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31 Simple Ways to Connect With Your Kids

Photograph by Twenty20

The other day, I was lamenting to my best mom friend about how quickly time is passing by.

I mean, seriously, wasn’t my second grader just in diapers? Now she’s practicing cursive. Wasn’t I swaddling my 9-month-old just yesterday? Now he’s crawling and cutting teeth. It’s crazy to me how years of sleepless nights add up to years of an amazing life together.

Of course, I’m so thankful they are growing and learning. I wouldn't want them to be struggling in school or having trouble meeting milestones. But just the same, it brings me to tears. Before I know it, they’ll be graduating and flying off to test out their wings. Then the monster tears will fall, for sure!

While I lamented how fast it’s all happening, I told my friend that I really want to connect with my kids better and make more of our time together. I want to cement happy memories into their minds and mine. I want to be intentional about what we do each day. I want to create meaningful moments that will serve as anchors in our mother/daughter and mother/son relationships. I want to connect so we remember. Then, when they eventually fly away, they will be drawn to soar by home base every now and again.

All this got me thinking: What are simple and easy ways I can connect with my little ones? I have four in my crew, so time-consuming art projects and expensive outings aren’t realistic most days. I need daily, meaningful opportunities that are high-impact and low fuss. Feel me?

Here are 31 ideas I plan to implement over the next month or so.

1. Walk to the mailbox together. Then, sort it, and explain what is what and why it belongs where it does (recycling, bills to pay, catalogs to browse, etc.).

2. Make a habit of saying a bedtime prayer or choosing an evening meditation to close our day.

3. Leave a love note—or love picture if your child isn’t a reader—on their bathroom mirror.

4. Let them sleep in your bed for a nap ... or a whole night!

5. Spend 15 minutes drawing imaginary animals with sidewalk chalk.

6. Say “I’m proud of you because ...”

7. Teach them a chore that is above their capacity. Help them practice. Praise their perseverance.

8. Read a chapter book together for 10 minutes each day. Stories give you a common topic to continue to converse about throughout the day.

9. Ask them to choose the dinner menu for a night and encourage them to make choices that will help their family be healthy and strong.

10. Let them choose a signature song, then sing and dance to it together.

11. Swaddle them like a baby—my kids think this is so fun and special—and tell them their birth story while you rock or snuggle in a chair.

12. Show them their baby book.

13. Let them be “mini mom” for 30 minutes: Have them follow me around and do all the mom chores by my side.

14. Pull a chair over to the kitchen and prep part of a meal together.

15. Eat dessert before dinner.

16. Set up an email address for them and schedule a weekly reminder on my phone to send them a short note to read when they’re older.

17. Take a selfie together, even if it’s a no-makeup home day.

18. Sit and watch their favorite cartoon with them, even if more pressing or productive things are calling for my attention.

19. Give them a piggyback ride, even if they’re old enough to walk.

20. Paint our toenails a matching color.

21. Give a foot massage with nice lotion.

22. Ask them what kind of hairstyle they’d like to try and practice it.

23. Print hard copies of photos, two copies of each, and play the game of Memory with photos of favorite memories/people.

24. Teach them a really good knock-knock joke.

25. Ask them for their favorite food, book, movie, game, park, time of day, outfit, etc.

26. Draw a portrait of each other, label your favorite parts (like: "your smile," "your blue eyes that match mine," "your fast running legs").

27. Do yoga together. We love "Cosmic Kids" on YouTube.

28. Listen to a piece of classical music and take turns sharing how it make you feel.

29. Build a Duplo or Lego creation together.

30. Let them pick a treat to share from the grocery checkout lane (you know all those tempting candies)—just because.

31. Teach them an acrostic with their name, noting all the great things about them.

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