My daughters are now 23 and 20; full adults and no longer living at home. When I look back to the things that helped us to create connection and build a secure foundation for them, they always involved the simplest things:
- Having family dinner together every evening. Gathering around the table is an intimate experience; it is one where we can slow down enough to talk about our day, enjoy the comfort of food, create moments of laughter. One question we asked each night was “What was the best part of your day?” followed by “What was the worst part of your day?” If I had to do it again, I would add “What was something you were you grateful for today?”
- Send love notes in their lunch. I would write them on coloured index cards – sometimes with stickers. They could include a little joke, compliment or words of encouragement. Now that they both live away from home, I send postcards. 🙂
- Read together. When the kids were little (and not in school yet) we read every day at lunch before quiet/nap time. I babysat other children at that time, so all the kids would pick a book and we would gather on the couch together and read. It is one of my favourite memories of being a caregiver. Bedtime routine for my girls also included story time.
- Talk in the car. As the girls got older, sometimes the easiest place was to chat in the car. Less intimidating as they didn’t have to look directly at me, and they were forced to at least entertain the idea of opening up as we trapped together, tee hee.
- Vacation together. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money (this year due to the pandemic we rented a local cottage), but it is an important way to spend quality, relaxed, focus-on-fun time with our children. Some of our best memories have come from our vacations and we always walk away from them feeling more connected.
All of these ‘tips from experience’ are pretty basic – but they do involve time. And sometimes in our busy, activity-filled lives, we can set aside what we don’t have time for. If you have any of your own advice for what works in connecting to your kids, please write them in the comments section below!
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Photo credit: Me! This is a picture of me when I babysat. Here are my girls, my niece and nephew (who I often had for playdates!) and two of my littles at the time. Good memories 🙂