5 practical suggestions how to stay connected with your children
It is going to be another beautiful day today. It is at the end of winter in Sydney and the warmer weather is just around the corner….My daughter’s HSC trials are in their 2nd week.
While dropping her off to the exam hall, I was thinking back when my two children were much younger, what we did together, and what we shared together. We liked cooking, bush walking, visiting the libraries, writing up shopping lists and we went shopping together. When we baked cookies and cakes they enjoyed licking the spoons – I can still see their faces. Occasionally we talk about those good ‘old times’ and we still share a good laugh remembering the fun times.
Time really flies….with a blink of your eyes, your kids grow up right in front of your eyes, and you wonder what’s happened over the past few years…….
I shared lots of quality time with my grandmother when I young; we even took the bus to the local market and we knew most of the stall holders. After many years away from home, I went back to my hometown and visited the market. I shopped and ate at the same stalls; most of the original owners were still there, even though they were older. But they still cooked the same food, sold the same stuff and were still as friendly as before. Even though my grandmother was not there to join me, my memory and connection to the place and the people were as clear as if it was yesterday.
So, I have a question for you today……how connected are you with your children?
Is it a way that you would be able to look back and smile about it?
Would you like to be able to connect with your children and to enjoy each other’s company?
Would you love to be able to just “chat” with your children anytime and spend quality time with them?
Imagine waking up in the morning and they greet you with smiles on their faces; they give you a kiss, and you sit down and have breakfast together?
Imagine having dinner together and having the most enjoyable conversation?
Imagine you are the person your children go to if they have any issues in their lives?
Nowadays with Facebook being one of the main connections in your children’s lives, we tend to see less and less of ‘communication’ in the household. Parents seem busy with their work and chores around the house and the children are busy connecting with other friends through Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps we hardly see them in the house, nor in the garden playing with their siblings or friends or connecting with friends in the neighbourhood….so what’s happening to our basic family communication?
Do you notice that when you ask your child “How’s your day?”, the normal response would be “Hmmmmm, it’s OK” and the child shrugs their shoulders and heads off back to the computer. Does that sound familiar?
The question is “HOW connected are you with your children?”
If you have a vision of a connected family, a family that is happy to be around each other and a family that shows respect for each other, well now is the time to get connected!
Why is it so important? Now you can make up your mind to re-connect with your children; today is a great time to start. This message is for parents who would like to have a good connection with their children: start when they are still very young.
There are so many ways to connect with your children, but I am going to share with you 5 practical suggestions that anyone can implement. These steps lead to results very quickly.
- Family Meal Time
Make at least one meal time a family time. Sharing a good meal together opens up communication. Let the communication flow, and try to avoid being judgmental (there is a time and day for this). Perhaps share your experiences of the day with each other.
We always hear food preparation comes from love……and a good family meal time means love and family connections. I know that every time when I taste a dish that my grandmother used to cook there is a big smile on my face.
(2) Make a date with your children
This is an exciting time for the children, be it young or older children. Parents are busy making a living, and busy with sport commitments on Saturdays. When my children were younger, my husband was very busy with his work and there was not enough time to properly enjoy the children’s company.
He therefore set up a date with the children on one of the Sundays during each holiday, just him and the children. The date is like a SURPRISE trip to somewhere not known to the children. They were not told where they were going, all they were told was to pack warmer clothing if necessary, and he would drop hints and tips now and then….and they would be travelling on public transport only. The children would know if it was a whole day or half day mystery trip……butI can tell you the momentum of excitement would be building 5-6 days before that Mystery Trip day.
The trip was on public transport that they had never been on before; for example, the ferry to several suburbs along the coast, and to sample the local food., They even took the ferry up the Parramatta River, visited the suburb and chose a restaurant of their choice, and at the end of the day they took the train back home……
Even today, they still have photos of each trip and the food they ate …..
Whenever you have the chance, open up communication with your children. Ask them about their day, ask them about their experiences, be it happy or sad. Just allow the conversation to flow and listen, and do vice versa. Tell them about your day as well, how your felt…..build up the trust with your children. When your children start opening up to you, please try not to over judge them or talk down to them; instead respect their decision, and offer your opinion (as a parent and friend) if you need to and explain your reason for the different opinion. If you start yelling, or talking down to them and disrespect their opinion, the conversation then is always one way.
(4) Make time with your children and be there for them
No matter how busy you are, you will always find time for something that is important for you. By making time for your children, this is telling your children you treasure and value them and they are very important in your life. Enjoying their company indicates to them how important they are to you and they will appreciate that you have prioritised this in your hectic schedule. Examples can be taking them to their sports activities and actively watching, one on one meal times together, or if you have the chance, drop them to school before heading to work as those few minutes in the car is worth so much more than you can even imagine. I normally find the best conversations always happen in the car. I will make time and effort to pick my children up from their after school activities, not that I am trying to be over protective, but I always get the best conversations with them in the car.
(5) Work on goals together
Help your children to set goals and guide them on how to achieve their goals. If your child comes to you with a project, no matter how small, try to help them to plan and to finish the project. Learning to set goals and achieving the goals together is a great connection ‘formula’ for both parent and child.
For example, my son started playing basketball with our local association and my husband was to be their team coach. Their first project was to recruit several players to form the team. So that was their goal; they formed the team, named the team, and decided on the colour of the uniform etc…. This team ended up playing together for the next 7 years and won quite a few matches and tournaments. The team members are still good friends today and a few have even gone on to play representative basketball.
Take time to connect with your children – it’s a beautiful investment.