Tell me I am not alone, that I am not the only mother who has struggled connecting with my kids. There are some moments when I don’t want to be hugged, when I don’t want to color another picture. Moments when the laundry pile seems so big it is screaming at me much louder than the child playing with cars nearby. Moments when I have turned on the TV to get some peace and quiet. We have all been there, right?
… For me, little by little, those moments snowballed until I realized one morning that I wasn’t hugging my kids as much, that pictures weren’t getting colored. The real cost to all those lost moments was the lack of laughter and smiles from my kids. I had replaced interaction with dishes, instead of soapy bubbles with my kids, and the kids had replaced crafts with me with games on minecraft. We didn’t mean to grow apart, it just happened. Call it independence, call it neglect, it happened. The sad part was the kids didn’t even seem to notice or care.
Until Ten minutes changed my life.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Fake it till you make it??” It works! The kids and I made a list of some of our favorite things (or I did, with minimual kiddo input – the kids favorite thing to do had become “watch YouTube” and “play computer games”). Every afternoon I started out *making* myself and my kids do one of these activities together, for just ten minutes. It’s just long enough for the kids – who at this point preferred computer games to their mother – to not completely loose interest, and it was short enough that I could tell myself my to-do list could wait “just ten minutes”. It saved our family.
Set the timer.
Pick an activity.
Timer goes ding, go back to whatever independent tasks you were doing before.
- Go for a walk around the block.
- Chase each other around the house.
- Have a sock “snowball” fight.
- Family dance-off to a couple favorite songs.
- Color a giant picture together – only color for ten minutes then pull it out and color more the next day!
- Whip up a batch of cookie dough together.
- Paint your nails.
- Smile War. See who can make the goofiest faces.
- Take wacky selfies (and print one out when your done).
- Savor a spoonful of nutella.
- Have a jumping jack or planking battle – see who can go longer.
- Play a quick board game.
- Transform your steps into a slide.
- Bake the world’s biggest cookie – You might need to eat it after the ten minutes are over.
- Have a pillow fight.
- Dress up as ghosts in sheets and walk around trying to grab each other.
- Break out the play dough – even if your kids are 14!
- Wash the car together.
- Make giant paper airplanes.
- Dance and mop the floor with wet socks.
- Have a staring contest.
- Create disguises with pipe cleaners.
- Whip up Oobleck and pour it through a strainer.
- Jump Rope Together (make a jump rope out of plastic bags for next time’s “timer” if you don’t have one).
- Play tic-tac-toe – with oreos or pieces of fruit as the Xs and Os.
- Read a story together – even if they are too old to be read to.
- Give yourselves fake “henna hands” – with gel pens.
How to have a Happier Family
Here is a printable – in case you are like me and want a list to cross them off.
Maybe your family will be like mine, maybe they will begin looking forward to the timer’s start, and ask for just another ten minutes when the timer goes “ding”. Maybe you will bring the spark back to your family too!