Not all mamas have time for endless afternoons at the pool or playing in the sandbox. But mamas who work can still connect with our kids in a meaningful way.
The key is for mamas to be present for children and give your full attention, not getting distracted by the to-do list or Blackberry. Check out these ideas for mamas to bond with kids in 5 minutes a day.
Cuddle and Hug
Touch is one of mama's most powerful weapons. From the first time you held your baby, the feel of your hands has soothed your child.
Whether he's a toddler going through a bout of separation anxiety or a teen girl crushed by the school bully's harsh words, a simple hug goes a long way. A few extra minutes with your arm around her on the sofa won't throw off your schedule by much -- and it means the world to your child.
Tickling gives mamas a great excuse to touch children. Now, see if you can get them to laugh with your words and not your fingers.
Whether you're all in a funk or someone's on the verge of a tantrum, a good giggle can break the ice and change the mood. Depending on your family and your child's age, that can mean a well-worn knock-knock joke, simply clowning around or sharing a side-splitting article on the Onion.
Homemade Dance Party
One of my favorite bonding activities is putting on some classic R&B or '80s music and letting our hair down. Even our two-year old gets into the action, hopping up and down and shrieking with laughter.
Your taste in music may vary, but as long as you choose tunes that someone loves, the energy will be infectious.
Read a Book Together
Reading is a classic activity for mamas with good reason. You're close to your child, touching and sharing in a good story.
You can read a book out loud every night, but you can also find ways to weave it into other times of the day. Tuck a favorite book into your purse to read in the doctor's office or waiting in line during errands. As your children get older, you may enjoy reading different books side by side, but even some tweens like their mamas to read out loud to them. (As long as no friends are nearby.)
Listen at Bedtime
One of the best times for bonding is in the minutes after the lights go out at night. Sit on your child's bed and rub her back. You may find worries and stories of the day pouring out once the room grows dark.
Make sure you listen as much as you talk, if not more. Let silence fall to give your child the opportunity to bring up something he wants to share with you. Don't let the press of staying on schedule deprive you of the opportunity for quiet time together.
Create a Ritual
My sister-in-law still speaks fondly about long conversations with her mama as they cleaned the kitchen together after dinner every night. Her mama listened to the day's exploits and even asked her to read essays out loud. That focused attention makes any child feel special.
Look for opportunities to create a ritual with your child in your daily or weekly routine for just the two of you. It can be something as simple as walking to the mailbox together after work or going for bagels on Saturday morning. If you have more than one child, do something different with each kid.
Some other activities to consider incorporating into rituals include:
- Grocery shopping
- Doing the laundry
- Tossing or kicking a ball around
- Community service
- Cleaning the car
- An after-dinner walk
- Cooking or baking together
- Visiting an elderly relative
- Inexpensive dinner out (look for kids eat free specials)