INSIDE: Find it hard to split your time between your kids and all the household chores? Doing all the things whilst being fully present is tough! And so, in this post, I’m sharing seven simple things you can do to stay connected to your child – no matter how busy you might be.
Have you ever got to bedtime and felt like you’ve not really connected with your child?
Even though you’ve been with them all day? I know how you feel. The daily distractions of housework, errands and getting dinner on the table regularly get in the way of me spending proper time with my youngest.
The time just goes so fast. And although we’re living under the same roof and will often be in the same room as one another, we won’t necessarily be ‘together’. I’ll be with Harrison, but I won’t be ‘with’ him. He’ll be doing one thing and I’ll be doing something else. He’ll be drawing or colouring and I’ll be prepping dinner. Or he’ll be working on his latest Lego creation and I’ll be doing the hoovering and dusting.
Now he’s a little older, there are times where we aren’t even in the same room too. He’ll be in the lounge watching TV or upstairs playing in his room and I’ll be in the bedroom folding laundry or tidying up somewhere else. And if I’m honest, that bums me out a little.
Don’t get me wrong, I know I cannot give him my attention all the time – it’s just not possible. And I know too that time by himself is good for him. It encourages imaginative play and teaches him to enjoy his own company. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling frustrated that all the ‘mum life’ jobs that need doing get in the way of us spending quality time together.
And not having that quality time together makes me feel disconnected. I need and want to spend time with Harrison and he needs and wants to spend time with me too. But there’s no getting away from the fact that all those household tasks that keep calling my name need doing too!
So how do I find the balance?
How do I get things done around the house and still stay connected to my child? How do I split myself between time with him and time on all those household chores?
Below are a few things I do to help me keep that connection alive whilst ticking things off my to-do list. If you wish you had a better connection with your child or you find it difficult to get things done AND spend time with them, hopefully, they’ll help you too!
How to stay connected to your child…
#1. | Time-block your chores
One thing I learned very early on was that in order to get things done as well as have time for my youngest, I needed to time-block my chores. I would spend ten minutes doing the housework followed by ten minutes with Harrison followed by ten more minutes of housework. I would repeat the cycle until I’d done what I needed to do.
For example, I would spend ten minutes doing the washing up followed by ten minutes of drawing or colouring. Or ten minutes doing the hoovering, followed by ten minutes of Lego. Or ten minutes of cleaning the bathroom before snuggling on the sofa to watch cartoons.
There’s a bit of flitting back and forth and it helps if your child is a little older but time-blocking your chores is totally worth it. Not only does Harrison let me get on with things because he knows he’ll have my undivided attention again very soon, I don’t feel bad about ignoring him either!
Related: How to Get Things Done when the Kids are Off.
#2. | Connect through touch
It’s a well-known fact that physical affection is good for our health. Whether it’s a hand on the shoulder as we walk past, a stroke on the cheek during conversation or a hug that never ends, physical contact really does make all the difference. No matter how disconnected we might feel, a moment of physical affection makes everything right again.
And so, one of my favourite ways to stay connected to Harrison is through touch. I might not always have time to sit and play a game with him but I definitely have time steal a hug or squeeze his hand as he walks past. Want to stay connected to your child? Seize every opportunity you can to connect through touch too.
#3. | Disconnect to reconnect
Did you know that we check our mobile phones roughly every 12 minutes? Or that we spend around 24 hours a week online? That’s a lot of time given to our devices and social media! I want to be fully present when I’m playing with Harrison and so I try as best I can to disconnect to reconnect. If my phone is in front of me, I’ll be tempted to keep picking it up. And so, for the time I’m playing with him, I’ll put my phone on silent and leave it in another room.
If you’re easily distracted by the notifications and apps on your phone, try doing the same. Eliminate the distraction and you’ll find it easier to be fully present and stay connected with your child. And the text messages and notifications will still be waiting for you afterwards – so you won’t have missed out on anything!
Related: 12 Habits to Instantly Make Life Better.
#4. | Be intentional about how you spend your time
Every week, since Harrison was small, we’ve spent an afternoon together at our local coffee shop. Originally a way of getting us out for some fresh air, exercise and time together, it’s become a family tradition that we’ve come to love and look forward to each week. In the early days, we’d simply play with a few toys or look at a few board books whilst he sat in the highchair. Then, when he was at playschool, we’d use the time to practice his reading and writing. These days we do his homework over a hot chocolate and brownie.
Being this intentional about how we spend our time helps us to stay connected. For us, it’s non-negotiable. We don’t always do it the same day each week but we make sure we fit it in somewhere. No matter what else is going on during the week, we know we have this pocket of time together – just he and I – to look forward to.
Want help with how to be more intentional about how you spend your time together? Chandra from Laboy Joy has a great post on how to enjoy authentic bonding time with your kids. In it, she talks about mother-daughter bonding, but the same principles apply if, like me, you have a son instead.
#5. | Choose quality over quantity
There’s this misconception that in order for our kids to have a great time, we have to do something big and grand or spend a lot of money. But it’s simply not the case. I asked Harrison what he liked to do best with me and do you know what he said? Drawing, playing Lego and walking the dog! Nothing fancy, nothing with an entrance fee and nothing that requires too much effort.
The reality is that our kids don’t care about how much we spend on them, they just want to be with us. And for us to be fully present. Want to stay connected to your child? Choose quality over quantity. Grab those little moments when you can and make the most of them. Ask your kids what they like to do with you and do that instead of worrying about where you can take them next.
#6. | Take more photos
When Harrison was younger, I used to take pictures of him ALL the time. But they wouldn’t just stay on my phone. I would get them printed and put them up around the home too. A habit I’m trying to pick back up, photos are great for helping us to feel more connected to our kids. Not only do they preserve the happy memories of growing up, but they give our kids something to look back on when they’re older too.
Last summer Harrison and I spent the weekend in London together and I turned the photos we took into a photobook. He loves sitting together and looking at the pictures whilst talking about everything we did together. Want to keep your connection with your child strong and foster happy memories? Take more photos and get them printed! Better still, create a photobook you can look through together whenever you have a few minutes. Not sure what pictures to take? Check out this list of 100 fun family photo ideas.
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The best way to have to quality family time and create lasting memories? Spending money on experiences, not things. . Harrison and I spent two days in London earlier this month and we had the BEST time ever. A break I’d been promising him for ages, we stayed at the @grangehotels City Hotel and did the most AMAZING Rib Ride courtesy of @thamesribexperience. We had dinner at my favourite @phorestaurant at @onenewchange and at Harrison’s request we walked across the #MillenniumBridge, saw #ShakespearesGlobe, explored the @goldenhinde_ and had breakfast by the riverside next to the #TowerofLondon. . He’s growing up so fast. Losing two summers to fighting breast cancer has made me more determined than ever to make the most of these years. Quality time with your kids…#priceless!
#7. | Be silly!
The final thing that’s really helped me to stay connected to Harrison over the years no matter how much we have going on? Being silly! It’s so simple yet it’s probably the most effective one of all. No matter what’s going on or how busy I am, there’s always time for a quick dance around the kitchen whilst singing to our favourite song (music is such a great way to connect with your kids). There’s always time for a silly selfie too. And, during those ten minutes before I start another time-block of chores, there’s always time to watch a funny YouTube video.
If you want a quick and easy way to stay connected to your child, this is it. It’s so easy to be silly together and it only takes a second. But you’ll laugh, you’ll smile, you’ll have fun and it’ll help strengthen your bond too. How can you and your child be silly together? Do at least one silly thing together every day and you’ll be amazed by how more connected you feel.
Staying connected to your child…
It’s not easy to spend quality time with our kids or to be fully present with them. Especially when there’s always so much to do. But, if we’re intentional about how we spend the time we have, if we make the most of the moments we do have and we grab every opportunity we can – even if it’s just for five minutes, it is possible to stay connected to our kids – regardless of how big that pile of laundry is!
That’s it for this post! Do you struggle with staying connected to your child? What do you do to keep the connection strong? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time…
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