“Do it again, mommy. Do another pencil dive with me,” says my 8-year-old, waiting at the edge of the pool. “I don’t want to stop until I touch the bottom,” he says. I had created a monster. I had shown him how to do the pencil dive and now he can’t stop. I didn’t have it in my heart to tell him the first one sent water so far up my nose that I could hardly breathe and that I’d be ok if I never did one again. So what did I do? Naturally, I stood next to him and we proceeded to do about 30 more. Why? Because we were connecting and I wasn’t about to ruin it. It was the very moment that I had realized it had been too long since I had connected with him on that kind of level.
As parents today, especially living in the technological era that we do, we have to work harder to maintain a healthy connection with our children, and we can easily lose that connection if we’re not paying close enough attention. When we are fully connected, our children are much more likely to listen to us. They trust us. They feel safe. They feel protected. When we aren’t fully connected, our children act out much more often, our patience begins to run thin, and the negative cycle continues. As moms, our days are filled with so much, ensuring our children’s basic needs are met, feeding, bathing, affection, encouragement, as well as our never-ending to-do list. By the end of the day, we may realize we hadn’t truly connected with our children on a deeper level at all. However, once we recognize the need for stronger bonding, it’s not difficult to find our way back.
Below are some ideas on how to rekindle the connection with your children if it has been lost. It doesn’t take much effort, and reconnection happens immediately in many cases.
Communicate: Turn off the technology and talk to each other. The car is a great place for this. Turn off the radio and talk about what you see. For younger children, you can talk about the colors of the houses to the shapes of the street signs and buildings. For older children, you can talk about the architecture of the buildings to what kind of house they’d like to build. Talk about anything. Kids can learn so much from you in the car. It’s a great way to disconnect from the demands of life and reconnect with each other.
Discover what makes them tick: Ask them what they would like to learn more about. Take them to the library or book store and pick out books about that topic, or rent DVDs. You can do a project together or take them on a field trip regarding that topic. I really enjoy doing this with my children because it usually turns out to be a new learning experience for me, too.
Reading: We all know how important it is that our children read daily, but it’s also very beneficial when we read to them. My oldest has been reading on his own for years but I still read to him. I read out loud to both of my children together every night and I always pick out a book that is interesting and above their maturity level. Not only are you able to create a great bond with your children, you’re also increasing their vocabulary tremendously.
Baking: Not only is baking a fun and easy way to bond with the kids, it’s also educational. They don’t even realize how much they are learning, math, science, following directions, and above all, patience! There are many great no-bake recipes for kids as well if you’d rather not use the stove. Take your pick and start baking!
Act like a kid again: Just because you’re an adult it doesn’t mean you have to always act like one in front of you kids. Release your inhibitions in their presence in the moment. Now is the time to relive your youth. Show them the tricks you used to do when you were young. Play games with them, board games, pool games, hide-and-seek, tag. Our children enjoy when we let loose, and it feels great to be a kid again. The day I taught my son the pencil dive, I also taught him many other fun games I used to play in the pool. We now play them together, and laugh a lot! Let them choose an activity they would like to do together as a family for an hour a day. It’s not every day we get to act like a kid, so take advantage.
Volunteer together: Get involved with your children in giving back to your community. Research your area to see if there are any community service projects available. This is an incredible bonding experience while you are making a meaningful difference in the lives of others at the same time. It also teaches children the value of kindness, compassion and helping those less fortunate.
Above all else, laugh with your children as much as you can and enjoy them. It’s not always about correcting but rather connecting. Although serious matters require serious attention, parenting in general doesn’t have to be so serious. These years go by so quick, so embrace their youth while you can and continue to make great memories❤️