By: Christa Melynk Hines
I’ve always admired families who have regular game and movie nights with their kids.
Really, any positive activity that brings families together is terrific; but I have to admit, by the time the weekend rolls around, I’m looking forward to sending the kids off to bed and spending some leisure time hanging out with my husband.
I find the best times to connect with my two sons aren’t so much during planned blocks of time or activities, but rather during sudden opportunities captured throughout the week. Here are a few things that always bring me close with my kids and allow for true, genuine bonding — without a screen or board game.
1. Take Walks
Back when I had a pre-schooler and a toddler in tow, I’d drag out the stroller and we’d take family nature walks down trails that had a playground nearby.
I needed the exercise, and they liked to collect rocks, colourful leaves and point out bugs as we strolled. The bottom of my stroller always carried an assortment of their treasures.
These days, whenever I can talk one of my boys into going for a walk with me, I do. Walking side by side is a natural segue into conversation.
On their own, they aren’t competing for my attention, talking over each other or acting silly. They’re just being themselves.
2. Share Meals
We eat as a family at least five nights a week. Call me old-fashioned, but sharing a meal gives us an opportunity to connect without the distractions of television, technology or phones. We work on our manners and practice conversation skills while swapping stories about our days.
3. Read Together
Since the time my kids were babies, I have read them a story before bedtime. Now that my kids are older, my first-grader reads to me while my older son reads to himself. When my younger son is finished reading, we all pile under the blankets, and I read them a story of their choice.
Problems that the characters experience often bring up great questions and ideas from my sons we can then all discuss. And since my kids love funny books, we laugh a lot, too.
4. Get Creative
Usually, I get things done around the house while my kids colour; but one day, after a particularly exhausting morning, I decided to colour with them for a while.
As I sat down, I could feel something inside of me unwind. It was as if my spirit said, “Ah, now that’s more like it.” We got to talking, and they loved watching me colour pictures and showing me their work.
Most recently, my husband came up with the idea of having a pizza and paint night. We covered the table with newspaper and pulled out the watercolours.
All four of us sat around and made our “masterpieces.” I find art to be a relaxing way to bond because we are doing something simple together as a family.
No pressure. No rush. No interruptions. Just us.
Ultimately, planning a special activity with my family every now and then is a fun change of pace for all of us, but most important are those little moments of connection that can happen at any time and in any place. Sometimes those turn out to be the most memorable of all.
Christa is a freelance writer, family communication specialist and author. Her articles appear in numerous parenting publications across the U.S. and Canada. She is a staff writer at ParentingSquad and the author of “Confidently Connected: A Mom’s Guide to a Satisfying Social Life.” Christa resides in the heartland with her husband and their two active sons and a pair of playful mutts.
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