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One of the toughest challenges of parenting is finding time with your kids. This can be particularly tough for working moms, but the good news is that the quality of time matters more than the quantity of time. Here are 12 ideas for spending quality time with your kids, some that require no preparation and others that require a little more!
Quality Time with No Prep
1. Have an impromptu dance party
We use our Google Home all the time to play music. Even if you don’t have a specific song in mind, you can ask Google to play nursery rhymes, pop music, dance music, or music for kids and Google will play a related playlist. Kids love to dance and be silly. Cut loose with them for a few minutes. The physical activity will boost everyone’s mood. This is a great indoor activity that takes no preparation or planning! Don’t have a Google Home? Amazon’s Echo can do the same thing!
2. After dinner walks
Take a nature walk after dinner, even if it’s just to the end of the block and back. Use the time to ask kids what they see, hear, smell. Connecting with their senses is a great way to spark a kid’s creativity and curiosity.
3. Morning and bedtime routines
My husband and son are both early morning people. Their quality time together is usually before me and the baby get up for the day. They watch cartoons together on weekdays or play video games on the weekend and have breakfast. The morning routines are normal things and nothing super special, but it’s one on one time they spend together. Bedtime routines are more my time. Bedtime is time for a book or two (or three… or four…) and settling down. After books, we turn on the same lamb pillow-nightlight we’ve had since my 6-year-old was a baby and look at the stars. We sing along with the bedtime songs from Gloworm.
4. Say “I love you” and give hugs every day
Family therapist Virginia Satir said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” No matter how busy, take a few moments out of your day to physically connect with your kid to give them hugs, no matter how old they get. Telling your child verbally that you love them frequently creates the foundations of trust and confidence and makes it easier for your child to love others when they grow up.
“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”Family Therapist, Virginia Satir
5. One-on-one time
Carve out one-on-one time with each child when you’re able. My mom worked a second shift (2 pm – 10 pm) for a while when I was a teenager. While she was always there with us in the mornings, I missed her at night. Once in a while on her day off, she’d come to get me out of school early to go to the mall or have lunch. I loved those times when it was just her and me together. If you’re taking your kid out of school for an appointment, can you go a little earlier or bring them back a little later and squeeze in lunch or a treat, too?
6. Make the most of time in the car
Time spent in the car can be an awesome way to connect with your kids! For younger kids, “Eye Spy” is a classic game. We also like to talk about things we wonder, like we wonder what color the trees would be if the sky were purple? Wondering helps develop critical and creative thinking as well as vocabulary skills. For older kids, the car can be a good time to talk about sensitive topics. Because you’re not sitting face to face, it’s less intimidating sometimes for kids to open up in the car about what they’re thinking and feeling.
7. Know your child’s Love Language
You probably have heard of Gary Chapman’s bestseller, The 5 Love Languages, about understanding the way your partner gives and receives love, but did you know he’s also written about love languages for kids? You can go to his site and take a quick inventory of your child and discover their love language. I definitely still recommend the books for a deeper dive, but this will get you started! My 6-year-old’s love language is definitely physical touch – he loves to be snuggled and to give hugs. Sometimes this can be a challenge for me; with a nursing baby, I’m prone to get really touched out really fast. But when he’s being clingy and needy, it really helps me to remember that he doesn’t mean to be annoying, that he’s just asking for love in his love language.
Quality Time with A Little Prep
8. Let them help
This is probably the hardest one for me to follow myself – but kids really benefit from letting them help you with tasks. Beyond a chore chart, contributing to tasks helps kids develop confidence, a sense of efficacy, and a feeling that they’re can make important contributions to the household. My problem is that it always takes twice as long as if I’d just done it myself! Even still, little tasks like folding clothes with you or setting the table for dinner give you valuable moments to connect.
9. Connect with their interests
My 6-year-old is crazy for Minecraft. Personally, I find it beyond dull to sit and watch him play this video game, but it’s what he loves. It can be really tempting to tune him out but I make it a point to stop and really listen and pay attention to what he wants to show me. Typically I make a mental-deal with myself that I’ll listen completely to him for 5-10 minutes, ask questions, and really engage before I do something else. I also try to incorporate his interests in other ways to let him know that I care about what he cares about. Target sells little miniature Minecraft figures at the cash register sometimes, so when I’m running through to grab a few things, I’ll grab one of those to surprise him once in a while. I encourage him to draw Minecraft pictures and talk about those and bought a Minecraft coloring book that we could work on together.
10. Call gramma or grampa
If you can’t be physically close to your kid’s grandparents, call them with your kids once in a while. Even better than calling is video-chatting through Facetime or Skype. Kids benefit from a wide circle of love and grandparents provide it unconditionally!
Quality Time with More Prep
11. Learn a skill together
Learning a skill together is a great way to bond with your older kids. Not only are you spending quality time together, but you’re also modeling for your kid how to be a learner and have a growth mindset. It also gives you an opportunity to show a little vulnerability. Kids benefit from seeing you as someone who overcomes struggles and setback.
12. Family dinner
Our family is really blessed by living close to our extended family. Every Saturday night when my grandparents are in NJ (they’re snowbirds – they live half of the year in FL), we have family dinner together at the local diner. We join my grandparents, great grandmother, uncle, mom and stepdad in a 5 generational dinner. Sometimes my brother and his wife can come and sometimes my cousins come, too. It’s a great opportunity to be able to connect without anyone having to do the dishes or clean up! We do all get together for holidays, too, but having a meal not-tied to a holiday relieves so much stress. My kids benefit so much from being close to their grandparents, great grandparents, and great grandmother! Over dinner, they get to see where they’ve come from and hear family stories. Even if you can’t meet up weekly, carve time out to have dinner with the family away from the pressure and business of holidays.
What are your favorite tips for spending quality time with your kiddos? Leave some tips below or join us on the Facebook page to share!
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