There’s a natural tendency for us as parents to fall into the routine of daily family life. The reality is that between school, work, cooking, cleaning, running errands, sports, extracurricular activities and more, we are so busy juggling our adult responsibilities and time with our families—many times to the point where it’s so exhausting that it’s hard to tell what day it is anymore.
I’ve definitely found myself caught in a cycle of preschool drop offs and pickups, work, household tasks and my daughter’s dance and ice skating lessons.
But it’s necessary to take a step back when this happens and dedicate time to building relationships with the people who matter and count on us most—our children. After all, they won’t remember what a super-parent you were in getting all these things done. They’ll remember you because of the efforts you made to nurture and cultivate your relationships with them. They’ll remember all the times you were there for them when they needed you, the conversations you had and the precious moments you shared together.
Make it a point to prioritize and set aside time to really strengthen those bonds with your kids. Here are some ways you can do so:
Play with your kids.
I’m 26 years old and I still remember enjoying many games of “hide-and-seek” with my parents. I can recall them joining in as I played with my Barbie dolls, and rocking on with me and my brother as we sang and played instruments in our “Rock Band” video game.
These are the memories your kids will grow to cherish, especially when they reach adulthood and have kids of their own. I can attest.
If they want to play tea time, sit down and drink that imaginary tea and eat those invisible pastries they’re so proudly handing you. If they want to play ball with you, go outside and join them. And if they’re older and want to play board games or video games with you, do it.
The smiles on their faces and joy this brings them is worth leaving everything else aside for a moment. And before you know it, your children are grown and opportunities to play with them are a lot more limited. So, cherish this time while it lasts.
Read with them.
Reading a book with your kids gives you the opportunity to experience imaginary worlds and adventures with them through story. You get to share in the wonder of what comes next, and be a part of the excitement of where the plot goes.
My daughter absolutely adores reading books with us at the end of the day. She looks forward to it, and gets so happy when she gets to choose the story we’ll be diving into for the night. And when I read to her, her little eyes fill with awe at what the story holds. It’s the same look I gave my mom when she read me the Junie B. Jones books I loved so much when I was younger.
Read with your kids, and let them choose the adventure (story) you’ll embark on to bond and bring you even closer together.
Be present for the things that are important to them.
There’s nothing more calming yet exciting for kids than to have their parents support and cheer them on in the things they are passionate about.
For every play and choir concert, my parents were there. For every milestone in the things that brought me joy, they were there. They were there to celebrate my triumphs, and offer comfort during my failures.
No matter what, if something I was involved in was important to me, they were always there. And that built upon the foundation of trust and respect that I had with them because I knew I could always count on them to be my biggest cheerleaders.
Show your children your unconditional love and support as they do the things that are really important for them. And in turn, show them you respect and care about their dreams.
Talk to them and really listen to what they have to say.
Let your kids know they are heard and you care about what they have to say. Focus and really listen when they’re talking to you. Learn about their interests and what’s going on in their lives and offer your advice and input if they solicit it.
Keep your feedback free of judgement, so they know they can trust and confide in you. Let them know you are there for them 100 percent if they need someone to talk to.
Face-to-face interactions and conversations are the foundation of most of our relationships. And they should definitely play a big part in our relationships with our children. So, sit down and have real, genuine conversations with them to strengthen that sacred bond you have with them that you hold so dear.
Dedicate days specifically to them.
Whenever either of my parents told me I was going to have a day dedicated to one-on-one time with either of them, I was always so excited—especially since I was a sibling who shared their attention with my younger brother.
Whether you have multiple children or not, dedicate days to give each of your kids your undivided attention. Take advantage of the time you have to spend solely with them in an effort to get to know them as they grow and change and experience different stages of life.
Even when chaos surrounds, make sure your children know you will always make the time to focus in on them because they matter most.
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