At the end of a long, busy day, you may realize the whole day went by without having a chance to really talk to your kiddo or play together.
Lots of folks feel most on top of their parenting game after they’ve reconnected with their kids—but a lot of times, the day gets so hectic it just doesn’t happen. Parents have so many responsibilities, it’s easy to get in a rut and forget to have any fun.
But little moments of bonding are important for emotional well-being (theirs and yours), plus when kids get your focused attention, even for just a few minutes, they’re more likely to behave!
Here are eleven 2-minute ways to connect that you and your kids will love:
Let your little one draw a scribble on a piece of paper—the more swirls and loops the better. Your challenge: To turn the scribble into a picture of something that’s (at least *sort of*) recognizable, by coloring parts in or drawing details like eyes or wheels.
Even just making eye contact & being close helps you and your little one feel connected. Point out the features you share as well as the ones that make each of you unique.
Then, use a dry erase marker to take turns drawing silly hats, glasses, and other decorations on each other’s reflections in the mirror!
Pretend your kiddo’s cupid, and they have to shoot a love arrow at you (or you can play “Cupid Tag,” if you’re not wild about the idea of pretend shooting).
Once your little love bug “gets” you, you have to chase them to give them tons of kisses and hugs.
Wrap them up in your arms—at about six seconds, the brain begins releasing the feel-good hormones serotonin and oxytocin, which promote bonding and boost mood.
If your kiddo isn’t much of a hugger or they have sensory issues, try a long high five or holding their hands for six seconds instead.
And if your child’s a little older you can try this variation—wrap your arms and legs *gently* around your kiddo and announce they’re in a hug trap and they have to wiggle their way out!
Let them out pretty easily the first few times, and once you’re sure they’re having fun you can start making it tougher.
Take your couch apart and lean the cushions together to make walls—drape a blanket over the top for a ceiling, and the extra that hangs over is perfect for a “door.” It’s a great place read or tell stories! They’ll also enjoy demolishing the fort once they’re done playing!
Kids love making faces, so follow their lead—sit face-to-face and imitate each other as you make the silliest expressions you can. The one who can go the longest without laughing wins! (SPOILER ALERT: *everyone* ends up laughing.)
Story time prompts cuddling and shared emotion, all of which help to you and your kiddo bond.
Have a couple of short, easy faves you can grab in a pinch any time you want to take a moment to connect with your cutie.
Go outside or look through the window together and talk about the weather. Is it windy out? How can you tell? If it’s stormy, you can each pick a raindrop on the glass and see whose races to the bottom of the window first.
Keep it in your bag and anytime you have a moment, jot down or draw what you’re both doing or how you’re feeling today (be sure to date each entry). Take a minute to talk about the best/toughest part of that day, or what might have happened to put you in the mood you’re in.
Every once in a while, look back together at what you’ve written—it’ll remind you both of all the moments you’ve shared.
This is a great one to do in the car, and works just as well with multiple kids or just one—first, start a story with a simple sentence like, “One day, a little girl was on her way to the moon.”
Then everyone takes turns adding to the story, one line at a time. It’s SO much fun to hear your kid’s imagination at work! You’ll be surprised where your stories end up after your kids add their silly or wild twists and turns.
It’s easy to play, it doesn’t require any objects, and it can be done anywhere on a moment’s notice. Older kids can play rhyming I Spy (which you can use to move on to the next activity) — “I spy something that rhymes with hook…” “It’s a book—let’s read it together!”
Every parent could stand to take a break from the daily grind *and* feel better about their day with their kiddo—be sure to share these ideas with some friends!