As the school year starts back up, it can feel like the world starts to spin at double-speed. Between everyone’s busy schedules, navigating jobs, keeping appointments, juggling homework, extra-curricular activities, playing with friends, etc., you might feel like this time of year is not ideal for strengthening your connection with your kids. As a parent myself, however, I’ve found that this is actually a great time to connect with my children in ways that are important and meaningful for all of us!
Here are three ways that I am strengthening my relationship with my kids this school year:
1. Checking in at goings and comings
A great time to connect with your kids is right before they leave for school in the morning, and first thing when they get home in the afternoon. For my family, this means having a family prayer and giving hugs and kisses before people head out the door in the morning, and chatting about everyone’s day in the car on the way home from school. It’s likely that these goings and comings will look different for you and your family, but making the effort to check in for even just a few minutes at these times will help you stay engaged in each other’s days and feel connected, even if you aren’t able to spend significant amounts of time together.
2. Investing in their learning
School can be a great opportunity for us to connect with our children as we invest time and attention into their education, both at school and at home. The more we make an effort to support our children in their learning, the more likely they will succeed at school and in other areas of their lives, such as work and even their own interpersonal relationships.
Both my husband and I are involved in helping our children with their homework, keeping in touch with their teachers, volunteering time at their schools, and providing a supportive learning environment at home. Find ways that you can meaningfully invest in your children’s learning that works within your means and schedule, and make sure to take advantage of what support networks are available to you!
3. Prioritizing family meal time
Research has shown that having family meals together has many benefits, including better mental and physical health, better school performance, higher self-esteem for kids, and better family relationships overall. It’s not always easy to coordinate schedules and get everyone around the dinner table at the same time every night, but prioritizing a meal together even once or twice a week can make a huge difference in staying connected and knowing what is going on in everyone’s lives. My family has a rule that we don’t bring our phones to the table, which really helps us use the time to be present with each other.
Life is always going to be busy, but we are not always going to have our kids around to have dinner with, read a story to, or hug goodbye in the morning. Investing in your relationship with your children now sets them up for success in many areas of their life, and will make staying connected with them a lot easier as they grow older and spread their wings. Go and make this school year a great one!