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Raising kids is a constant guessing game. It is easy when they are little to spend time and keep them engaged. What happens when their friends, video games, school and jobs start to compete with your bonding time? Well you have to find clever ways to sneak it in of course!
1. Turn off the video games. Yes I know they complain but if you turn them off they will start to talk. In our home we turn them off at 6pm weekdays. We also create a video game free day on Sundays.
2. This one is in my opinion the most important, eat dinner together at the table..turn the TV off! Remember childhood? Where did we eat? Until the invention of the TV tray most American families ate at the dinning room table. What would happen if we all took a page from the history books? During this valuable time ask them how their day went…without judgement! Oh and no cell phones at the table!
3. Turn off your phone. Like most parents I transport my children back and forth to school. They are forced to pay attention to me for at least 10 minutes..I take this seriously, seriously goofy that is:). I see too many parents driving around their children with phones to their ears. You are missing a captive audience right in your passenger seats. My children use this time to play slug bug and yellow banana. Yep that’s right it is still fun even as an adult!
4. Movie night and pizza. This is the only time my family eats in front of the TV. So it is special and fun. They never miss movie night, in fact my freshman in college asks me if we can have a movie night when he comes home. It’s simple I know but very effective.
5. Family day. Most families do this already. Ours in Sunday mainly because of church and its video game free day. We play cards, board game, go for walks, bike, fish…list goes on and on.
6. Let them choose the movies, books and music. You will be surprised in their tastes. I allow my sons to add music to my workout playlist. What an adventure! It allows me to open up conversation about their interests. I also have been known to read a book because my kids loved it so much.
7. Bedtime is talk time. Create a bedtime ritual which includes walking into their rooms every night. I use that time to tell them how proud of them I am and also to tell them I can’t wait to see them in the morning. If you are aren’t telling them how amazing they are then who us? I also sneak in some personal conversations about people they may be interested in. It’s great how much they will tell you at bedtime.
8. Social media seems to get a really bad rap but as an engaged parent I use it to send them little reminders of how much I love them. I Facebook upcoming events, tagging them in the posts and wishing them luck. I text them that I love them..like modern day sticky notes in their lunch box. Do they roll their eyes? I’m sure but I can’t see it and I know that they read it!
9. I made a deal with my children, if they help cook or bake they don’t have to help clean. I have many children so this works well. One kid helps cook. One kid helps bake (on Sundays) , one empties the dishwasher and the other helps clean up. Both the cooking and the clean up seems to turn out really fun. We turn in a fun playlist, dance, sing, snap each other with towels and have aluminum ball wars! They don’t seem to mind this time.. It’s better than giving them a choir and fighting them about it. They have a choice if what they want to help with so they have the power.
10. Workout together. Go to the gym, take a walk, bike ride, play a team sport by putting one parent on one team and the other on the opposite then divide the children…funniest memories happen here. Don’t miss out!

If given a choice some children would not spend time with their families. That is why it is important to create some family rituals they love. We get busy but the key is to always make them feel like you are never too busy for them. It’s never too late to start.