10 Ways to EnGage with your kids...Every day!

Let’s face it: daily schedules get busy. Life gets hectic. When you throw kids into the mix, life gets even crazier!

So, what do you do when your children need your attention, but you have other things calling for your attention as well? I’m guilty of the, “Give me a minute!” “Hold on a second!” Personally, I am guilty of using those responses, so much so that I noticed my kids using these phrases just as much as me. That made me sad, and it prompted me to start engaging with my kids even more.

Time with our children is limited. Parents need to engage with them, even if it’s only for a few minutes in between our other daily tasks. We need to take advantage of our time with them while we can—every single day.

How can you, as a parent, engage with your kids every day, especially with limited time in your schedule? Here is a list of 10 ideas:

1. READ A SHORT BOOK EVERY MORNING: Every kid has a favorite book or two that they love to read. When my kid picks out that one longer book, and hands it to me, I know we are going to be there for a while! I have had to figure out how to cut corners and shorten the story to get to the end faster! (You know you’ve done that, too). So, for this tip to work, you will need to create a stack of books. This stack should consist of books you can read in under 5 minutes. The books should also be located in a place that is easily accessible for your child. Have your kid pick out a book the night before, put it in a special place, and when you get up in the morning, sit and read this short book with them. This is a great way for both of you to start your day! Plus, having your child choose a book the night before anticipation, showing them that you plan to make a special time in the day just for them. It demonstrates that they are a priority to you.

2. TALK OVER BREAKFAST: Make the time to eat breakfast together. Even if they are eating unicorn cereal and you’re having an apple, talk to each other. Listen. Ask them how they slept. Ask if they had any fun dreams. Ask what they are looking forward to in the day. Share with them about what you have to do. Explain your work or tasks during the day. This special time together can open a door for connection and communication at the beginning of the day.

3. SHARE A DRINK TOGETHER: Okay, don’t get crazy…not that kind of drink! Take 10 minutes to pour yourself a coffee or tea. Make something fun or out of the norm for the kids. You can make them a decaf tea with honey and lemon or mix up some chocolate milk. And, if you serve the drink with cookies, that’s always a bonus. Sit down and talk about the taste of your drink, talk about the texture and color of their beverage. Make comparisons, share stories, and enjoy the break in the day. (And again, I highly recommend cookies.)

4. CELEBRATE RANDOM DAYS: Did you know there is actually a National Donut Day? What about National Kazoo Day, or the National Day for Hugs? Take a moment to access the National Day Calendar (nationaldaycalendar.com) and plan ahead to do something with your kids surrounding various themes. You can celebrate National Laughter Day that night by reading a book of knock-knock jokes or watching a funny movie. Consider having them pick out what they want to celebrate by searching the calendar together. This is a fun way to interact and do something silly, creative, or educational together.

5. FIND TIME TO DANCE: Dancing connects us. Take a break from your busy day, play fun music and start a dance party. Find a fun song from your childhood or have your kid be the DJ. Dance in the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom…wherever! (And for those of you sentimental dads like me with daughters: remember dancing with your little girl is just getting you ready for the Father/Daughter dance at her wedding!)

6. SMILE: You’re probably thinking, “Hey, this doesn’t have anything to do with hanging out with my kid? What does smiling have to do with connecting with my children?” A smile will engage with your kids. You will see them smile back. They will sense your joy and they will carry it. And remember: a smile doesn’t take much time, but it says a lot to your children. Smile at them. It could completely shift their day.

7. 5 MINUTE SKETCH: Five minutes. That’s all it takes! Grab some paper and sketch a picture. (You could even write a letter or a poem to go along with it.) Be creative. Then, give it to your child when you return home or are finished with your busy schedule. You, as a parent, can make something that shows your kids you’re still thinking of them, even when you’re busy! Tell them why you drew it. This could actually also encourage their own creativity to make something special for you, too.

8. GET ACTIVE: Take a walk. Ride a bike. Do some fun exercises in the home. Getting physical is important for you to be healthy, but helps your kids stay healthy as well. So, why not do it together? Take some time to be physical. It doesn’t have to be extreme. Jumping jacks, jumping rope, hopscotch, pushups, or even remember tip #5: dancing. Find something you can do together with your kids that will allow you to get exercise while having fun with them.

9. SHARE WEEKEND PROJECTS: Especially when the weather is nice I try to get all my projects completed. I like painting, staining, or doing yard work. However, I often struggle, thinking about the amount of lost family time. The best way to handle this feeling is to get your family involved in the work. For example, my son loved helping me split wood. He was so proud, he actually struck a pose with a foot mounted on one of the logs he split. My daughter, who has to be kept on task, was willing to gather leaves and help pull weeds. No matter what you are doing around the house or in the yard, get your kids involved in some way. They will feel valued, trusted, empowered, and connected.

10. ENLIVEN THE WAKE-UP ROUTINE: Just like having a bedtime routine, your wake-up routine could be just as fun for your kids. Have a fun wake-up routine and have a good time with it. Purchase a new alarm clock that lights up when it is time for them to get out of bed. Or, on special occasions like birthdays or the start of Christmas break, I help them plan fun things for the morning. This could be everything from having a dance party in the kitchen to cooking a special breakfast. Mornings can be special, not something the kids dread. Help them start their day off right and use this time to connect.

I hope you found some value to this list and implement some, if not all of these ideas. Let me know if you do and how they have changed your time with your kids. Don’t be afraid to be a kid with your kid!

Thanks for engaging with your kids! The future is brighter because of it!

Bobby Benavides

Founder of Being A Dad…On Purpose