Eighteen years. That’s the most, as parents, we typically get with our children — to call them ours, to raise them, to hold them close. And it all goes by in a flash. But there are effortless ways to connect with your kids in that precious time.
They’re simple moments, conversations, and activities that don’t require lots of planning and that will be the memories they talk about and holiday traditions they carry on with their own kids.
It wasn’t until my 2nd kid that I realized just how fast they grow.
I sat dumbfounded that somehow I had a 10 month old & was celebrating my oldest’s 3rd birthday (because the 3-year-old should have been the baby in my mind). I don’t want them to grow up, but I don’t have a choice. And contemplating our family life, I realized it’s the effortless ways to connect with your children that can have the biggest impact.
The ones that can both transform their childhood and help you feel like you’re creating a meaningful relationship with each of them.
Easy ways to bond with your child
Ask simple questions to learn about their day.
We have learned that spending time at the end of the day recapping our days has helped us learn about each other and our children. One high point and one low point of the day for each person and we all reflect on how to make tomorrow a better day together.
It opens up conversations that wouldn’t have been discussed before and offers insights as a parent that I didn’t realize were either so exciting or important or so frustrating.
Establish a family stroll from birth.
Walking and strolling together can be a great way to decompress from a long day. It’s a way to enjoy the breeze and spend time with one another. Talk to each other. Relish in the moments, while making it at least a weekly, if not daily event.
Investing in something simple like a Perfect Fit™ 4-in-1-Trike is a great way to enjoy those strolls as a family. It grows with your kids to allow it to be a part of the memory making; both my 10 month old and my 3-year-old use it in their own ways with the different features it offers for the specific ages. It has grown with each kid so we can use it for that stage of development.
We take the baby on a stroll harnessed in it and the toddler is learning to pedal which makes for entirely different kind of family walk. And sometimes we swap features in the middle of the walk with a few simple adjustments so it’s not just growing with an individual kid, but also between children.
Make Holidays a big deal.
It doesn’t even matter if you have a boat load of gifts for every occasion, what matters is that you made those times special. Like going for a family walk and riding bicycles and tricycles after the Thanksgiving meal, playing games all day to ring in a new year, or going to a movie on Christmas day. They’re all things that make the holidays really special. And the special occasions are usually the ones we remember most.
Relish in the small achievements.
It’s those small times when your child learns to pedal, but doesn’t know how to steer. You cheer with them because they tried and put forth great effort, even if they still have more work to do.
On a recent walk in a local park, I steered the parent handle of our trike while my 3 year old focused intensely on working her feet to pedal. It was a precious moment I savored because she felt so big and independent because she was pedaling, while she had no care in the world about steering.
Enjoy watching them grow
Investing time and watching them grow up is a part of the parenting process. Learning to love them for who they are and who they are becoming is a huge part of what it means to connect with your kids.
Teach them and be with them during the rites of passage during childhood. So as they learn to pedal and not just ride, savor the moment!
Play with them.
Find a fun new craft, kid recipe, or activity to do with your kids on Pinterest. Enjoy the time with them. Get down in the floor and tickle them. Make them laugh. savor every second that they are little.
Hug them & hold them close.
It’s been said that a 20 second hug releases oxytocin, the love hormone. So hug your kids, make them feel loved and find this way of connecting with your kids something you do daily and often. Hugging, cuddling, and staying close can be so beneficial to us all.
My daughter always asks to cuddle. She wants to watch movies and catch some of her favorite short videos while sitting in my lap or resting on my arm. And while sometimes I feel the need to “do” and “accomplish”, I have learned that connecting with my daughter during these small moments is more important.
Always stand behind & stand up for them.
Whether you’re pushing them along, helping guide them or just a few steps behind there to help them when they fall, standing up for them and behind them is not just about watching them grow with their trike.
It’s about real life and making them feel valued & appreciated.
While there are moments of disappointment in parenthood and tough times disciplining them and teaching them consequences, there is still an opportunity to stand up for them. We can easily tell them that while they made a mistake, we will never leave them and they are always loved.
Proudly share pictures.
It doesn’t matter if you’re blowing up someone else’s news feed, in the age of social media it’s a privilege to be able to share photos instantly to anyone around the world.
It instills confidence in them and is an easy way to let your children know you’re talking about them positively, that you love them, and that you’re so proud of what they’re achieving (or even just enjoying).
Put down the camera. Place your phone in another room. Take time to make memories and watch them happen instead of merely documenting them. I struggle with this myself as I am always taking pictures. But the eye contact and personal connection has been far greater than any “perfect picture”.
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At every stage of childhood, it’s about making the most of the moment.
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Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!