Between children’s sports, dance classes, homework, and playtime, family
connection can be tough to find!
Life coach and author Connie Sokol shares ideas to create pockets of time
and predictable places where you can consistently connect.
Use drive time. Despite your children’s protests, this is vital time to
get scoops on the day. Turn off the radio and require all ear buds out. Avoid
the usual questions of “How was your day?” and instead ask specifics—who
did you hang with at lunch/play with at recess? What was the high/low today?
Then ask follow up questions—”Why?”, “What did he say?” or “What did you
do about it?” No need to make it a Diane Sawyer interview, but a few follow-
up questions yields great info nuggets that can come in handy later. And
keep the gasps and judgment calls for later.
Establish a “chat room”. In your home or car, on the back deck or
at the kitchen counter, create a typical place to talk where they know you will
likely be. My children know that after an evening activity mom will most likely
be in her pjs and her bed, lamp on, journal in hand, waiting for a lowdown on
the fun. Whatever you choose, make it a lovely place with things that invite
warmth—milk and cookies in the kitchen, a cozy chair in your bedroom—and
you’ll find they want to be there.
Choose “Their” night. Simply and clearly choose time to spend
individually with each child. It doesn’t matter the frequency—once a month,
every other day—or the time frame—pop in for a surprise lunch, on the way
to volleyball, etc. With six children, we start at the top of the list and my
husband and I alternate, making sure within a few months each child has
been out, alone, with both him and myself. These one-on-one times are
tough to choreograph but so fabulously worth it. Where else would I hear the
vital details of the latest Rick Riordan book, or the intense playground drama
I’d only guessed at? And it doesn’t have to be “a deal”. Driving one of my
daughters to her dance class is a perfect time to elongate it with a Subway
dinner once in a while. We typically alternate activities—a full-on dinner, ice
cream at the park, or a dollar movie and popcorn (driving at least 30 mins
away so we can talk on the way). And we ideally try to involve their interests.
My one son and I attended many of the Harry Potter book releases, and he
still talks about it though he’s in college! It doesn’t have to over-the-top, but
your children will look forward to it and help them feel “I matter.”
Connie Sokol is a mother of six, a national and local presenter, former TV
and radio host, and columnist for Deseret News. She is the author of Faithful,
Fit & Fabulous, Life is Too Short for One Hair Color, and Life is Too Short for
Sensible Shoes. Connie shares weekly woman/wife/mom life tips, products,
and a fabulous blog at www.8basics.com. She delights in
spending time with her family and eating decadent treats.