As most of us are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with everyday obligations, working long hours and devoting enough time to our families, kids are, unfortunately, those who often suffer the most. Sometimes we simply forget that they grow up quickly and that we’ll never have a second chance to be the best parents we possibly can or we simply don’ have the time and energy to invest in creating stronger relationships with our kids.
Still, even if that’s the case with you, you shouldn’t despair or consider yourself a bad parent. Instead, you can focus on introducing some changes to your behaviour and create some rituals that would mean a lot to your kids and that would make you feel so much better. So, let’s take a look at some activities which are not very time-consuming, but which can have great benefits to both you and your kids.
Try to introduce a routine of having a short walk with your kids after dinner. If you have more than one kid, you could organise individual walks around the neighbourhood. Every Monday, my five-year-old girl and I walk to a nearby park and spend some time sitting on a bench, looking at the ducks swimming in the lake. She tells me about what’s happening at her school and I tell her about my day.
Another thing we like to do as a family is go for a bike ride. The time we spend together is equally important as the health benefits of riding a bike. I really feel satisfied and fulfilled when I look at my kids on their bikes, wearing their helmets and other safety accessories. We rarely go on long rides, because the younger one is still not strong enough, but no matter how long the ride is, we all feel great afterwards.
Helping around the kitchen
Cooking is a regular activity for most of us with children and I often ask my kids to help me with it. Not that I wouldn’t be able to do it without them, but since I have to spend some time in the kitchen, I like to use the opportunity to involve them as well. Though tiring, cooking is a creative activity and most kids react positively to a chance to be creative. Sometimes I ask them to stir or pour something, or simply help by bringing and taking away the ingredients. When we’re done, we enjoy the fruits of a joint effort and they really appreciate it. Also, they tend to be less picky when it comes to eating the food they’ve prepared.
Taking dogs for a walk
Another regular activity that could be done with kids is taking your dog for a walk. Not only do we spend more time together, but they also feel very proud and “grown-up” when I let them hold the leash for a minute or two. They also learn to look after someone, which is an excellent preparation for their future lives.
I love a good cup of black tea with a few drops of milk every afternoon. Some time ago I started preparing some fruit tea infusions for my kids and invited them to join me if they feel like it. Much more often than not, they are happy to sit with me outside our home and sip their tea and talk about whatever they want. We usually make some plans for future activities and by the time we’re finished with our drinks, we’re ready to resume with our daily routine.
Card and board games
Like most kids, mine enjoy playing card and board games. I asked them to teach me their favourite ones and they were only too happy to oblige. Every Friday afternoon we sit at our dinner table and play a game or two and have some great time, usually while the dinner is being cooked in the kitchen. It’s all about time management, after all.
The advantages of reading to kids are well-known, but I can confirm that it’ great for adults, too. It’s really comforting and soothing and a great way to unwind after a busy day. Naturally, it’s hard to find a book that is equally interesting for all of us, but we usually manage to reach a compromise, although I feel that I’ve learned some stories by heart already. Still, it feels good and I recommend it.
Letting kids stay up late sometimes
This is something that I started practicing with my daughter a few years ago. I let her stay up past her usual bedtime and do whatever she felt like doing. Sometimes she would play alone, but very often she would join me in watching TV or we would simply have a chat. She really appreciated it which is why I’ve just started the same routine with my son. The trick with two kids is not to let them stay up late on the same day in order to make them feel special.
Creating a shopping list and shopping
Some chores are more fun when done together. As soon as my kids learned to write, I started dictating them our shopping list. It would take them some time to complete the task, but they felt involved and important. We would then go to a local supermarket and they would be in charge of checking if we’ve got everything we needed. This is also a great activity you can do as a family, plus your kids practice reading and writing.
No matter how small garden your garden is, you can always do with a little help from your kids. Filling the buckets, watering the plants or simply holding the hose are all activities that most kids like and make them feel like they’re contributing.
As you can see, most of these routines are not so time-consuming, but they all mean the world to your kids. The secret is to allocate that time and involve your kids in whatever they want to be part of. The result will be rewarding both for them and yourself.