While summertime can often mean more family time, there are lots of responsibilities on parents’ plates that don’t slow down even if school does. Whether you’re planning a summer filled with beach vacations, fun family activities or looking at busy work schedules, all parents can benefit from looking for small and meaningful ways to spend time with their kids every day. I often tell parents that family vacations are wonderful, but they can never replace connecting with your kids on a regular basis. Here are some practical and fun ways to enjoy time with your child:
- Run errands together. Ask your child if they’d like to come along for the ride when your picking up groceries or filling up the gas tank. Even if it’s a short trip, that alone time in the car can be fun and meaningful to them. Turn up their favorite music in the car and ask them what the best part of their day has been. Come up with a fun game together that you can play on the way to the destination.
- Meal prep is a fun way to engage your child. Whether you’re making a big family dinner or throwing together a quick lunch, see if there’s a way you can include them. Could they wash some vegetables or toss a green salad? Offer them a few age-appropriate ways to help and let them decide what sounds like fun.
- Exercise as a family. I remember my dad used to run every day with our dog. I always loved it when he would invite me to bike alongside him. If you’re not a runner, take your kid on a walk or ride bikes together around the neighborhood. Try printing off some pictures of seasonal plants and flowers that you can expect to find in your area and see how many you can spot in neighbors’ yards.
- Small displays of physical affection can be invaluable to your child. Physical touch can be easily forgotten when parents are just trying to make it through each day. There are small ways of showing your child you care. Try rubbing lavender or jasmine-scented lotion on your child’s arms before bed. Painting nails can be a fun and creative way to infuse more physical touch with your daughter. When you’re watching television together, give a little back scratch as a meaningful way to remind your child that you care.
Get creative! See if your child has any ideas of their own of small ways to spend more time together. No matter how you choose to connect with your child, verbally reinforce that you value your time with them. Try saying, “I’m glad we can have a little time together, just you and me.” This helps your child become more aware of your effort to spend time together and it lets them know just how important that time is to you!