I used to think connection with my children came naturally. The same way it did when I first looked into their eyes at birth.
I thought any time I was spending with my children was connection. After learning more about connected parenting and I began utilizing the techniques, I realized I was wrong.
Connection with your children, or anyone for that matter, is about the quality of the time, not the quantity.
As my boys grow they are developing their own interests. They still enjoy a majority of the same things, but preferences are changing and the way they interact with their environment is drastically different.
I began to notice the more time we spent doing only group activities, the more disconnected I felt from them as individuals. This began to manifest with more sibling rivalry and less family cooperation.
One day it dawned on me! The problem wasn’t the family time, it was the lack of individual time. I was not giving them the one-on-one time they craved. And when we did do something with just the two of us, I was often the one choosing the activity (usually based on time or the mess factor).
Taking a combination of ideas from parenting books and podcasts I had delved into, I decided to institute something we would call “Abraham or Alexander time.” This would be a minimum of 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes every day, where I allowed my children to choose any activity (within reason, we obviously can’t drive to the Disney every day) for us to do together, one-on-one.
During this time I would give them 100% of my attention. Absolutely no phones, no going to check on dinner or the other children. I would allow them to be in charge the entire time. And not only would I be present but I would play. Like, really play. No exceptions.
At first, this was really difficult for me.
Ten minutes could feel like an eternity because I honestly had forgotten how to imagine and play without care. I had become so wrapped up in being an adult all the time, I had a hard time letting go and enjoying the moment.
Benefits of Connection
Spending time to connect daily with each of my children has significantly changed the family dynamics in my household.
- Aside from loving the time we are spending together I have noticed that the more time I build in for connection the more likely my boys are to cooperate with daily tasks.
- When I actively show them that I care about their interests and give them time to boss me around a little they understand the give-and-take of a healthy relationship a little bit better.
- I am no longer the dictator of the house but rather a mentor and ally.
- I have also learned even more about their differences and how to communicate and bond with them on a much more personal level.
My five-year-old is more interested in building, engineering, and inventing. He likes all things Lego, magnet tiles, homemade rockets, and science experiments. My three-year-old likes to be creating and thinking using Playdough, painting, building puzzles, and playing board games.
I may have realized these differences peripherally in the past, but now I can really see how their varying interest are shaping their personalities.
I am not going to lie.
Building in 20-60 minutes of one-on-one connection time every day can be difficult. There are always so many things on my to-do list. But I can see the difference in our relationships when the connection piece is missing and that is enough for me to let the dishes pile up and the floor stay full of dog hair. Especially when I know this time is fleeting.