There’s a lot for a parent to get done in a day. There are places to go, meals to prep, work to complete and dishes to wash. In the midst of all of it, it can seem impossible to prioritise actual connection and bonding time with our kids. We want to connect with them, of course we do! But we also have to cook the spaghetti and get the meal on the table before it’s time to leave for lacrosse practice.
Rachel Garlinghouse writes for Scary Mummy that she is tackling this conundrum by making what she calls a “connection list” for each of her four kids:
I had an idea. What if I made a list of the specific, effective ways I could spend time with each of my kids, ways they love and respond to? Instead of always trying to generate superficial moments on demand, what if I was proactive and prepared? Would it work?
I pulled out a notebook and wrote each kid’s name at the top, and then started filling in the things they enjoyed doing with a parent.
I like this because often, when we’re in the thick of the day, we can see that our kids are craving a little connection with us. But thinking of a way to make it happen while you’re already busy multi-tasking, is just one more thing your brain doesn’t have time for. But if you’ve got a pre-made list of ideas already hanging on your refrigerator, you can glance it over and think, “Ah, I’ll send her upstairs to grab a favourite board book to read together while I wait for the water to come to a boil.”
The list can—and probably should—include a mix of quick-hit, spur-of-the moment ideas and bigger-commitment ideas that you save for when you have an unexpected window of time open up or a special one-on-one “date.”
Quick connection ideas might include reading a book, pulling up their favourite song on Spotify and having a four-minute dance party, playing a round of Go Fish, or bringing them with you, solo, to walk the dog.
Bigger commitment activity ideas to keep on-hand might include baking their favourite cupcakes together, playing a more in-depth board game, tackling an art project or going for a long bike ride in the park.
Cater the list to what each child most enjoys. And if you need more inspiration—just ask them. There may be things they love to do with you that you don’t even realise is special to them.
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