During stressful, busy, or overwhelming seasons we can tend to disconnect from our kids unintentionally. Survival mode is a real thing! Here are 5 simple ways to get your kid’s heart back when you feel the distance.
We were sitting on the couch the other day. Myself, my 5-year-old daughter, and my 1-year-old son.
He did something a bit silly and I kissed his head. Then, all of a sudden, my daughter started crying. Sort of a whimper. Surprised, I looked at her sweet face and said, “Honey, what’s wrong?”
“When you kissed him I felt sad. I don’t feel good about you right now, mom.”
Talk about a blow to a mama’s heart. She didn’t need to elaborate. I already knew. We had a one week old baby in the house and, before that, weeks and weeks of Miserable Pregnant Mama. Daddy had been on duty more than normal. So had Nana, our mother’s helper, and aunts and uncles. Mama wasn’t MIA, but it wasn’t far off.
She felt disconnected.
She felt left out.
She wanted to be mama’s girl again.
And the truth was… I was ready for that too. Not only with my daughter, but with all my kids. Even one week postpartum I felt closer to my normal self and was ready to get back to normal. I was ready to win back my children’s hearts.
Simple Ways to Win Back Your Child’s Heart
Moms cannot do it all.
We all like to explore how to become the best mom or dad. However, there will be times and seasons where we aren’t able to be as connected or focused on our children as we’d like. When being a “present parent” is a lot harder than normal. Even though we prioritize our kids above nearly all else. That’s okay. That’s life.
However, when we’ve made the shift and desire to reconnect with our kids – and assure them we are fully present – it’s not as hard as you think. Children are born desiring connection with their parents, so the good news is… even if you feel disconnected, you can get back on track.
Do Something Spontaneous
This is my go to when I want to be Fun Mom again. It doesn’t have to be grand, just unexpected. Friday night I was really feeling the distance between myself and the kids. During bedtime it occurred to me… we should have Saturday morning breakfast with ice cream! So we woke up, got dressed, and went to town (yes, we have to go to town because we don’t live in town) for ice cream.
Doing something unexpected or silly might be as simple as:
- a dance party
- taking a walk in a new place
- getting dessert as a family
- doing a craft or activity together
- going for a Sunday drive and getting out to explore along the way
Stop, Watch, and Really Listen
My daughter starts Kindergarten in two and a half weeks. I die. We were sitting on the couch talking and lounging, and I started staring at her face. Really staring. Watching how she talked, her expressions, and what she was saying. It occurred to me it’d been some since I’d truly paid close attention to her. After just a few moments my heart swelled with joy and we had a great talk.
For the rest of the day, I purposely did that with each child. We know spending one on one time with kids is important, but even just turning a one minute diaper change into a 3 minute bonding session can start to reforge (or strengthen) your connection. Listening to what our kids say, praising them (especially if we’ve stopped that for whatever reason), and responding in the moment makes a huge difference in connection.
Spend 1-on-1 Time For Current Interests
My daughter is starting Kindergarten soon. Because this means she’ll be gone during the day, we are spending a lot of time focusing on that. This means we’ve shopped together. Picked out her clothes, uniforms, and shoes together. We’ve been practicing using ABCmouse (click here to get your first month free) so she learns mouse skills and can take basic assessments on the computer. We’ve been scrolling Pinterest looking for cute girl hairstyles. We are bonding over her upcoming life change.
4-year-old – He loves dinosaurs and airplanes. I’ve been reading a lot of dinosaur books with him specifically because his eyes light up. Today we have a date to watch some dinosaur videos online. A big deal for us because my kids never get online.
3-year-old – He loves dirt and trucks. I can try to do any number of things with him, but he runs away quickly laughing like a maniac. However, if I join him in his truck games or sit near him while he plays in the dirt we can spend a lot more time together since I’m joining him where he is. This son truly knows the difference between playing and being entertained.
1-year-old – My third son is just getting into books. He will sit back on the couch and snuggle up. His attention span is short, but board books and pop-up books will keep his attention for quite a while as long as there are minimal distractions. We’re working to increase his reading stamina as we speak.
Connecting is easier when we join our kids in their own interests instead of trying to bring them into our own.
Make the Bedtime Routine Longer
Hands down, this is the easiest way to carve our more time during the day with the kids. When you’re busy doing your wind down routine at bedtime, add another 5 or 10 minutes. This may be reading just one more chapter. Talking about one more thing. Snugging just a while longer.
At bedtime they’re a captive audience and, clearly, they don’t want you to leave anyway! Take advantage of their delaying and stalling tactics and focus on being a present parent in the time you do have.
Press Pause on As Much As Possible
Some seasons of life are busier than others. Occasionally, our life is so full we’re pulled away from the things we prioritize most. This may happen during an illness, pregnancy, or when one parent has big work-related projects. During these times I’ve found it’s important to pull away from as much else as possible.
This may mean pulling back from weekly groups, removing yourself from committees, and scaling back socially so you won’t be pulled in tons of directions. Kids need stability and regularity at home. Studies show kids who are always being schlepped in the car to and fro with little downtime have increased risk of becoming depressed and anxious. Even little kids!
If life has been hectic and you need to reconnect…
Focus on the small things.
Pull back from the things that are keeping you from your kids.
Pay close attention and meet them where they’re at.
Thank you to Famous Footwear for partnering for this post and feeding my Mother Daughter Matching Obsession. In the next few weeks, as my daughter starts school and our routine changes, I’m going to feel cute kicking around in these Chucks. I’ve been busy preparing, planning, and getting us ready for the back to school mania.