We get it, parenting is not for sissies. Most of the time parents are stuck inside their latest to-do list and are just happy to get by without any injuries. The problem is you often end the week feeling depleted not just physically, but emotionally too. Not only because you’re totally exhausted but also because you haven’t managed to really connect with our kids on a deeper level. So here are three easy rituals that you can add to the week to feel more connected, come Sunday.
Play a game together, online
While actual old-school board games are fun, they may be impractical and time-consuming to do together on a weekly basis. So rather consider lifting the weekly screen time embargo and once a week offer your child a 20-minute opportunity to play something online, as long as it’s with you! Screen time isn’t all bad especially when it’s used as a way to connect. Choose a puzzle game where you have to solve something together or encourage some healthy competition with a game of Candy Crush. For older kids, try doing Wordle together. There is something pretty cool about joining their world online and making a moment out of it. Pick a time when 20 minutes is convenient, like after swimming lessons while they’re drying off, or in the car when arriving early at an extra mural.
Ask 3 questions on the way home
It’s often hard for preschoolers to list what they did at school that day so try some simple prompts like, “Tell me one exciting thing that happened at school today”, “Tell me one worrying thing that happened at school today.” Or “Tell me one delicious thing that happened at school today.” You’ll be amazed at how you can open up a conversation by locating the question in a feeling or bodily sensation, to help your child connect with themselves and then take you up on your offer to share it. This works for older kids too and here you can introduce more complex questions like “What was today’s biggest challenge and how did you solve it?” This little ritual also shows your child that you are curious about how they experienced their day and will invite them to seek you out next time there is something worth sharing.
Make physical contact
There are a million ways to do this. If your child is small, invite them to watch TV on your lap. Go for a walk with your dogs, even if it’s just around your block or complex. Cuddle close when doing bedtime or start the morning with a deep hug. It’s important to make physical loving contact at least once a day to check in and calm nerves.
Why these 3 rituals?
Each of these rituals offers a different kind of deep contact. The first – playing an online game together – offers intellectual contact. By joining your child in a game you are finding a fun middle ground when you can both enjoy a bit of intellectual stimulation. The meeting of your two minds in solving a puzzle or playing a game will bring you together. The second ritual – asking three questions when you see them after school – encourages emotional contact by asking your child emotion-led questions. This promotes connection through the importance of expressing feelings. The final ritual – making physical contact – is based in the body and offers a way to connect as two bodies in a room. This provides sensorial stimulation, even if it’s subtle. It reminds you and your child that you are safe and close, even when you’re not speaking.
The bottom line
The weeks really fly by, and often besides practical concrete accomplishments, we can be left feeling empty and disconnected from our families. So try adding these three rituals to your weekly engagement with your kids and I think you’ll find that they are easy to do and instinctual. They offer ways to connect via the body, mind and emotions and will cover all the important bases. Giving both parent and child a chance to connect and find themselves satisfied in the midst of a crazy week.