With back-to-school season here once again, the dog days of summer shift dramatically into busy mode. Suddenly, schedules feel packed. In between morning commutes, after-school sports or weekend extracurricular activities, it seems that there’s barely time to update each other on your day. You’re not alone. Life swirls at a hectic pace in most families. That reality places a high premium on family time, even if parent-child bonding seems difficult.

However, carving out small pieces from your daily routine for family bonding is not impossible. Time together is doable for the busiest families. The following tips are designed to help make the best out of whatever time you have together — even five minutes — to solidify your parent-child bond.

Remember, five minutes a day make a difference over time. Repeating what you do creates tradition and is the key to happy memories of growing up … and to glowing memories of you.

Easy 5-minute rituals for busy families:

  1. Tear up the dance floor: Instead of having everyone flock to the television set or their rooms after dinner, try dancing. Turn on some music and twirl, disco, or square dance with your children for a few minutes. It can be a nightly ritual after you’ve all cleared dinner dishes. Over time, your children will look forward to “dance time.” (It’s good exercise, too.)
  1. Guessing game: Do you know your child’s favorite song? Favorite dish? Most beloved cartoon character? Take time to quiz one another on your passions and preferences. Each day, stop 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 parent-child bonding ritual — and a tradition.
  1. Bugle call: Invent your own wake-up song to sing each morning that includes your children’s names. Be creative and silly with it.
  1. Catching … up: Every now and then, spend five minutes before dinner tossing a baseball or football outside. Mark a calendar with a ball or a check mark to keep track of how well you’re catching up. You might be surprised at the deeper conversations that arise when part of your brain focuses on playing catch instead of all you still have to do.
  1. Special snack: Reserve a different plate or cup for snack time use only. This can be a plate or cup you used as a child or one your child received as a gift from a favorite relative. Decorated paper plates and cups also separate snack time from regular meals and make snack time an anticipated event.

For more parent-child bonding tips — including suggestions for longer time frames, holidays, and other special occasions, visit Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day.