Connecting with your kids can be hard when life is busy, and that can be especially true during the school year. A bit of a free spirit, I’ll never forget the day the school calendar came home the first year we stopped homeschooling and put our son into a school. Suddenly someone outside of our family was telling us where we had to be and when we had to be there. My son now had his own schedule…and he was in the early elementary! I rankled. Then I relented. Free spirit or not, this was not a bad thing; structure is good, and reality is that we don’t always get to do what we want, when we want. It’s a valuable reality for our kids to learn. However, in today’s America, we have to work hard NOT to be over-scheduled, frenetically running, and fully tapped out both as individuals and as families. So how in the world do we capitalize on fleeting moments and connect with our children? My suggestion is to capitalize on the transitions – those times when you’re going from one thing to the next. Here are some ways to do it:
- In the morning: If you’re in the car with your kids in the morning, pray with them. Give them the gift of starting the day with a moment of quiet acknowledgement of the One who created them. If they ride the bus, carve out just 30 seconds; once they know this is the routine, that’s all it’ll take to do a simple petition that God would bless their day and that they would choose to bless others. Still too frenetic? Try this: when you wake your children in the morning, take a few moments to pray over them. What better way for them to wake than from the sound of Mom or Dad’s voice asking for God’s hand in their day.
- In the afternoon: They’re hungry; they need a snack; they want to head out and play for a bit; they have homework. This is major transition time. As you move through this transition time with them, as a few questions. Try things like, “What was the best thing that happened today?” or “What happened today that you didn’t like?” You’ll be amazed what you’ll learn just with a couple of questions like this. I learned, for example, that my son struggles with math. His grades didn’t show it, but his responses to those questions told me that it’s a major effort for him to make those grades. It gave me insight into one area that he could use some extra encouragement in.
- In the evening: This can be a major challenge, particularly as your kids get older and have sports or band practices and other such activities. Take a cue from a common “homework assignment” in marriage counseling, and make it a practice to sit for just five minutes and verbally connect before they go from practice to their room to do schoolwork. You can tweak the questions above and use those, or perhaps this is just a time for them to share without being led.
I get it. Even these simple and quick practices may mean you have to modify the way you do things just a bit. I think it’ll be worth it, though. In a digital world, our children need to learn to connect face to face and voice to voice. In a frenetically over-scheduled world, they need to learn that it’s okay to sit for a few minutes; the balance is necessary. I hope like we have, that you’ll find that working these little connection points into your day draws your family closer and gives you opportunities to speak into your child’s world naturally and regularly. Blessings in your connections!
Share…would you comment and share how you make connection happen at your house?