a fact.
That thought swirled in my head one night as I read this quote by Amy McCready,
“[Connection time] is the single most important tool in [parenthood]….This tool entitles children to their primary emotional needs – belonging and significance. It also prevents attention- and power-seeking behaviors like whining, acting helpless, throwing tantrums, fighting with siblings, staging bedtime battles and more.”
Preventing tantrums, whining, and bedtime battles? Sign me up!
The reality of how to make that happen weighed on my heart like a ton of bricks. 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. Reading this passage gave me hope that it was possible, but making it happen seemed daunting.
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: We wake up, make breakfast, get kids dressed, and out the door to school….which is usually rushed- no extra time there.
After school: Do homework, 45 minutes of video games, snacks, then they race off to play with the neighbors- no extra time there.
Dinner time: They all race in the house like ravenous wolves ready to eat, devour their food, then again they are off to squeeze in every last ounce of play time possible before bedtime- no extra time there.
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 getting off the island completely and making new routines? What if we could make our island the place we all wanted to be?
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.
The shift is huge and has been the difference between being at my whits end with the kids all day and counting the minutes until bedtime. Now I can say I usually look forward to bedtime, the day feels less stressful, we are all less agitated, and things just flow better.
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
- Play with your child for 5 minutes, join in whatever they are doing
- Bake something together
- Have a dance party
- 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
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.