It seems that modern-day parents have found a new nanny. It’s not the traditional nanny who helps a kid take a bath, tie his shoes or walk to school. It’s the cool nanny that keeps children entertained while they innocently tune out from the real world.
You guessed it right. We are talking about those nifty gadgets and mobile devices that for some have made parenting a little bit easier. Mom wants to bake cookies for the kiddos? There’s a YouTube video for that. Mom wants to organize her children’s school activities? There’s an app for that. Mom’s friend comes by the house and she doesn’t want the kids to pry while they catch-up? There’s always a game that can be downloaded to keep kids busy.
There lies the irony. The objective of technology is to keep everyone connected, wherever they are in the world. But the obsession with technology has made reconnecting with children even more difficult. It seems more are connected to the device itself than to the people at the other end of the digital spectrum.
Based on a 2015 survey by market research firm Childwise, children today aged five to 16 spend an average of six hours or more every day in front of a screen. The concept of multi-screening, using more than one device at the same time, is becoming more popular with children. Another infographic showed that more than 25% of parents have downloaded apps for their kids to use.
So, do your kids prefer game apps more than spending time with you? Fortunately, there are many ways on how to reconnect with your kids. And no, there’s no app for that. Just more effort, attention, and some warm human touch.
What’s your story?
Tell your kid, “Hey, I’ve got a story.” But before you spill the beans, make an arrangement. You will only share your very interesting story if your kid agrees to share one with you, too. You can turn a normal day at work into an amusing story about a co-worker or a funny story about something that happened during an office break. You may also make up stories with a nice lesson at the end. It shouldn’t be too hard. Kids adore stories.
Shake up the routine.
Ditch the routine once in a while and give your children something to look forward to. Stop sounding like a broken record telling your kids every day to eat dinner, brush their teeth, do their homework, and go to bed. Switch up the routine with a dance party in the kitchen, a classic board game or a round of charades. Anything that would break the monotony is a good way of staying connected with your child.
Share their interests.
This does not mean you have to like or do the same things. If you say you are way past Disney, then you are. But if your daughter tells you she adores a certain musical or Disney show, listen and pay attention. One way of how to connect with your daughter is to also share similar interests that you’ve had when you were her age. This will prove that while you are generations apart, you can still stay connected. Play dates are also a fun way to celebrate family togetherness in your condo or home.
Ask them out on a date.
Have you seen that viral video of a handsome man preparing for a date? He put on a suit, shaved, and even bought flowers. The special girl? His daughter. Okay, maybe not all parents can pull such a thing. Every parent is different after all. The idea is just to ask your kid to go out, just the two of you. The other parent can pick another schedule. This is especially recommended if you have more than one kid so you could have a special bonding time with each child. It helps if you share something that is common to only the two of you.
Squish in bed.
It could just be five or ten minutes but it’s worth its weight in gold. Make it a habit to snuggle and cuddle before going to bed. You can share silly jokes and bedtime stories while you’re at it.
Play their games.
Instead of trying to beat each other in a video game, why not put down the joysticks and go back to basics? You will discover that there are a lot of Wi-Fi-less ways to reconnect with your kids. Play catch in the condo’s play court with your young boy or set up a tea party with your baby girl.
Fun in the car.
Ever seen one of the episodes of carpool karaoke with James Corden? That’s a fun way of taking advantage of the car ride to school. Make your kids put down their phones and sing some radio tunes, point things through the window or simply chat.
Grow something together.
Kids like to get their hands dirty. For some reason, there is something about soil and digging that they just love. Cultivate this natural interest in them by growing something together. Plant an herb or start an indoor garden right in your condo. Every day, check how much the plants have grown. That is a wonderful start of a conversation and kids can also get very excited. As the plants grow and blossom, so does your relationship.
Watching people as they go about their business is one of the most effective things to do if you are counting down hours. You wouldn’t believe two hours have gone by once you’ve started observing people. Sit in a common area in the community and watch cars, pets, and people. This is also a good way to teach children about people in general.
Create something with your hands.
Don’t just sit there when your kid is trying to paint or draw something. Join in. It would be great to have a project together such as a DIY recycling project. It is always a good thing to have something around the house that has a lot of history in it.
Do something for the first time.
Go on an adventure. It could be a road trip, hiking or camping. Discover the great outdoors and do something for the first time as a family. It would be nice to share an awesome experience together. Rest assured that family adventures are going to stay with your kids as they become adults.
Hug it out.
A warm, tight hug goes a long way. Hug your children every day. No matter how long and tiring your day was, it is important to show your kids that going home to a lovely family is something that everyone should be looking forward to.
Telling your children to ditch their gadgets may seem tough. But once you show them how fun it is in the real world, their virtual world will have to take a backseat. Reconnecting with children requires time, effort and consistency. Obviously, nothing that true love can’t beat, right?
Jeanette Anzon is a graduate of Architecture. She enjoys photography, sketching, arts, film, writing and continuous education. To get to know her more, you can follow @jeanetteanzon
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