100% Real Juice: How To Build A Life-Long Relationship With Our Children

Raise your hand if you find yourself in the midst of never-ending-to-do lists and  wrestling with difficult-to-understand emotions, while struggling to connect with your kids. If you are raising your hand, you and I are not alone. 

The lessons and values we hope to pass down to our kids can only happen through real connection. It's how we've gotten to where we are today. As parents, connecting with our kids should be our main goal. But how do we make sure that connection is growing? It's natural to want a deeper bond with our kiddos, and we're here to join you on this journey. 

Here are 6 simple ways you can connect with your children today, and every day!

Know Their Love Language

If you know anything about love languages you can easily list off your top 2, but if you haven’t, Gary Chapman wrote an impactful book called The Five Love Languages. This book delves into how the people around us express and receive love differently. The 5 languages of love are quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts, words of affirmation, and physical touch. When we take time to really see our kiddos and to study and learn who they are, we are better able to reach out to them in a way that means the most to them. With the love languages in your toolbelt, you will be equipped to intentionally interact with your children with direction and purpose. And even more good news?! This applies to all relationships - marriage especially!

Join Them

Our children are naturally curious observers of the world around them. Constantly exploring, learning, and delighting in the simplest of things. We often give them time and space to do all of this, but what if instead of striving to get something done while they’re entertained, we joined them?! What if we crouched down next to them to watch the line of ants go by? What if we chased the butterflies together or splashed in puddles by their side? These are the simple joys and the stitches that weave the fabric of childhood together. Let’s not miss out on the chance to be part of the little moments that make life’s biggest memories. Quality time is grown in the presence of quantity time. And these are the days of just that, so enjoy.

You’ve probably heard that kids spell love ‘p-l-a-y.’ And if you’ve spent any amount of time on the floor engaging in imaginative play with a child, you know it's true! Ditching a chore for time with your kids can feel daunting given the pile of laundry and tasks needing attention. But I have good news! All it takes is 10 minutes. Ten minutes of your undivided attention, where you get to ask, ‘What would YOU like to do?’. To them, this feels like the gates of Disneyland have opened up to them! This quality time is child-led, so let your guard down, be silly and playful, and go with the flow. Be sure to get down on their level, sit or lay on the floor, look into their eyes, and really get into it - whatever it is! It will mean the world to them and you! If you can do 10 minutes of undivided attention quality time with each of your kids daily  you may be surprised at how many behavioral issues melt away!

Phone-Free Time

Speaking of undivided attention, it’s hard to come by when we are constantly accessible through our phones. We have the ability to be constantly productive or connected to the outside world. Let’s have an honest-guilt free moment to think about it. How often are we making ourselves fully available to our children? Are we constantly  multitasking? I know I could do better at this. In The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, John Mark Comer has several suggestions of how to ‘dumb down’ your phone, or at least make it less invasive to your home life. Maybe check some of those out and give them a try. I personally love the shortcut that turns my phone to black and white only at the click of a button. Without all the colors and visual stimulation, I get bored and stop scrolling without even thinking about it! When we put our phones down, our hands and gaze are free to embrace what is right in front of us - our kids!
Read Aloud  

No matter how old your children are, they are the perfect age to be read aloud to. Reading aloud to your children has countless benefits, ranging from educational gains to lasting connections through shared experiences.. In ‘The Read-Aloud Family’, Sarah Mackenzie says “We read with our children because it gives both them and us an education of the heart and mind. Of intellect and empathy. We read together and learn because stories teach us how to love.” When you journey through stories on every spot of the emotional spectrum, it’s as if you have lived it together. A whole world comes alive between you, and you’ve experienced it together. So pull out those books, pop a bag of popcorn or a sheet of cookies into the oven, and READ! Check out @Lovingleadinglittles and @Brighterdaypress if you need some age-appropriate book ideas.

Share Meals

Never underestimate the power of sitting down around the table together. There’s nothing new under the sun, and this is one of those tried and true ways of connection. Something about acknowledging our humanity in needing to refuel with food and fellowship is bonding. Here are a few tips to maximize your table talk: play background music to set the tone, keep it a phone-free zone, and model and encourage listening and responding as you ask intentional questions. Vague questions like ‘How was your day?’ are well-meaning but can be tricky to answer, especially for little ones if emotions are tangled up. Try asking, ‘What was the best part of your day?’ ‘What was the trickiest part of your day?’ We like going around and allowing everyone to share their highs and lows for the day. Check out some more conversation starters below, or grab a set of these family conversation starter cards

  • What happened today that was unexpected? 
  • What did you learn about yourself today? 
  • Who did you enjoy today? 
  • What made you feel cared for today? 
  • What is something you want to work to be better at? 
  • What was most exciting about today? 
  • What is something that you did really well today? 

In the end, we want to look back on our time with our children and know that we loved them well and did everything we could to invest in the relationship as parent to child. Let us encourage you that you are doing really well! Your efforts to love on your littles, the seen and the unseen, are felt. And we think that’s pretty amazing! Cheers to you building a deeper connection with your kiddos!