Sometimes at bedtime, I realize the whole day went by without having a chance to really talk to my kiddo or play together.
I feel like my best self as a parent when I’ve connected with my boys in some way—but a lot of times, the day gets so hectic it just doesn’t happen. As parents, we 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 ours), plus when my boys get my focused attention, even for just a few minutes, they’re always better behaved!
Here are eleven 2-minute ways to connect that my boys and I 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.
My boys always get a huge kick out of making it tough for me—you should’ve heard them laugh last weekend when I turned their scribble into an elephant-shaped car with a mohawk! 😄
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—it gets me and my boys giggling every time!
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 secs, 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-5 or holding their hands for six seconds instead.
And if your child’s a little older, this variation is a HUGE favorite for my boys—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!
(Of course, when my boys were toddlers, their favorite part was destroying the fort when we were finished 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! I’m always surprised where our stories end up after my boys 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 I sometimes 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!