Between getting home from work, picking up the kids from after-school care, dropping them off at practice, getting homework done and starting dinner, there’s not much opportunity for one-on-one time. But it can be done!
Here are some ways to fit in meaningful conversation between after-school activities and maintain those all-important lines of communication.
Captive in the car
We spend hours in our cars chauffeuring the kids to wherever they need to go. Once they’re in the car and buckled into their seats, they have no choice but to engage in conversation with you. But first you have to relieve them of their electronic devices (if they’re old enough to have them) and don’t forget to turn your car radio off, too.
Once all is quiet, a simple question like: “What was the best part of your day today?” can get the conversation going. It’s important to be engaged, really listen and ask follow-up questions instead of just uh-huhing. Kids know when you’re not listening.
Inevitably someone will say something that might shock or concern you. This is a perfect time to open the topic up for discussion instead of shutting it down because you want to avoid embarrassment.
If you shy away from uncomfortable discussions, so will your kids. It’s important to get all the facts, too. Many times children repeat things they’ve heard at school and the story might not be quite right. If you feel that there is unacceptable behaviour going on during school hours, schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher and voice your concerns. Best to nip trouble in the bud before it gets out of hand.
Cheer the kids on
Yes, you’re busy, and piano lessons and ball practices are good opportunities to run and get some groceries or meet your sister for coffee. But sometimes watching your kids rehearse or take part in hockey drills are the times when they achieve that next big hurdle in their physical development and the first thing they’ll do is look to the stands to see if you saw it. Being there for games is important for sure, but those in-between times can be just as important, too.
Everybody pitches in
From cooking to cleaning to laundry, kids need to learn from an early age that running a household is a lot of work. And what better way to bond and interact with your kids than to get them to help fold laundry or learn how to make a simple salad for dinner.
When my daughters were small I let them help with cooking and baking because they were interested. Getting them to do other household chores was a chore to say the least. I kept at it though, and to my delight, both of them were doing their own laundry by the time they were twelve years old.
Doing chores together is more than teaching your children responsibility. It’s an opportunity to laugh together, share stories, give advice and just be an ear for their concerns and silly stories.
Special moments happen spontaneously, they’re not planned. The more time you spend with your kids, the more you create the opportunity for those moments to occur.