Kids are always on the go. Between school, sports, hanging out with friends, hobbies and other activities, sometimes it feels like we have to fight for space on our children’s schedules.
Assuming your kids are happy and healthy, there’s nothing wrong with staying busy - but a full schedule from sunrise to sundown leaves little time for family bonding. Here are a few simple ways to make the most of precious moments with your kids at any age.
1.Eat dinner (or another meal) daily as a family
Meals are perfect for rounding up your herd at the start or end of a busy day. Take this chance to ask your kids about what they’re working on, how they’re feeling, what they’re excited about and anything else that piques your curiosity. Offer encouragement, be interested in their lives and show that you care - it’s that simple. Some parents stress about having to make elaborate meals everyday, but there’s no need to wear yourself out. Meaningful conversation is the goal whether you’re dining on a home-cooked meal, takeout or leftovers.
As a bonus, there are tons of scientifically proven benefits to eating meals as a family, including less obesity, better overall health and happier kids and parents.
2.Take trips as a family
Carve out time in your busy schedules to spend a day or two exploring someplace new. Pack up the car with camping gear for a close-to-home escape or nab those last minute tickets to Hawaii - no matter what your getaway looks like, it’s guaranteed to be a memorable experience for your kids. It’s easy to get lost in distractions when you’re at home - trips are an ideal time to relax, reconnect and grow strong bonds with the ones you love most.
3.Tackle hard things together
There’s nothing quite like completing a tough project with your child. Experiences like finishing a daunting hike, building a beautiful piece of furniture or doing service for people in need are even more special when they’re shared with someone else. Find something that excites your family and go for it! Not only will you grow closer as a group, you’ll also have a chance to pass on important life skills to your kids, like goal-setting and high-level planning.
Once you’ve knocked out a goal together, set another one - by the time your kids are grown they’ll have all kinds of unique accomplishments and scores of fond memories to look back on.
4. Go to games, performances and events
To bond with your kids, get in their world - without embarrassing them, of course. Your teens might be going through that phase where it isn’t “cool” to hang out with mom and dad, but they will appreciate you showing up to special events like games and performances. These are their moments to shine and they’ll be thrilled to share them with you, even if they don’t express that to you.
5. Schedule family time
We all have whirlwind weeks where our kids are in and out at all hours and we’re doing everything we can to keep things together. Slow things down and reconnect with your kids by scheduling family time. You might even choose one night a week to go see a movie as a family, play games, go out to eat or do something special with everyone present. With older kids you’ll have the most luck establishing family time if you aim for the same schedule each week - that way everyone knows to not run off with friends or schedule something else during that special time.
Bonding with your kids doesn’t require a lot of time, money or resources - but it does require effort. When life gets busy, carve out time specifically to spend with family. If not, each free moment is at risk of getting sucked up by something far less important.