Family: Connecting The Dots

By: Melinda McMahon

Backpacks and new clothes have been bought; pencils and papers are neatly stored. The bell has already rung and school is back in session. We are hearing requests for lunch; the rustle of handfuls of papers that need signed, filled out, and returned. The children have homework and activities of planned open houses and starting of clubs. Once again our lives have shifted, and we all are adjusting to a new routine and schedule, yet our minds and hearts might have become a little overwhelmed. So when we feel this immense pressure of added to-dos and we are being pulled in every direction, what do we do to keep our family connected?

Here are some friendly tips from my family to yours:

Don’t forget the importance of family meal time (even if that means take out)

This is a critical time to take a pause from the hustle and bustle, sit at the table, and talk to your children. No interruptions of phone calls and television shows, but time to converse and listen to them talk about their day, share jokes, discuss upcoming events, worries, fears, apprehensions, and so forth.

Lessen Screen time

Turn off the television set, computers, and video games. Spend time taking a bike ride, going on a family walk, playing board or card games. Don’t be afraid to get dirty and become hands-on, and to actually play with your children. They will love that you have joined in and have let loose. You will be amazed at the share of giggles and laughs, and memories made that will last a lifetime.

Take pleasure in bed-time routines

This is a great time, when the baths are over and your child is snuggled in their bed. Read a story to them, the topics are endless and great conversation starters for those harder to discuss issues.

Journaling or Scrapbooking

This is a fun and creative way to stay in touch with your children. Use a special notebook, that maybe you decorate together. Write a note to your child and leave it for them every night or morning. Once they have read it and placed something back in it, they will return it to you. This gives your child the freedom to write thoughts, and feelings down that may be harder for them to bring up. For a scrapbook, or younger child that doesn’t yet write, they can draw pictures or paste pictures that hold meaning or address how they are feeling, that they later can share with you. For inspiration check out this blog…

Put a Note in their lunch box

Don’t forget the importance of your words as a parent. This is an easy way to tell your child you are proud of them, wish them luck on a hard test, or on that upcoming sports game. You can share positive sentiments about how much you love them, or pin-point a special attribute of their personality. There are tons of places that sell cute little card/sticker sets for this purpose; Pinterest is loaded with cute jokes and sayings. For a creative twist, you can write on a banana peel with a toothpick, and the message will show up later when your child opens their lunchbox.

For those of you that have older children, that might not appreciate this sentiment with other children around, or might not take their lunch to school, you could send a special text message or leave them a nice voicemail.

Schedule time

Make it a point to schedule time to talk to your child on an individual and daily basis. Schedule some one on one time with each of your children, even if it is something small. Consider taking your child to get an ice-cream cone or for their favorite drink. Allow your child to pick places of interest to them and follow their lead, even when it means doing something you are not crazy about.

Be Present in the Unplanned times

Be sure to stop what you are doing and really focus on the moment. Even if just for a few seconds or minutes, really give your child your full attention. Connecting works best when we send the other person the message, that right now in this moment you are the most important than to me. Be sure to make eye contact and really listen to what is being said. This allows your children to know that not only are they important but what they are saying is important too. Show interest in what they are telling you. Encourage them to expand on what they are saying or have seen; explore their opinions, feelings, plans, or views. Be sure to not judge or correct your child, but really listen. Sometimes children just want to be heard like we do as adults. So aim to be there, without offering advice unless it is asked for.

Children and teens need to have stable, trusting, warm, and open relationships with their parents or guardians. As parents, when we provide this type of relationship to our children we are helping them develop their own independence, and better equipping them for the real world, thus they become responsible and sensible adults. The real and true key is just being there, children need to know they have our support and they can openly discuss anything with us.

[author image=”” ]Melinda McMahon has been a stay at home mom off and on for the past thirteen years, and currently has been home with her youngest daughter for the past four and a half. Melinda also goes to college full-time and homeschools her children.[/author]

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