Regardless of your family dynamic, parenting is hard work. It almost goes without saying that this role is a full-time job, and with any job, there are going to be times when you feel a little less engaged and enthusiastic than you would like. You’re not a bad parent for feeling disengaged, so there’s no need to feel guilty if you haven’t been giving 110%.
In fact, this is something many parents go through—it’s temporary and you can certainly work your way out of this rut. If you’ve been in a slump, you may be looking for a solution to help you re-engage with your child. Here are six tips to help you be more involved and engaged with your family.
1. Read Together
The act of reading together can be one of the most important factors in building an unbreakable bond and engaging with your child. When done before nap or bedtime, reading together gives you the opportunity to fully connect. With eye contact, snuggles, and a shared focus, you’ll feel re-engaged while helping your child learn and develop into a lifelong reader.
At a certain age, your kids may go from needing you to read every word to reading the stories entirely to you. These early years are a special time, so savor those moments and create warm memories while you have the opportunity.
2. Use Time-Outs Correctly
The time-out is one of the most common punishments for children and yet, many parents make mistakes with the way they use this tool. Instead of simply sending your child away, consider if there may be another more effective method for teaching your child the lesson that needs to be learned.
While some kids will respond better to a time-out, others may learn more by having a conversation or working through the logic of the situation. Of course, all of this will vary by the age of your child and their personality. Ultimately, if a time-out is your best bet, be sure you are making it clear when and why this time-out is being used.
3. Be Consistent
When it comes to engaging and building a bond with your children, consistency is key. If you say you’ll go somewhere or do something—especially if it’s for them—be sure you follow through. You may not feel like going to their soccer match for the fifth time this month, but if they’re expecting you, it’s important to show up. Alternatively, you may not love the protests you get from enforcing a strict bedtime policy, but you know how important it is for your kids to get proper rest.
By providing clear expectations and demonstrating a commitment to your word, you’ll create an environment where your children can trust and depend more deeply upon you—even if they don’t always like having a regular bedtime. As a result, interactions will be more fulfilling for everyone involved and you’ll teach your kids the value of a promise.
4. Schedule Family Time
Another key to engagement is scheduling regular family time. If you have multiple kids with different activities every day of the week, it can be difficult to get everyone in the same place at the same time. This kind of semi-controlled chaos can leave you feeling disconnected and disengaged. Because of this, it’s incredibly important to schedule consistent family time.
House Method recommends setting aside one night a week just for family activities. Whether it’s a spaghetti dinner, movie night, or board game tournament, creating this time—and making it a priority—will bring the whole family back together. Consider alternating who picks the family activity, so everyone gets a chance to be heard.
5. Play Together
It’s only natural for kids to want to play. After all, playtime is how they begin to explore the world and ask questions about how things work. But we all know that just because something is exciting for your kids, does not mean it’s going to be as thrilling for you. However, connecting on your kids’ level is one of the best ways to show them you care. Playing the games your kids want to play, or simply taking an interest in what they find interesting, will make them feel seen and understood. It can also help them build confidence and feel more comfortable voicing their opinions with peers and adults.
Additionally, since all kids go through phases, it’s important to savor each one. Ask them what they want to do together and then let them take the lead. You never know what you can learn from your kids until you give them permission to be your guide.
6. Put Down Your Technology
Parenting in the 21st century comes with its special challenges. After all, there are countless distractions that can pull your focus away from your family. Fortunately, one of the easiest ways to be a more engaged parent is to put down your technology. Cell phones, laptops, and any other device that can lure you into an online world are some of the biggest culprits for disengaged parenting. You start off with the full intention of only being online for five minutes and 20 minutes later, realize you’ve missed out on a prime opportunity to reconnect with your kids.
This is especially important if you’re working on screen time rules with your little ones. They are paying attention and will likely start mimicking (or wanting to mimic) your behavior. Every adult, no matter how busy, can benefit from fewer hours spent scrolling through social media or refreshing work emails. When you put your technology down, you open yourself up to more fully experience your whole family, with all of the quirks and traits that you love them for.
Being a more engaged parent may sound like a daunting task, especially if you already have a busy life and a chaotic schedule. However, these tips are fast, easy, and fairly accessible to everyone. Consider giving a few a try and see how your bond with your kids is able to deepen.
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