Life can often seem overwhelming, especially during the early days of the school year as we struggle to find the routine for homework, dinner, bath, and bed. It doesn't seem like anyone in the family has much time or energy left for much more.
But connecting with your kids in a positive way doesn’t have to take a back seat. Often, the little things can make the biggest impact. Here are 10 easy ways to maintain a positive connection with your school-aged kids:
1. Turn the volume up!
When my kids' favorite song comes on the radio in the car, I turn it up loud and sing! I use this one often on the drive to and from school. It's a great way to decompress and puts a smile on everyone's face, including the people in the car next to us who think we're crazy!
2. Share those cute cat videos
If you see something you think your kids would like on Facebook or YouTube, save it and share it with them when you have a moment. I save cute memes and puppy pics to share with my daughter before bed and she loves it.
3. Write a love note
Your kiddos might not always be available for a chat, but you can write them a note anytime. A short message about something positive you noticed them doing is a quick and easy way to connect. Admit it – lunchbox notes from mom were your favorite too!
4. Ask for assistance
Ask your kids to help you with something – cooking dinner, doing the shopping, or folding laundry, for instance. It might sound boring to them, but it is a chance to chat and work together. Spice it up by letting the kids take turns choosing a dinner and helping you make it. Even if it's pancakes!
5. Ask about their day
I've found that if you ask a yes or no question like, "Did you have a good day?" you're likely not to inspire much discussion. So I try to ask an open-ended question such as, "What was the most fun thing that happened today?" or "What made your teacher smile today?" and take the conversation from there.
6. Take an interest in their interests
Take an interest in things they like. You never know, you might enjoy it more than you think! My fourth grader became obsessed with Five Nights At Freddy's. Honestly, I had no idea what it was. Turns out it's a video game that looks scary, but in reality is pretty tame. It only took her asking me 487 times if she could watch YouTube videos of Freddy for me to check it out. Now we watch them together, cuddled on the couch.
7. Let them stay up late once in a while
When Daddy works late on a weekend night, we stay up and have "Girls Night." For us, it means painting our nails and watching a movie. We've even had a sleepover in the living room!
8. Be spontaneous
It doesn't have to be big. Swing by the park during a day of errands. Stop for a slushie after school. Meet them at the bus stop with water balloons.
9. Be silly
Your kids are never too old to be silly and play with you! Join in a kids' game, even if they're playing school. Take silly selfies together using Snapchat filters. Read a story in super silly voices. Play laundry basketball.
10. Make time to say goodnight
Tuck them in, give them a private moment to share their hopes and dreams. They might not need swaddling anymore, but that extra hug and kiss mean the world to your babies, no matter how old they might be.