What makes a good summer? I don’t think checking off all the items off a summer bucket list is necessarily the ticket to bond with your kids (which is why we are doing this instead of a list).
When I first was thinking about this post, the first tip that came to my mind was a little unconventional. I considered leaving this out, but it’s really been useful for me. That tip? It’s to get a babysitter or do a swap with a friend and watch each others’ kids for a few hours on a consistent basis. Why is getting help a tip to actually bonding with your kids? Because I believe in quality over quantity. As a SAHM/WAHM, I have a lot of quantity time with my kids, but I finally got it through my head that quality means more to me. Getting a sitter for 4 hours in the morning means my afternoon is free to be with my kids- body, mind, and spirit.
But what about the time we are with our kids? How do we make those stretched out summer days count and connect us on a deeper level? Here are a few ways I’ve found to bond with my girls this summer.
Set the clock for 30 minutes to 1 hour and let them call the shots. If you can do it without a time frame, kudos to you, but sometimes it helps me knowing it’s for a limited time. I’ve learned so much about my kids by letting them take the lead. I’ve learned their passions and what lights them up. I’ve learned that sometimes they’d rather just have me play dolls or build forts with them rather than do a fancy pinterest-worthy craft.
Look at photos and tell stories about the pictures. Yes, we love a good walk down memory lane. I’ve been using any free moment I have to try and finish off our 2017 family album (yes, I’m way behind, but Mixbook makes it easy to hop on and do just a little at a time). I’ve concluded I take way too many pictures, but when I see the joy my kids get from thumbing through our albums together, I know it’s worth it. Here’s more on how I turn family memories into keepsakes.
Make a mess in the kitchen. My girls LOVE making their own sourdough, pizza dough, and mixing things together until it resembles… you guessed it… dough! I let them roll it and mix it and then we bake it and taste their crazy creations. Other times I enlist their help with something real (like these apple cinnamon oat muffins) so we can all enjoy the product. We usually end up taking extras to the neighbors houses, which is another fun activity on its own!
Read aloud together. We all know reading with children is a simple way to improve their language and reading skills. But research also shows that reading with children actually stimulates patterns of brain development responsible for connection and bonding. This makes sense when we consider that story time usually involves cuddling, eye contact, and shared emotion. We’ve been in the habit of picking a single novel at a time (I recommend these!). We like to make it a special event when we can with snuggles, blankets, popcorn (sometimes special popcorn!), etc. Then we discuss the book, like a mini book club, and if one is available, we’ll watch the movie when we are finished with the book too, which is always a fun treat!
Another tip I heard once that has stuck with me is the importance of breaking the routine. As someone who typically enjoys having a routine and order, I completely agree that going off course sometimes leads to creating the strongest memories. Growing up my mom would sometimes announce a backwards dinner, where we’d bake and eat chocolate chip cookies for dinner, and to this day those nights still feel special and make me smile. Especially during the summertime, I love being reminded that it’s ok (and encouraged) to shake things up a bit. Making memories is what it’s all about!
How do you navigate quantity versus quality time with your kids?
What are your favorite ways to bond with your kids during the summer?