12 Ways to Connect With Your Children

Don’t let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have oneDear Moms,

Don’t let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have one.  Believing in your child and highlighting their assets creates a strong connection between you and your child.

Today’s American families are starving for connection. Personally, I have found 5 C’s helpful to remember – connect (just do it), consistency matters, put time together on the family calendar , be creative, and communicate your desires plus seek their input.

Below are several ways my family has connected over the years. While these suggestions will look different for each family, I personally appreciate looking into how others go about life.

1) Family Mealtime by far has been one of the most important ways for our family to connect and develop a sense of who we are as a family. We aim to sit down and eat at least five meals together achieving far more.

Mealtime is one way to provide a nutritious meal along with a healthy deposit of quality time into one another’s lives. Understandably, toddlers can be difficult to manage at the table, but remember, table time is a golden opportunity to train them. Over time, with consistency, they will become accustomed to sitting, listening, and participating in the good conversations and fun during mealtime.   We view family dinner as a time to connect, laugh, tell stories and catch up on one another’s daily “high point and low point.”

2) Establish a family night where together you play board games, watch family movies, look through family photos or videos, enjoy pizza, etc.… As your children get older let them become involved with the planning.

3) Spend quality time daily with your child. Kids spell love T-I-M-E and know the difference between quality verse quantity investments. It’s easy to assume that you spend all day with your child but are you connecting? Make a habit of getting down on the floor to enter your toddler’s world. Ask your grade school children what quality time would look like to them.

4) Date your children. My girls relished the one on one time they would have with their dad or me. It was fun to take them places they enjoyed such as ice cream as well as allowing their dad to occasionally treat them to a special dinner, teaching them what it’ like to be lavished by a man. I found having a monthly date with our children allowed them to share their hearts more deeply as they didn’t have to compete for attention and it gave them something special to look forward to.

People always told me that my girls would grow up quickly, but I had no idea just how fast time would pass. When my girls were toddlers while attending a MOPS gathering, someone read the poem below. Neither my husband nor I can read this poem without tearing up.

Poem to busy to stop and play

5) Make memories by celebrating milestones. Memories are those once in a lifetime events that mark the moment. Consider the many first events in a child’s life and creatively finds ways to commemorate them. Events we celebrated include first Christmas, relinquishing a pacifier, potty training, beginning Kindergarten, accepting Christ, baptism, completing elementary school, menstruation, graduation, etc.…

celebrating birth of child and becoming a big sister

 

6) Make holidays, special events, and family traditions meaningful. Traditions are the things you do year after year and are known as the “We always do___________________.” An older post I wrote on meaningful traditions offers suggestions on cultivating traditions.

7) Have endearing names and special saying. Jon fondly calls Cayley “K-Bob.” When parting one another’s presences we usually say, “God be with you and I love you,” while waving the I love you sign. SHMILY – See how much I love you.

I love you, special sayings, goodbye

Cherie Werner @thewerners.org

8) Make your home a sanctuary, a safe and inviting place that your children and their friends would want to hangout. It helps to maintain a kid friendly home verse a museum that discourages kids from being kids in fear of breaking things.

9) Serve together. Service should begin in the home to each other and be carried into the world outside the walls of the family.  As a family we began serving the homeless of Austin when my daughters were toddlers.  We have gone on several mission trips to Mexico one when Cayley was three.

serving together as a family

Suggestions for toddlers:

  • Teach your kids to serve by providing opportunities for them to serve others while they serve alongside you.
  • Teach children how to pray for missionaries.
  • Collect bottles of shampoo and soap to donate to a women’s shelter
  • Donate toys and gently used clothing.
  • Give gifts to less fortunate kids at Christmas time. (Operation Christmas Child boxes, Christmas Angel,
  • 2-year-old can help with household tasks – unloading the bottom rack of the dishwasher, setting the table, making bed, pushing the laundry basket down the hall
  • Serve the elderly neighbors by bringing them a card or meal or just pay them a visit.

Adolescents need to know that they matter. As your children mature, it’s helpful to find volunteer opportunities that fit their personality.

  • Homeless shelters or outreaches
  • Visit a nursing home
  • Food Banks
  • Ronald McDonalds House
  • Visit little ones at local Children’s hospital

10) Invest and be interested in your child’s passions. Becoming a student of your children is helpful in discovering what their gifts, talents, and abilities are. Since we are all created for a purpose, we must help our children discover their unique place. Previously in a post, I answered this question, “How did you discern your children’s career desires and passions? How did that direct their educational choices both in high school and transitioning beyond high school to college?”

11) Express your love and appreciation via the written word.  Slip notes into their lunch box or under their pillow. Begin a parent-child journal to go between each other sharing positive words of blessing, recognition, gratitude and hopes for the future.

12) Bedtime routines provide a wonderful time for connecting with little ones.  As you bathe, cuddle, read and pray together you mostly likely will encounter inquisitive children who are slowing down enough to verbally process their busy day.

While it goes without saying there are numerous ways to connect with your children.  Your job is to just do it.  The benefits are numerous.  Please share some ways you connect best with your child(ren).



Why Routines Are Important

Routines, why we need them

THEWERNERS.ORG

Unfortunately, the easy carefree days of summer are now behind us. Labor Day has passed and school has commenced yet again causing us to seek the elusive perfect routine.  As moms, we seek the most productive daily habits or routines to simplify not only our lives but our children also.

Routines don’t occur overnight. They need to be established and consistently evaluated and enforced. Those that work best are printed out and routinely reviewed. It’s never too late to start a routine or to revamp existing ones.  That is exactly what I find myself doing yearly around this time.

When establishing new routines, it is best to decide how you’d like to see your days flow and build a routine around that. Determine a schedule that works for your family and be as consistent as possible. I find that routines are useful during new school year transitions, the birth of a child, major life changes, etc… Given the launch of a new school year, we’ve been experimenting with the order and flow of our days and have yet to find a good rhythm but I will reevaluate weekly and tweak what I have.

Benefits of having routines:

  • Routines provide a sense of security for children allowing their lives to be more predictable.
  • Routines establish boundaries to eliminate parents from being the bad nagging taskmaster and the schedule/clock becomes the enforcer.
  • Routines eliminate potential power struggles, as children know what to do and when to do it.
  • Routines build confidence and independence in children.
  • Routines improve family relationships, because time together is scheduled and occurs more consistently, rather than just spontaneously.
  • Children tend to cooperate, as they know what is expected. I recommend having visual charts for younger children to help them cooperate.  Your children are less likely to challenge you knowing what you expect of them.
  • Routines provide consistency in our lives.
  • Routines help to eliminate anxiety. All children want to know, “what are we doing today?” or  “where are we going?” By providing visual or verbal daily routines we help ease the insistent questions and ease a child’s inquisitiveness.
  • Children tend to be happier because they have a sense of security and predictability.
  • Routines help keep order and structure in the home
  • Moms are less stressed as routines will help save time. Everyone knows what to do and when to do it.
  • Routines often help children make transitions easier as they change from one activity to another.
  • Routines allow the important tasks of life to get done. For example if exercise is important and it’s scheduled for Monday and Friday, we are more likely to do it.  By planning to exercise, I’ve made it a priority.
  • Routines promote self-governing and responsibility.  When routines are followed step-by-step and day-by-day, a child is learning habits and the character of responsibility.  As parents we need to be positive and encouraging.

It should go without saying, to incorporate a successful routine your child must know the routine.  For younger children I suggest using visual charts and enforcing the routine through consistency and verbal repetitions.  For older children, involve them when crafting out routines. Reevaluate the routines and tweak as necessary. Your children will feel more invested and empowered to follow them.

Be Flexible.  Having a routine doesn’t mean that every minute of the day is rigidly scheduled. However, you might want to consider having morning and bedtime routines.  Other routines might include chores, after school, homeschooling, or exercise.

Getting the day started is a perfect place to begin as mornings tend to set the tone for the remaining day.  Decide what time you and your family will be getting up.

Possible Morning Routines

  • Rise and shine at _________AM
  • Make bed
  • Get dressed
  • Breakfast time
  • Wash face
  • Brush teeth
  • Brush hair
  • Get backpack
  • Leave for school or start school at home.

Obviously, routines will differ for each family and are dependent on the ages plus the number of children.

Here is a link that provides various morning routine charts for your viewing.

Moving on to bedtime routines, remember, you run the show. So select when bedtime will be and work backwards. It doesn’t matter so much what you do but how you go about doing it. For example, are you creating a quite and tranquil environment or is the TV blaring in the background while children are wildly running around?  The best tip for good sleeping habits is to follow a nightly routine, making it easier for your child to relax and fall asleep.

Possible Bedtime Routine

  • Bedtime snack.
  • Bath time.
  • Dress in PJ’s
  • Story time
  • Bedtime- tuck child into bed, prayers, hug & kiss at ­­­­_________PM
  • Exit room.

Here is a link that provides various bedtime routine charts for your viewing.

Should infants be put on routines as early as possible? I don’t think so. Infants tell us what they need. We feed them when they’re hungry, change them when they’re wet. Over time, they learn the first step of a routine:  We sleep at night. Forcing an infant to accommodate our routine is not responsive parenting in my opinion.

Below are age appropriate chores that can easily be integrated into routines.

2-4 year olds

  • help dust
  • put napkins on table
  • help put away toys
  • put laundry in hamper
  • help feed pet

Wake Up! Daily Routines Song for Kids may help to teach concept of morning routine.  

4-7 year olds

  • set the table or help set the table
  • put away toys/things
  • help feed pets
  • water plants
  • help make bed
  • dust
  • put laundry in hamper
  • help put dishes in dishwasher
  • water the garden
  • help wipe up messes
  • help with yard work (rake with child’s rake or plant flowers, etc.)
  • help clear table
  • help put away groceries

Free printable chore charts for children ages 4-10 or you might be interested in these worksheets to reenforce what you are teaching.

8-10 year olds

  • make bed
  • water plants
  • clean room with direction
  • set the table
  • clear the table
  • dust
  • vacuum
  • care for pets
  • help make dinner
  • put laundry in hamper
  • help wash the car
  • help wash dishes
  • help load/empty dishwasher
  • rake leaves
  • take out the trash

11 year olds and older

  • watch younger siblings occasionally
  • take garbage out
  • set the table
  • clear the table
  • clean room with direction
  • put away groceries
  • clean the bathroom with direction
  • clean the kitchen
  • dust
  • vacuum
  • mow lawn
  • feed pets
  • water plants
  • put laundry in hamper
  • help with laundry and eventually start doing own laundry
  • help make dinner/make small meals on own
  • help wash the car/wash car
  • make bed
  • help with yard work
  • shovel snow
  • wash dishes/load or empty dishwasher

Here are free printable chore charts for those ages 11+.

When introducing your tween or teen to new chores be sure to explain and demonstrate the task. For example, explain why clothing needs to be sorted by color prior to washing or why they should create a grocery list prior to shopping.  Nothing is too basic to explain. Don’t talk down to them. I have to remember my job is to teach not lecture. We train them for success by demonstrating how a task is to be done correctly and then having them do it. When they do it right, be sure to reinforce their efforts with praise.

We are training and equipping our young adults at home so they can be successful later in life.  We are preparing them for life on their own.  When they handle chores at home they will be better equipped to handle a job when the time comes.

Routines are invaluable. If you’re feeling you can’t find the time to do the things you desire as a family, some new routines might help. Consider the following questions:

  • Are there activities you would like to do but aren’t doing? Can you include some of them in the family’s regular routine?
  • Would you describe your mornings as chaotic in regards to getting everyone up, fed, and out the door?  Maybe it’s time to establish a regular routine?
  • Would you describe the kid’s bedtime as peaceful and consistent with getting them into bed on time so you and hubby can enjoy some time alone?  Maybe it’s time to establish a regular or better routine?

You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily.  The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. Let me know if this was helpful.

Blessings,

Cherie