One-on-one time. Everyone says having a bunch of kids is bad because you can’t spend quality one-on-one time with each kid each day. I think that mindset is faulty. It’s not necessary for a child’s development to have alone time with each parent every single day. Quite frankly, that’s not even practical for a family with only two kids. And that is not even addressing the sibling relationships that should be fostered.
What to do instead? Well, connecting with your kids is still important. It fosters a bond between parent and child that is so important for maintaining closeness, trust, and a loving feeling. I’m not at all saying that time with your children is not a good investment, just that the one-on-one time argument is a poor attack on large families.
Here are five ways you can make a meaningful connection with your kids that can take as little as a single second. The little things mean the most to them.
Look and Listen
We are all busy mamas. But are we TRULY busy with important things? Scrolling Facebook does not count as important. 😉 I know I catch myself doing the nod and smile if I’m on my phone and my kids want my attention. But it takes only a minute or even a few seconds to look up, see whatever they are wanting to show me, or to listen to what they have to say, and give an actual reply other than “uh huh.” It makes them feel like I’m interested in what they are up to. This helps to foster their willingness to come to me with what’s on their mind – an important relationship to nurture long before the tumultuous teen years.
It only takes a second! Eye contact and a smile when they don’t expect it. Let them catch you looking at them also. Okay, that part takes more than a single second, but you’d be surprised at just how much they look at us while they are playing. This is not only for approval (or disapproval; all kids like to test!) but so they feel secure. This is especially true for younger kids, like toddlers. Let them catch you watching them, and when they do, give them a big smile. You will likely see a smile of satisfaction in return as they go back to what they are doing.
A random hug here and there throughout the day goes a long way! Physical touch is important for kids. Now, as a mom of four little ones, I get touched out quickly each day! The end of the day is not good for me and sometimes I cringe at bedtime hugs. It’s nothing personal against my kids; I just am not a toucher. Kids love snuggles and hugs, though, so I try to allow as many hugs as possible in the first half of the day.
They like it when I go to them to initiate the hug also. If they happen to be standing next to me, I can pull them in for a quick side hug. If I go to help them with a project or schoolwork, I can give a kiss on the tops of their heads. This keeps the physical aspect of the relationship going, even if I later need to have them back off a bit.
Reading or Games
If your kids are like mine, they ask constantly for me to read books and to play with them. While I can’t say yes every time (I’d get nothing else done!), I find that saying yes means the world to them. For me to participate alongside them while they play restaurant, or sit and snuggle with them all piled on the couch with me while I read a book. Play board games or silly kid games like Cootie that aren’t really competitive. None of these options take that long! But they refresh your kids by showering your undivided attention on them for awhile.
One special thing we like to do in our house is make popcorn. It is so basic but somehow, it has become a ritual we do as a family. Pull out the popper, gather ingredients. Pour the kernels, with the little clinking sound they make when we fill the measuring cup. Everyone gathers around to watch the popping and gets a laugh out of it. The kids are genuinely excited by it!
Something else I do with my girls is have fondue. This is more of a task to set up but sitting with them around the fondue pot is a fun little adult-type activity they enjoy. Even if they don’t end up dipping that much. Next time I want to do a chocolate one – bet they’ll dip plenty then! They have to eat anyway, so while the prep and cleanup can be a tad laborious for doing special snacks, it’s not that much extra versus making a regular snack or meal.
What are your favorite quick ways to connect with your children?
This post is linked up at the Homeschool Review Crew!