Given everyone’s hectic schedules, you may think you are too busy to squeeze in meaningful, day-to-day exchanges with your children. Actually—you are not. In between the fast-paced lives you and your children lead, you can stay connected with quick activities and bonding rituals that, when embraced with your full attention, love and enthusiasm, can mean the world to your children and you.
To kids, little things mean a lot. When they’re older, they will remember even short, impromptu gestures as well as longer, affirming interactions. Five minutes talking, singing a family song, or shooting baskets can be enough to solidify a tight parent-child bond.
Try these short—yet meaningful—five-minute connections:
1. May I Have This Dance?
After dinner turn on some music (perhaps your favorite song from when you were younger) and dance with your children for a few minutes. They’ll remember your enthusiasm, and perhaps the silliness, years later.
2. Getting to Know You
Do you know your child’s favorite color? Favorite song? Most beloved cartoon character? Favorite book? When you know her preferences you know her better. Each day, take a moment to ask your child something about herself. Then, share something about yourself. It’s a simple prompt that can invite fascinating conversations to bring parent and child closer together. Before you know it, you’ve created a bonding ritual—and a tradition.
3. Thank You
Send your child a short note with a message of appreciation: “Thank you for brushing the dog,” or, “Thanks for helping me clean out the refrigerator,” or, “Thank you for helping out with your baby brother.” The gesture becomes memorable when you do it frequently.
4. What Should I Wear?
Ask your child to help you select your outfit for the next day, an important meeting, or dinner with friends (limit the choices to two). Your daughter or son will feel important and that you value his opinion for such a grown-up task.
5. Reading Rituals
Remember, even older children like to be read to long after they can read themselves. Share one short chapter a night.
Hand out coupons for more time-consuming things you and your child can do together when their and your schedules allow: “I owe you a trip to the park (or zoo).” “I owe you a game of Monopoly.” “I owe you a manicure.”