The school year has begun! If you are like many families, this means that your evenings are going to be jam packed with homework, appointments and after school activities. I am the mother of an only child, and keeping up with his after school schedule can feel like a nightmare. I have no idea how parents of multiple children do it. After all of the errands have been run, all of the appointments completed and the extracurricular activities and homework are finished, that can leave very little time for parents to reconnect with their children -- especially if they are older.
Even if you have only a few minutes each night to really reconnect with your child, you can do so in a way that is meaningful to both of you. The best part, all of these ways to reconnect with your child are free, take no-time to prepare for, won't harm the environment and will keep you connected to your child every day of the school year. Read on to learn seven green ways to reconnect with your kids on busy school nights.
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1. Great Green Games
It doesn’t take long to play a game with your children. We are huge fans of board and card games in my family, and there are many green options available on the market right now. Card games are great because they are simple to play with children of all ages, they are compact, making them easy to throw in my bag on the way to bowling practice and can be played anywhere. My son and I will play cards while we are in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or if we arrive early to an extracurricular activity we get a quick game in. We also keep a large bowl of card games as the centerpiece on our dining room table. This way, after we have chatted during dinner, we can get in a quick game of cards before tossing the dishes in the dishwasher.
2. Nature Walks at Dusk
Sometimes the only free time that my son and I have together is that time frame after dinner and before bedtime. We like to grab our shoes and walk the nature path around the lake in front of our house. It may be getting dark outside, but that is part of the fun. We get to see animals that we never see during the day. Hello frogs! Things seem a little creepier at night, which always adds a little more excitement to the walk, and it gives us both a little added exercise at the end of a busy day. Plus, it’s nice to walk outside at night with your older child. He might even hold your hand since no one will see you in the dark!
3. Disconnect to Reconnect
We have a big rule in our house that we disconnect from all media during family time. For us that means there are no smart phones, tablets, computers or televisions on during those times. I have set my own business hours to end when my son gets home from school. That way I am never tempted to get sucked back into work. After your child has been at school all day, the last thing he wants is to compete for your time against a digital item. Give it a try and unplug from all of your media during the time that your child is home, then plug back in if you need to when he goes to sleep. I guarantee you won’t miss anything as important as those precious minutes with your child each evening.
4. The Family Dinner
If there is only one activity from this list that you can do every single day – I would recommend it be having dinner as a family. If your family doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare and cook meals during the week, spend a little time on the weekend putting meals together that can be heated up during the week. A family dinner doesn’t have to be elaborate every night, your child will be thankful for simple, healthy meals that he gets to share with you every night. It’s a daily time of reconnection that once you establish can be your family’s meeting spot each night. A family dinner doesn’t have to happen at the same time each day, but it does require that your family meet during the designated time and spend that time together enjoying a good meal and conversation.
5. Snuggle Up
Even though my son is getting older, we still find plenty of time to snuggle together. We usually each grab our current read and head for the family sectional, where we will sit together while we each read our books. My son will periodically stop to tell me something funny, scary or wonderful that just happened in the book that he is reading and we will share a giggle. Instead of unwinding with the television before bed, grab your books and hit the sofa – you and your child will both benefit from a little reconnection and human contact. Make sure to sneak in a hug or two while you are there – it’s the best part!
6. Swap a Story
When I pick my son up from school – we play a simple little game in the car that we call Swap a Story. I tell my son that something funny, interesting, crazy, exciting etc. happened today while he was at school and I can’t wait to tell him all about it. But first, I want to hear about something funny, interesting, crazy, exciting etc. that happened in his day. He almost always has a story ready to tell me and it is a great way for us to stay connected. He will tell me all about the latest school gossip of who-likes-who or something crazy that happened at lunchtime. Then, I tell him about something that happened during my day – such as something funny our dog did, or an outrageous outfit I saw while grocery shopping. It’s a great way for us to laugh together and reconnect after a hectic day at work and school.
7. Great Green Books
Children love to be read to, so make reading aloud to your child something you do as a family. My husband likes to read to us at night before bed, we always read a book that the entire family will enjoy, from the Harry Potter books to The Hunger Games. It’s a fun way to wind down in the evening together and it gives us a lot of things to discuss during dinner. We like to talk about what is happening in the story and make predictions as to what the outcome of the story will be. Once you start, you won’t want to stop (and your children won’t let you), they will want to continue reading the story together to find out what happens next.
Do you have a great green way to reconnect with your kids on busy school nights? We would love to hear! Please leave your comments below!
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