There are so many fun ways to spend time with your child. Whether you have one minute, an hour, or the entire day, slowing down life's hectic pace to spend time with your kids is rewarding and beneficial. Strengthen your bond with your son or daughter by using these simple yet powerful ways to connect and show your love.
How Much Time Does the Average Parent Spend With Their Child?
According to Our World in Data, the average parent spends about 150 minutes per day with their kids. Even though parents may be short on time, it's often the small, daily gestures of positive connection that make the biggest impact on a child. Anything from a secret handshake, to listening to their new favorite song, or showing them how to make a shadow puppet on the wall at bedtime counts as quality time spent with your kids.
Meet Them Where They Are
Show interest in your child's favorite things and join them in their hobbies. Listen to their favorite band with them in the car on the way to school, ask them to teach you how to play their favorite video game, make a funny TikTok video together, pass a soccer ball or play basketball in the yard, watch them build their newest LEGO set. Popping into their life to show you're interested in what they're enjoying at the moment will mean the world to your kids.
Read Your Favorite Childhood Books to Your Kids
Share the magic of great storytelling with your children by reading a chapter, or even just a few pages, of a book together daily. This is a great way to wind down at the end of the day, and it gives you both something to look forward to as you cuddle up together and escape briefly to another realm to see what happens next in the lives of characters like Wilbur in Charlotte's Web or Ivan in The One and Only Ivan. If your kiddo isn't ready to dive into a chapter book, reach for shorter reads like the Little Miss and Mr. Men books, which are sure to provide laughs at lights-out.
Tune In by Watching Movies & TV Shows
Making a connection with your kids can be as easy as sitting down next to them on the sofa to watch a fun movie or an episode of the TV show they're currently binging. You may even strike gold and find a show you both love watching that you can tune into daily. Take it up a notch by surprising your child with their favorite movie candy and a batch of freshly popped popcorn to make time together even more memorable.
Teach Your Kid a New Skill
Young kids are eager to learn anything their parents are willing to teach them. Harness their curiosity and turn it into bonding time. For younger kids, pull a chair to the sink and teach them how to wash the dishes or how to break the ends off snap peas while making dinner. For older kids, the sky's the limit! Teach them how to play a classic song on your guitar, how to sew on a button or how to build a birdhouse. A skill learned and time spent together is a win-win.
Volunteer to Support a Cause Dear to Your Family
Join forces with your kids to change the world by supporting a cause that's close to their heart. Whether you leave the house to volunteer at an animal shelter or to help serve food at a soup kitchen, or you do-good from home to knit hats for newborn babies, or assemble care kits for foster children, there are numerous ways to spend time together while making the world a better place.
Work Bonding Time Into Your Daily Routine
When you're especially low on time, any moment you have to spend with your kids can be made more extraordinary with a few simple tweaks. Make pancakes for dinner for a special treat, narrate bath time by giving their bath toys funny new voices, or bring a flashlight to tuck-in and make shadow puppets on their bedroom wall. Instead of grabbing your cup of joe to-go, have a sit down coffee/hot cocoa date with your little sidekick.
Walk the Dog With Your Kid
Turn the daily duty of walking the dog into a casual way to connect. Your kids will feel less pressure to make eye contact while you're both looking straight ahead on your stroll. This may free them to discuss topics they wouldn't bring up around the dinner table when put on the spot. Don't have a dog? Make the most of the time spent driving your kids to school and all their various activities to take advantage of having meaningful conversations that require less eye contact.
Go Camping, Anywhere
If you can head into the great outdoors for a camping trip, nothing beats the quiet of the forest as a backdrop for family bonding. But if a visit to the wild isn't in the cards, backyard camping and even living room camping can be equally fun. Pitch a tent on the grass or build a fort in the living room, set up your sleeping bags, tell ghost stories, and look up at the stars. If you have a firepit, roast marshmallows and make s'mores and campfire meals!
Give Your Kid the Power to Lead Playtime
Parents are usually the ones calling all the shots and making all the rules. Tell your kiddos they can lead playtime by choosing what activity you do together. Whether it's heading to the local playground to zip down the tunnel slide, playing a board game or card game of their choice, or making play dough, giving them the reins will empower them and show them you care about their thoughts and opinions.
Create a Secret Handshake Together
Sometimes life gets so hectic that parents and kids barely see each other in a day. Freeze time for a moment to connect with a fun handshake you can do upon your hellos and goodbyes. Ask your kid of any age to create a secret handshake that just the two of you share. It will then be a literal snap, to stop time briefly to engage and giggle with your kids while bumping fists and being lighthearted before going your separate ways.
A Little Goes a Long Way
Even the smallest things can develop into rituals your kids will cherish while growing up. Turn spare moments into memories by spending time with your kids on a level that works for both of you. Children crave their parents' affection and acknowledgment; and making them the center of your attention for any amount of time will go a long way in creating a loving and happy parent/child relationship.