We parents spend the majority of our waking hours working toward shaping our children into the kinds of adults we want them to be. We campaign to have them be more organized, better students, courteous, etc. But sometimes our objective should be to simply relate to our kids and enjoy them so they don’t go through life feeling like a project you’ve undertaken.
Flawed, fragile, wonderful little people. And sometimes they need a relationship with us that is more about nurturing and bonding than about checking something else off the to-do list. So try one of our 8 Great Ways to Bond With Your Child to slow down and just be together—with no agenda.
1. Find the fishing hole.
A leisurely day of fishing or hunting can be a great way to unwind together without so many parent-child issues pressing in. So pack a cooler with lunch and go enjoy the outdoors together.
2. Read a good book together.
Finding a page-turner you can read aloud to them in installments over several days or weeks creates a restful, intimate zone for the two of you to exist in. Stop and talk about what your child thinks about the story. Ask what he would do if faced with the same circumstances as the characters. His answers will give you a glimpse into how he perceives the world.
3. Teach her something fun.
Life doesn’t have to be all long division and how to make your bed. Have some fun by teaching your kid something less serious, like how to grill the perfect burger, how to bake cupcakes, or how to build a boat together. Make it low pressure and full of laughs–even if it’s a disaster.
4. Take a long walk together.
During the long days of summer, take advantage of the extra daylight by taking walks together after dinner. It doesn’t have to be a power walk or even really about fitness. Just make it a chance to explore the neighborhood together, talk about your day, and maybe give the dog a little exercise.
5. Have a standing monthly date with mom or dad.
Each of your kids needs a little one-on-one time with you to connect. Make a regular date for dinner or ice cream with each of your children where it’s all about them—no talking about heavy stuff, either. Just fun.
6. Slumber party.
Every once in a while, let them come hang out in your room at bedtime. Pop some popcorn, snuggle up, and have movie time together. Better yet, just talk or play board games.
7. Out yourself as a former goofy kid.
Your kids may have trouble thinking of you as anything but a mom. Tell them a funny story about something funny you did when you were their age or about something embarrassing that happened to you (like that time you got a rip in the seat of your pants in gym class). Laughter shall ensue.
8. Road trip.
Some Saturday, surprise your child with a daylong road trip to somewhere fun or interesting. It doesn’t have to be Disneyland, either. A museum, a natural attraction, or the World’s Largest Ball of Twine exhibit—it’s not so much about the destination as the journey. Don’t forget to stop for lunch at a spot they love, and probably for ice cream, too!