Connection is essential in relationships of all kinds. Setting aside the day-to-day tasks and enjoying each other’s company is just as crucial for parent-child relationships as it is for partners. When you feel connected and cared for, communication and understanding can improve and conflict gets easier to manage. So whether you are dealing with many tantrums or behavior issues or want to strengthen your bond, taking time for designated time with your child is always a good idea.
Set the date and time in advance and let them know. If your child is old enough, you both can talk about it, and plan for it, so they know what to expect. Take the time to plan something you think they would like: a Pokemon battle and their favorite snacks at home or a trip to the arcade. It can be a walk through the park, a trip to the library, or a cafe date for hot cocoa. The point is to talk to them about it, plan it out and anticipate it together. They will know how special this time is for you to be with just them and do the things they like to do.
Do not bring other family members or invite friends. Play dates and family hangs are a lot of fun and have their place, but this is your special time. You want to focus entirely on your child without being distracted. One of the best parts of this experience is not having to keep tabs on other kids or siblings. You don’t have to multitask; if you have more than one child this will be a gift! Take it, make eye contact, focus on what your little one has to say and have honest conversations. Put your phone away, scrolling is a big no, no. That text, email and even phone call can wait. Unless it’s an emergency, leave the texting for afterward. Don’t think about your to-do list or the pile of laundry waiting for you at home. Be as present as possible and focus on the moment and experience you share with your child.
Make it fun
A lot of interactions between parent and child are about logistics. Brush your teeth, put on your shoes, eat dinner, and the list goes on. Let this time be about fun to the extreme. Be a rabble-rouser, instigate some silliness whenever possible and always join in when it’s already underway. When your child randomly starts singing or dancing while walking from one place to the next- join them! If they get a little messy with their food, play with them! If you ever struggle with being playful, let it be a requirement during this time.
You may not have time to make this a weekly or even monthly event but schedule it when you can. In the in-between time, focus on quality moments together at home. Set a time and tell your child they can choose anything for you to do together. Talk, play a game, draw- anything they want for ten minutes daily. Let them know when it will be and watch how happy it makes them to pick out what you will do. If you miss a day, that’s ok, but ten minutes can be fit in at least a few times a week. This is manageable and even with the short amount of time if you apply the same rules above, you and your child will enjoy the time together. Whether you’re going on longer outings or staying home for short moments of connection, quality time will make everyone happier and your family stronger.
Denise Nicole, aka @abrooklynbabe, is a birth and postpartum doula, wellness advocate and content creator. Her goal is to help people find sustainable and healthy habits for themselves and their families. Denise is very passionate about wellness for all, self-care and finding the perfect matcha. Denise is a mom of two.