The start of a school year is a lot like the start of a new year. It is a great time to step back, take stock in your situation, and gather some fresh perspective on your life. I think the drawing factor for most moms is that you finally return to some normalcy and structure in your routine. Being a schedule and structure person myself, this time of year feeds my soul.
Starting this “new year” I have challenged myself to give a little more space in my day, allow for more margin in my life, and focus on having more fun. I recently read an article about 50 ways to be a fun mom. While cringing and wondering if that is really the point, I started to wonder what my objective is. My goal is not necessarily to “be a fun mom” as it is to have an honest and approachable relationship with my son. That kind of relationship is only built by spending time together and building trust.
Having always been a mom so focused on the schedule, I realize that opportunities to just enjoy life and my son’s childhood have gotten lost in accomplishing the next milestone and goal. While modeling achievement of goals is so important in raising kids to be adults, it does not necessarily build the bridge of relationship. So, I have made a list of simple but impactful ideas to help you slow down and connect with your kids of any age.
- Call a pajama day. Over the holiday weekend, we called an all family pajama day. Everyone cleared their calendar of activities and we just hung out for the day. We made big breakfast, drank the whole pot of coffee, and watched movies, ate popcorn, and generally did NOTHING.
- Go for a walk. Whether it is around the block or several miles on a trail, you will be amazed at the conversations you will have with your kids at any age on a walk. When my son was young, he would tell me about all the kiddos at school (probably more than their parents wanted the outside world to know), and now that he is older, we talk more about future dreams, ideas, and current passions.
- Binge watch a series. For all my love/hate relationship with Netflix, the ability to pick a series you can watch as a family around your own schedule is one of the best advantages to modern media consumption.
- Build a fort in your living room. Taking all the cushions off the chairs, covering with blankets, stringing Christmas lights, and bringing in your pile of best stuffed animals makes for a great afternoon.
- Play dress up and become your favorite character. Who can resist being a princess or knight in shining armor? And everyone likes to play cowboys and cowgirls.
- Make sock puppets and have a puppet show over the back of the couch. The best stories told are the ones your kids make up themselves.
- Have a game night. Since there are only three of us and one member of my family is not a game lover, we have gotten a little more creative with our game nights. They tend to include more card games than board games, Lego building contests, sock mountain Jenga, and games based on few rules like Connect Four, Operation, and Concentration.
- Date your kids. Going for some fro-yo, enjoying dinner out, or attending a concert or event is a great way to spend some intentional moments with your kids. Those moments are the ones that kids will remember and help define who they are as they grow older.
- Make a movie. Preteens love to make videos to share with friends, but often need a camera man. A few years ago, we made several videos of a blowup dinosaur riding a scooter, playing basketball, riding a bike and generally just being silly. He loved them, and I still get a kick out of them when they pop up on my memory page.
- Read or listen to a book series together. I am a reader, but the rest of my family is not. But we have found that when we read or listen to a book series together, we enjoy engaging with the characters and guessing what their next adventure will be. Have you ever asked your child to tell you what Captain Hook looks like?
- Tackle a small project together. Clean out the garage or organize a closet or put a photo album together. Do anything that creates a sense of accomplishment when it’s finished.
- Coloring and Extreme Dot to Dot. The advent of the adult coloring book has been great. I can chill for a good hour just coloring in the fine details of the picture or better yet extreme dot to dot has taken us to a new level. Much like watching a movie, reading a book, coloring allows you to enjoy time together just relaxing which opens the door for conversation.
- Download an app and play together. We downloaded Flow Free months ago while waiting in line for something. Now 264 days later we are locked in a struggle who can play the game the most consecutive days.
Each family has their own rhythm and interests, but finding those minutes to slow down and settle into just enjoying being together are worth the investment of time and creativity. I have to coach myself to believe that doing nothing is not a waste of time. Sometimes, that is exactly what I need and what my son needs.
Christine Clark is the Ministry Coordinator for Family Ministry at Stonebriar Community Church. She has a passion for supporting parents and helping them gain confidence and tools to be spiritual leaders in their homes. She is blessed to be the mom of a high school freshman and the wife of her college sweetheart for more than 20 years. She is also an avid sports fan who loves all things football, especially in the fall in Texas.