5 Smart Ways to Spend More Purposeful Time With Kids
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A funny thing happened one day. My ten year old (one of the laziest humans on the planet) informed me that she was going to start setting her alarm for 5:30 am and riding the bus to school. My neighbor and I trade carpooling days to take the kids to school in the AM, so I usually have time with kids in the car every other day. So I was really confused as to why this kid that is so difficult to get up already wanted to be up even earlier.
She said that she was late to her class the day before and the class had already left to go to specials. So even though they made it there in enough time for her to get to class before being counted tardy, the class had already left. Which put her in the spotlight when she walked into her specials class late. (She haaaaattteessss being in the spotlight.) She said that my neighbor and I talk too much in the mornings so she wanted to ride the bus to make sure she got there on time. (Sigh.)
So she started getting up super early and getting ready for the bus. Our neighborhood entrance sits on a busy highway so I take her to the gate on our golf cart and just wait for the bus. It’s always late.
But what happened was that since it was just us, we started having funny conversations. Like, really funny. Normally my time with kids is time with all of them–not just her. We’re not ever together alone that much, and if we are, it’s to go shopping for clothes for her–which she also hates–and there’s not a ton of conversation. Except her begging to stop at PetSmart to buy something or other nonsense for her hamster.
I try to be understanding to that, because I know she loves that hamster so much. But I really wanted to have a bit better conversations than those revolving around the thing. It’s hard to find that purposeful time with kids, so I really enjoyed this discovery!
Anyway, on school days the hubby is usually either out of town or not helping, but this one morning he was here and said he’d take her to the bus stop. You’d think I would’ve been happy at some help. But you know what? I was sad.
I was sad that I was missing having those little conversations with her. She’s pretty quiet anyway, and getting into those pre-teen attitude years, so I take any chance I can get to spend with her having interesting, witty for a ten-year-old, conversations.
I began to realize that just these little pockets of time with kids are so important to keep a relationship going. That purposeful time with kids is so limited, that if you have it, you need to hang on to it!
The four-YO is with me Tuesdays and Thursdays all day, so we have lots of talks–usually her talking. But the other kids are gone all day during the school year. So at this point, I feel like my husband and I really need to find ways to stay connected with them.
My parents didn’t give a hoot about having an actual ‘relationship’ with any of us kids. My husband’s did, though. And it’s super evident today. They’re very involved as much as they can be. I want that with my kids, too. I want us to be friends as adults. But I know that has to start with spending time with kids while they’re still kids.
After this epiphany of mine, I started really brainstorming to come up with some cool ways for us to spend one-on-one time with kids individually, and here’s a list of what I came up with:
*Purposeful Time With Kids #1:
Find strange pockets of time to have silly conversations.
(Waiting in the pharmacy drive-thru, waiting for the bus, basically any time you have to wait for something, bedtime when you go to tuck them in or say prayers, etc). I also sometimes just go sit on the toilet (like, just sitting) and talk to the 8YO while she’s in the bath. She gets pretty creative in there, so it’s usually pretty funny, too.
A really cute option I like for this is the Q&A A Day Journal for kids. It gives you ideas of things to ask when spending that more purposeful time with kids, but it’s a journal (comes in a 3-year or 5-year AND they now have a 2-person one as well!) It lets them write their thoughts about the questions in their own little funny (and normally inspiring) language.
*Purposeful Time With Kids #2:
Use chore time
When you’re teaching them how to do something, find a way to connect, maybe share something about your childhood. My kids seem to be really interested in this (maybe because they think I was born before TVs existed, I don’t know…) But they always want to know things about how my parents raised me, and what kinds of things I did as a kid, etc.
*Purposeful Time With Kids #3:
Read the books they read, then talk about them.
One day I saw a book the 10YO had and asked her about it, then read it myself. We had some really cool conversations about it later. And now, when she’s read a book from her teacher’s stash and likes it, she’ll bring it to me to read, too. One of the best conversations starters lately has been the book Wonder. And we were both doing the excited countdown for the day when the movie came out. (She did comment on the fact that I cried from start to finish of the movie, but I suspect she’ll cry from start to finish during it after she’s birthed children as well.)
The point is that we have something that we connect with. Even if it is just a book. Or a movie, or even a toy or game!
*Purposeful Time With Kids #4:
Have a designated ‘kid date’ once a month.
My kids love this so much because they get to have that one-on-one time where we basically do whatever they want to do. What’s funny is that the 8YO almost always ends up telling me a story about something that happened in school that confused her. She’s struggled with the ‘mean girl’ thing a few times since first grade, and her little heart still doesn’t understand why some people are so mean.
I love these times so much, because I was always afraid to tell my mom about stuff like that when it happened at school. We just didn’t talk. So if I can be some sort of beacon of wisdom for my kid to help her deal with sh*t like this that’s pretty unavoidable, I absolutely will!
Here’s a great post on planning 12 kid-dates for the whole year by Jenae at I Can Teach My Child. She puts together these brilliant little envelopes and puts brochures or gift cards in them for her kids to open!
*Purposeful Time With Kids #5:
Have a Mommy and Me (or Daddy and Me) Journal:
I saw this once and started it with my 10-YO but will also start soon with the 8-YO. Basically you take a new spiral notebook (let your kid pick it out so they think it’s extra special), OR you can Wonder
So you start off by writing them a letter. Then you leave it on their bed or desk or wherever they’ll find it. Then they read the letter and write one back to you. I can’t tell you how sweet and funny these are!
I’ve saved all of them to keep for when they grow up. And I also look back in them when I’m feeling super sentimental or feel like the time is just passing too darn quick. Honestly, purposeful time with kids is one of those things we seek out generally when that time has passed–and I definitely don’t want to blink and have it already have passed!
Download your FREE Mommy/Daddy and Me Journal here!
What things do you do to spend more purposeful time with kids? Let me know in the comments!
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