Guest author Michelle Stull shows us how easy it can be to unplug from technology and connect with our kids in the simplest of ways!
When you’re in the midst of juggling the many demands on your time, it may seem as though your children will be young and underfoot forever. In those moments, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve heard, “they grow up too quickly!” You won’t believe it.
As the very proud mother of two grown children, I can easily attest to the fact that they grow up way too quickly. It gives me immense joy that my daughters are both living happy and productive lives, but I doubt that I’ll ever stop missing the days when they lived in my home and I had the privilege of spending quality time with them on a daily basis.
Hint for busy young moms from an old veteran
There are times when you need your children to play happily on their own, allowing you to accomplish the necessary tasks that keep your home from falling down around you. The best way to achieve this? First, give them the gift of your undivided attention. Trust me, it works every time! And it comes with the fringe benefit that you’ll all be enriched and in a better mood from spending quality time with the most important people in your world!
In my seventeen rewarding years as an elementary school teacher, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many students and their families. Those students with the good fortune of being raised by parents who invest quality time and attention are very frequently the most confident students. They are the ones who stretch further, taking the necessary risks and making mistakes on their way to high-level academic proficiency!
Here are 4 simple ways to sneak in more quality time with your kids!
There is nothing more valuable that you can give your children than your focused attention! This time can often be found in the midst of daily errands. When you’re traveling to a destination, waiting to check out at a store, or anytime you have those precious few minutes to be with your loved ones. When you’re not tending to the demands of home or work, resist the urge to tune into a device and instead tune into each other!
1. Breakfast Silly-Time
In the morning, prepare a simple breakfast, so that more quality time can be spent enjoying the meal together, rather than on prep or clean-up. The best way to start your child’s day is by giving the gift of your undivided attention, especially if the by-product is hearty laughter and ear to ear smiles!
We all know that reverse psychology is oddly an effective motivator. Try challenging your children not to laugh or smile while taking turns telling silly stories. Chances are that everyone’s mood will quickly be lifted and you’ll all soar happily into your day.
2. Backseat Wish List
While driving, instead of instinctively turning on an iPad or handing over toys, ask them what is at the top of their current wish list. Ask for their reasoning and even better, discuss the cost of the item and allow your child to brainstorm ways to raise the funds.
It’s never too early to start teaching the value of a dollar and how to prioritize their needs and wants.
3. Grocery Line Giggle Game
When waiting in a long line at the grocery store, instead of becoming impatient and stressing about the many other things you need to accomplish, consider this an extra gift of time with your children. If they aren’t benefitting from your attention, they are likely to add to your frustration instead.
Wouldn’t you rather giggle with your child than explain for the umpteenth time why they can’t touch every piece of candy in that enticing display?
This would be a perfect time to make up silly tongue twisters. Most people know the fun of Sally selling seashells by the seashore, but few have experienced the hilarity that can result from creating your own linguistic challenges. You simply need to pick a random topic and then think of a few words that describe the topic, most starting with the same letter. What a fun way to strengthen vocabulary skills!
4. If I Were A Bird
Those precious moments between bathtime and bedtime are the perfect time to help your children foster their imaginations and end their day on a positive note. Try playing, “If I were a bird…” In this game, children can choose a place to “fly over” in their imaginations (or you can suggest a familiar place to them). Ask them to describe what they see, hear, and feel as they fly over. Where will they fly to next?
And my favorite… “You Ate What?”
The best time to start a game of, “You Ate What?” is during any meal that you are enjoying together. The rules of play for this game and the others mentioned throughout this post can be found in my book, In a Pinch! 8 Fun Family / Group Games to Play in Fifteen Minutes or Less. No supplies needed and no technology! (Available as a Kindle download on Amazon.)
All you need for enjoying the games found within this book are a few people you enjoy being with! There is no need to gather or carry supplies and there are no batteries required! I consider that a welcome change. There are many gifts that our modern plugged-in society can access quickly, but we also run the risk of forgetting to unplug and enjoy the people we are fortunate enough to be face-to-face with.
As relationships strengthen, happiness and productivity grow. Make the world a better place by choosing to be silly and play a game! In my eBook, In a Pinch! 8 Fun Family / Group Games to Play in Fifteen Minutes or Less. No Supplies Needed and No Technology!, you will find simple and engaging games that will have you and your children building meaningful memories in no time! From trying to be the last to crack a smile, to tongue-twisting fun; from games that build knowledge of healthy eating and geography to games that challenge and build creativity and imagination, you’ll be grateful that you chose to stay tuned-in with your children!
What’s your favorite way to spark smiles with your kids?
Michelle Stull has been an elementary educator for seventeen years and speaks at education conferences on the topic of positive classroom management. She is currently celebrating the upcoming release of the book that accompanies her program, Building a Family Learners – Confidence and Achievement Go Hand-in-Hand. While she loves her role as an educator, her most honored role is that of mommy to her two grown daughters, ages 26 and 22. You can connect with Michelle through her website, Teaching Sunshine, or on LinkedIn or Twitter