Have you ever caught yourself sitting on the couch after a long day, glass of white in hand, wondering when you last spent good, quality time with your child? Sure, you sang songs together on the drive to school, listened intently as she excitedly relayed the events of her day during the drive home, and maybe you even read her an extra bedtime story, but when was the last time you did something completely out of the ordinary with your child, just for fun, even though you had a million other things demanding your attention?
Longer than you’d like to admit, right?
Well, I have news for you, my friend: you are not alone. Countless other parents (myself included) coast through their mornings and evenings on autopilot, and while weekends should be about spending quality time together as a family, they are often dominated by groceries and laundry and extracurricular activities that leave us feeling exhausted and in dire need of a break by the time Sunday night rolls around.
The good news is that life doesn’t ALWAYS need to be like this. Yes, our little ones need to go to school, and we need to go to work, and all of the household chores need to get done whether we like it of not, but it’s important to take the time to turn all of that noise off every once in a while so we can LIVE IN THE MOMENT and enjoy the time we have with those we love.
So if you’re going to make and keep just one resolution this year, I urge you to pencil in some uninterrupted time with your kids each day so you can connect with them and make them feel like they are the center of your universe. Because guess what? You are the one person in this world who they count on to make them feel loved and safe and IMPORTANT.
And they are important, aren’t they?
There are heaps of great books filled with kids activities (my current favorites are 101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!, The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments by Holly Homer, and 150 Screen-Free Activities for Kids), but this list of 25 simple and inexpensive mom and me ideas is all you need to help you connect and have fun with your kids every. single. day.
1. Cook a meal together
2. Make a tent in the living room and read your favorite books
3. Pop some popcorn and watch your little one’s favorite TV show or movie
4. Play board games
5. Watch celebrity Sesame Street music videos
6. Crank the tunes and have a spur-of-the-moment dance party
7. Hula Hoop!
8. Go for a drive and let him blow bubbles out the window
9. Get creative with paints, markets, crayons, or playdoh
10. Visit your local library and choose some new books together
11. Go on a breakfast date before school
12. Have a water balloon or snowball fight
13. Work on a puzzle together
14. Get out the glow sticks, turn off the lights, and have a glow-in-the-dark party
15. Have a tickling contest
16. Eat dinner in bed
17. Get out the LEGO
18. Organize a birthday party for her favorite stuffed animal
19. Play dress-up and see who can stay in character the longest
20. Write a poem or song
21. Surprise him by delivering his favorite lunch to his classroom
22. Organize a scavenger hunt
23. Do a science experiment together
24. Play a good old-fashioned game of tag
25. Sit on the floor and play
Remember: spending quality time with your child doesn’t require hours and hours of your time. All you need to do is put the distractions away and give him or her your undivided attention so you can connect with them. And on those nights when you simply cannot squeeze in 15-20 minutes of silliness, it’s possible to make even the most tedious and boring tasks fun. Ask them help you prepare dinner while you crank some tunes and dance together, get on the floor and play with them while they’re in the bath, or crawl into bed with them and read 3 bedtime books instead of just one. The possibilities are endless!
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