While it’s important to build and maintain your connections with your kids throughout the year, summer can offer special opportunities and extra time to do this.
As our country moves out of the isolation of the pandemic, this summer can be an even better time to focus on these bonds. Everyone, kids and adults alike, are ready for fun, rediscovery, and a chance to experience normalcy again. Summer is a great time to do this.
You’ll be rewarded by your children’s excitement and enthusiasm.
Focus on Screen-Free Fun
Many of us are tired of Zoom meetings. And it’s been very easy to allow our kids to have additional screen time in order to occupy hours indoors while social distancing or trying to work from home.
Unfortunately, all this screen time isn’t great for kids, or for us. When children spend excessive amounts of time playing video games and watching movies, they lose the chance to explore other interests and engage life and learning with all their senses.
It may feel impossible at first, but there really are a plethora of fun screen-free things to do with your kids. Simple, silly cards games such as Uno or Old Maid are easy and require interaction. Try other board games. The possibilities are endless.
Laugh Like Crazy
Laughing isn’t just for fun—it’s also for health. Laughter boosts important natural endorphins in our bodies. These endorphins improve our mood and help us connect with others. Few things sound as beautiful as children giggling and laughing.
Don’t be afraid to get silly. Plan a costume night. Find some joke books. Look for funny kids’ movies. Have wrestling matches, play hide and seek, or plan a Nerf battle. Do silly, harmless practical jokes even when it’s not April Fools. Your kids will love it, and so will you.
After a year-plus of being isolated and largely indoors, it’s time to get outside. If you have a yard, throw a blanket down and have a picnic. Play catch. Go for walks and family bike rides.
If you have access to trails at state parks or national forests, tackle some that all of you can manage. Look for outdoor concerts or performances you can attend together. Find a place free of light pollution and count the stars. Bird watch or hunt for insects; plant a few flowers or a tomato on your porch.
Be Willing to Pretend
As adults, we can get stuck in our grownup worlds. Pausing to engage in make-believe play can feel like a hassle. After all, we have work to do! But the work of parenting requires that we engage our kids on their levels.
If you’re invited to a teddy bear tea party or asked to pitch a tent in the living room, kindly accept. It will mean the world to your kids, and it will give you the perfect opportunity to connect with them.
Sadly, many kids express frustration and disappointment over the amount of time their parents spend scrolling through their phones or tablets. When your kids try to get your attention, don’t keep blowing them off with responses of, “Just a minute, I need to respond to this post.” They’ll feel like they’re not a priority to you and like you don’t want to listen to them.
Instead, put your device down, or whatever else may be getting in the way. Look your kids in the eyes and give them your undivided attention. They want to know they can trust you to hear them when they have something to share. Letting them know that they can is a sure way to build a connection.
Make your kids a priority this summer and strengthen your relationship with each other. Try some of the ideas here and see where it takes you!