I just started listening to Sarah Mackenzie's podcast, Read-Aloud Revival. I love it! If you have been living under a rock, like I was, and are not familiar with the podcast, do yourself a favor and go and listen to it. The premise of the podcast is that you can connect with your kids by reading aloud to them.
Anyway, I was listening to her podcast and she had Dr. Meg Meeker on as a guest (episode #102). It was a brilliant podcast and I've listened to it three times. That's big for me, I rarely reread anything or re-listen to anything. In the podcast she talks about what kids really need and it's not (a big shocker) more stuff, or put in more clubs or activities, they need you. That's it, it really is that simple. Your kids, my kids, they just need some quality time with mom and/or dad.
I've thought a lot about this. My husband and I feel like we have a really good relationship with all of our kids. It's possible that we're just naturally amazing parents or that we naturally just have the coolest kids ever, but I know that isn't true. The reason we have such a great relationship with our kids is because of the time we spend with them and we intentionally do things to foster a loving relationship. I hope you know I'm not trying to pretend that we're perfect, but we like to remind our kids that we're pretty darn close. :)
Anyway, why does it matter if you and your kids have a good connection? First of all, let's establish that connection is just something in your mind. Don't believe me? Think of someone you have never met, like a celebrity, but you just love them. How can you love someone that you've never met? It's because feeling connected to someone is just a thought in your own head. So, you can decide that you have a connection with your kids even if they don't feel the same way back.
So back to my original question, why bother having a good connection with your kids? There are many reasons but some of my favorites are: it makes a much happier home, which is something I am always working towards, and it also benefits your kids for their whole lives. Kids who have positive relationships with their parents have better health as adults. Also, it has a positive impact on kid's physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
This doesn't have to be something difficult. You don't need to take your kids on a fancy vacation or buy their love, because that doesn't work. It's the small and simple stuff that makes the biggest impact. Here are a few ideas of ways to connect with your kid that requires little to no money:
- Sitting and listening to your kids with no cell phone
- Go on a bike ride
- Read a great book together
- Work on a project together
- Really hug your kid
- Go on a date together
- Homeschool or do homework together(with a good attitude)
- Go on a walk
Now this isn't going to work if you're angry, being mean, or yelling. It's difficult to connect to someone who isn't nice. So, do your best to show up as your best self, but also be understanding that you too have bad days. When you are making sure that on your good days you are trying to connect with your kids, they're a lot more understanding if you need some alone time.
Within the last two weeks I've canned green beans and grape juice. One of my monkeys helped me pick the beans and then all the kids helped snap the beans and helped with the grape juice. It wasn't necessarily the funnest activity, but we had a good time doing it; even though people were throwing beans and attempting to make outfits with the grapes. Bless their weird hearts.
It doesn't always matter what you're doing to spend quality time with your kids; it just matters that you are.