Do you ever feel like parenting is a constant battle of wills? Uh, yeah….me neither.
I don’t have all of the parenting answers. But what I do know is that most kids adore time spent with mom or dad, and I, for one, don’t make the conscious effort to spend time with my kids as often as I’d like to admit. I’m willing to bet that every parent reading this feels the same from time to time.
So here’s a list of ways to make your child’s day, or that I know would make my kids’ day at least! All of these activities are low prep, can be whipped into in an instant, and don’t take any longer than 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how much time you have.
1. Read a book (or books). Reading to children is soooooo helpful for early literacy skills. There’s a ton of research out there – Google it if you need to. Both of my kids love to snuggle up and have me read to them. The youngest likes to pick a handful of books that usually revolve around trucks and diggers. My girl likes me to read chapter books like Charlotte’s Web. I’m honestly surprised by how much she comprehends chapter books at her age. She loves books and one-on-one reading time with Mom is something she could never have enough of.
2. Bake something. Baking cookies could take an hour or more, especially if you don’t have all the ingredients on hand or you believe in doing the dishes immediately after a mess is made. There are quick baking options though! And it doesn’t have to mean using an easy bake oven. My favorite nap time secret is a recipe I found for a brownie in a mug. Yummmm! You can make one of these in literally 5 minutes from start to finish, even with a little helper. It’s a decent size, too, perfect to share!
3. Play a board game. Even three year olds can play Candy Land or Uno. Board games help kids learn how to follow directions and take turns, but they don’t realize it because they’re having fun! Letting your kids pick the game can be an added bonus for them. Board games are something I don’t want to get into when I’m pressed for time, but when I make the effort my kids absolutely love it.
4. Have a movie night. Like, a real movie night. Put the phone away, make some popcorn, rent a DVD from Redbox. Get some blankets and snuggle. I admit that we keep the TV running a lot in the evenings around here. But usually I’m doing my own work or relaxing in my own way, not snuggling and laughing along with my kids. Even if you don’t have time for the whole movie, a quick snuggle session can go a long way.
5. Go to the playground. Maybe this is something you do often, but since we have a yard to play in, the playground is a special treat for my kids. Again, it’s something my kids enjoy so much but something I rarely take the time to do. A quick trip to the playground makes my kids’ day every time.
6. Go on a dinner date. My little guy and I got a rare Mommy and me run to Walmart today, after which he talked me into a lunch date. His birthday is coming up and especially because he’s the baby, I have really been taking in all of his little boy mannerisms he’s growing into and cherishing every moment I get alone with him. An hour of my undivided attention and saying “Yes” instead of “No” totally made his day!
7. Buy (or make) them a gift. One of the 5 Love Languages is gifts. I don’t bribe my kids with toys to be good at the store, but occasionally I get them something small just to see their eyes light up. Often, it doesn’t even matter what it is. It could be as simple as making a pan of brownies from a box, just because you know they’d enjoy them. Just getting a small gift from a parent tells your kid that you’re thinking of them and expresses love.
8. Write them a note. For kids that can’t read, you could draw a picture and read any text to them. Who doesn’t like receiving praise or words of affection? I know when a stranger compliments my kids’ behavior or my husband sends me a sweet text message that it totally makes my day. It only takes a minute to pen a note, but that just might mean the world to your kid.
9. Go for a walk. There’s a lot of great things about walking. Fresh air and exercise, sure, but it’s also difficult to get lost with housework or zone out in front of the TV while you’re walking with your kids. It’s a great free thing to do that forces you to focus primarily on your kid and an opportune time to have some unforgettable conversations.
10. Share your interests or tasks with them. Sometimes, we just don’t have an hour to set aside to do nothing except play with our kids. Life is busy! I am the kind of person that likes to work alone. As in, GET OUT OF MY WAY AND LET ME HANDLE IT. But when I do let my kids help me with whatever I have going on, it’s not a chore for them. They actually enjoy it!
My daughter loves to help me dust, sweep, clean the bathroom, fold the laundry, cook dinner, or get her brother ready for the day. But if I ask her to go vacuum her own room or take a shower? No way. If it means spending time with Mom, though, it’s worth it to her. Even better if it’s something I enjoy, as well! If you have hobbies like playing the piano, sewing, sports, etc., open up and share them with your kids, at least now and then! Getting glimpses into your world is a fantastic way to make memories.
Consciously making an effort is all it has to take to make an impression on your kids. Nobody is perfect! Your kids know you love them when they see you going out of your way to spend time with them. Kids are usually too young to understand all of our responsibilities and the ways that we show them love through caring for them – that’s all they know and they expect it. But now and then doing something special can make a huge difference in their attitudes and confidence.
What other ideas do you have for how to make your child’s day? Comment below!
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