Family, Kids & Relationships

Built-in bonding: Try the 30-Day Love Challenge with your kids

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As parents we’re all dealing with A LOT—so sometimes it’s helpful to remember that the most important thing you can do as a parent is just to make sure your kids feel loved.

Looking for new ways to be intentional about bonding and connecting with your kids? Take it beyond Valentine’s Day, and make showing your kids all the unique ways you love them a priority—every day. Get started with the 30 ideas below, enough for a full month-long love fest. Commit to this 30-day love challenge, and make showing your kids you love them a daily habit!

Day 1: Put your phone away for 2 hours

Commit to not picking up your phone (even to take a cute picture) and just live in the moment!

Day 2: Have a sing-along

Let your guard down and belt out some of your kid’s favorite tunes. Hairbrush microphones always help.

Day 3: Leave them a note

Write or draw a cute love note that they’ll discover later. Hide it in their backpack, tape it to the bathroom mirror, or tuck it into a pocket or their shoe.

Day 4: Go for a walk

Fit in time for an old-fashioned stroll together—it’s sure to spark some curiosity, conversation, or just fun moments. Try to notice five things, either about the neighborhood or each other, that you’ve never noticed before.

Day 5: Read together

Cuddle up to enjoy an old favorite, or try something new—most local libraries have apps that let you borrow ebooks for free online, so you can check out new stories safely even during the pandemic. You might be surprised by how much older kids still enjoy being read to—or turn the tables, and ask them to read to you! Either way, great fodder for more bonding and learning time.

Day 6: Heart-shaped breakfast

Whether it’s pancakes, eggs, toast, or fruit… with a little creativity you can surprise your kiddo with a sweet shape.

Day 7: Say how proud you are

Think of something specific you’ve been proud of your kid for lately, and talk about it! Try one of these positive phrases that are much better than simply saying, “Good job!”

Day 8: Ask me anything

Tell your kid they can ask you any questions they want for 15 minutes, and promise to answer honestly.

Day 9: Let them help

Whether it’s putting a stamp on an envelope, being in charge of making the salad for dinner, or reading the amount on a bill, let your kid participate in a grownup task.

Day 10: Make a craft together

If you don’t have craft supplies, no sweat! Get creative with egg cartons, twist ties, leaves, and more. This origami butterfly is a great place to start—all you need is paper!

Day 11: Calming techniques

Practice some deep breathing, yoga poses, or things to say and do when feeling upset—for both you and your child. Here are some mental health activities that are great for the whole family.

Day 12: Learn something new together

Encourage that never-ending curiosity! Watch an educational video about how macaroni is made, or mix vinegar and baking soda together and see what happens. One of these simple kid-friendly science experiments would be perfect!

Day 13: Draw a picture

Try doodling a greeting on their lunch bag, or leave a post-it note picture on their door. Even if you’re not much of an artist, your kid will appreciate the gesture! You could also play a simple pen and paper game that involves drawing together—super easy and super fun!

Day 14: Make a chore fun

Just because you’ve got stuff to do doesn’t mean you can’t play with the kiddos. Make laundry day into a robot folding competition, or act out a musical while drying the dishes.

Day 15: Dance party

Jump around, make a fool of yourselves, and release some endorphins!

Day 16: Give “process praise”

Process praise that highlights kids’ actions and efforts (rather than results praise, or looks or personality praise) especially boosts kids’ confidence. So think along the lines of “I love how patient you’re being” or “You’re concentrating so well.”

Day 17: Take a new route

Take a detour on the way home from school or errands—maybe you’ll discover something new together.

Day 18: Have a “no-smile” contest

This one might not sound very loving, but trust us, kids love it! Look right into each other’s eyes, and keep as serious an expression on your face as you can. There’s something about trying not to smile that makes it impossible not to laugh!

Day 19: Play pretend

Whether your kiddo loves tea parties or dino battles, join in on the fun for once! If you’re not a huge fan of imagination play (hey, it isn’t everyone’s favorite thing), we have seven parenting hacks that can make it way more fun.

Day 20: Make a meal together

Find ways the kids can be in charge of certain parts of the cooking, from trimming green beans to mixing stuff together to finding spices on the rack. See three more great ways to include kids in the kitchen below.

Day 21: Plan a family outing

It doesn’t have to be anything over the top—especially during the pandemic, when we should all be staying home as much as possible. Plan a picnic at a local park, have a virtual visit with the grandparents, spend some time outside playing games (yes, even in the winter!), tour a museum or zoo from home, see a drive-in movie, or go geocaching. You could even take a photo safari—on a walk or drive, either explore an area together (it’s so fun to compare pics later and see their perspective) or challenge them with a theme for things to take pictures of (things that are round, all different dogs, or tiny things up close). Give a couple of options and see what your kid is most excited about.

Day 22: Look at old pictures together

There’s nothing better to give you all the warm and fuzzies than looking back at births, weddings, and cute family moments. Be sure to share stories from when your kids were babies, and from your own childhood.

Day 23: Share a sensory experience

Have your child help you pick several household objects (an orange, a book, cotton balls, a box with a rattly puzzle inside, etc) to inspect. Use your five senses to explore each one. What colors and shapes do you see? Do they make any sound—and if so, how would you describe the noise? Does it have a smell or a taste? (Obviously don’t let them put anything near their mouths that would be dangerous!) What textures do you feel—are the items hard, squishy, soft, bumpy? Focusing on something like this together and really being immersed in the moment is great for bonding.

Day 24: Talk about feelings

You can start by asking about two different emotions your kid felt today (and you can participate too!). Boost their emotional intelligence even more (and maybe even learn a bit about them) by asking the questions below.

Day 25: Make dessert together

Sweets are more special (and way more fun) when you make them together. This cookie recipe comes with endless options, so even if you have multiple kids you can be sure everyone ends up happy.

Day 26: No electronics

When there’s no TV, video games, phone-scrolling, or playlists for an afternoon, you and your kids’ creativity might surprise you!

Day 27: Extra cuddle time

Fit in time at the beginning or end of the day for hugs and snuggles on the couch. Ask them how their day was—and really listen to the answer.

Day 28: Tell a story

It can be something from your childhood or a made-up story. If you’d like to tell a story together, the Fortunately/Unfortunately game is fantastic for fostering both creativity and lots of laughs.

Day 29: Surprise snack

Bring home something they’ll have fun trying, like an exotic fruit or a new flavor of popcorn.

Day 30: Family movie night

You can even surprise them with “tickets” and a concession stand—so much fun without having to leave the house!

So are you up for the challenge? I bet you’ll find that after the 30 days you’ll be bursting with more ideas about how to make these habits more regular in the future.

Looking for more ideas?


Dealing with school closures, childcare issues, or other challenges related to coronavirus? Find support, advice, activities to keep kids entertained, learning opportunities and more in our Coronavirus Parents: Parenting in a Pandemic Facebook Group.

For ongoing updates on coronavirus-related issues and questions that impact children and families, please find additional resources here.




Joanna Eng is a freelance writer and editor, Lambda Literary Fellow, and co-founder of Dandelions, a parenting and social justice newsletter. She lives with her wife and child in the New York City area, where she is constantly seeking out slivers of nature. You can find her on Twitter @joannamengland.