When you’re a parent whose day-to-day consists of a 9-to-5 (often turned 9-to-later-than-you’d-like-to-admit), spending time with your kids may not always be the easiest thing. Between the commute, the long hours, the stress, chances are that even when you are able to get home before bedtime, you don’t exactly have the energy to entertain your little guys. Sure, some quick, early morning playtime with their favorite toys is a good way to interact with them, but when you’re super busy, it’s special for kids to connect with their parents in more ways than just right before school or right after work. Here are some tips and ideas for you to spend some quality time with your kids (especially when time may be in slightly short supply).
When interacting with your children, try not to be a stickler about certain things. Don’t be afraid to get a little messy in the kitchen, and if something (insignificant) breaks around the house, don’t reprimand them harshly. Sometimes creativity and playtime come with a few mishaps, but it’s all in the interest of a good time and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
Even if you had a long and stressful day, make sure you take the time to sit with your kids and really pay attention to what they are saying. Don’t immerse yourself in your cell phone or the television. It will only make them feel like you don’t care and they won’t want to tell you stories anymore. So let them ramble on about one of their classmates or an activity they did in school, and make sure to ask them questions. It proves to them that you are engaged in the conversation.
As a parent, you should know when to tell your kids the truth and when to slip out a little white lie. When it comes to giving your kids advice or opinions about a situation, however, telling the truth is always the way to go. It’s always better to tell them what they need to hear, even if it may not be what they want to hear. In the end, it makes for a better, stronger relationship in the future.
The sense of touch expresses to your kids how much you care about them. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should go around hugging them every five minutes (that they will not be too crazy about). But a hug when you get home from work, or even small gestures like a high five after a baseball game well-played are a really important way to connect. Plus, you’ll want to show affection as much as you can before they get to their teen years because before you know it, they’ll be pushing you away so as not to embarrass them in front of their friends.
Make simple things a tradition.
Take your kids with you to grocery store on Sundays, or have dinner each night at a certain time, whether it be a home-cooked meal or pickup from the local Chinese restaurant. Kids enjoy routine and can get thrown off when things continue changing around them. They are already changing every day, so give them a little balance in their lives.
Read a bedtime story.
Reading to your kids before they go to bed each night has more than one benefit. Not only does it allow you to spend quality time with them, but reading aloud words and sentences gives them good language skills at a young age so they are better prepared for their futures. Bedtime is also a great time to spark conversations like how their day was or how they feel about a situation. Not to mention, kids love talking to their parents before they go to sleep because it allows them to stay up a few minutes after bedtime!
Spark conversation at the breakfast table.
Sitting down to a meal with your munchkins is always a good time for small talk. Although most parents ask their kids how their day was around the dinner table, shake things up and ask your kids about what their agenda is at school for the day or what they are most excited for. That way, it allows the kids to talk out their feelings, while also preparing them for the highs and lows of what the day has in store. It also opens the door for them to ask advice on anything coming up, and now, you have something to ask them about when you get home!