100% Real Juice: How to build a life-long relationship with our children

Ultimately, a lot of us would agree that connection with our kids is the end goal. Connection is the gateway to every lesson and value we want to instill in the next generation. But in the midst of a never-ending to-do list and emotions that are difficult to understand and navigate, how do we even go about connecting in a way that lasts? You’re not alone in wanting to do this! We’re here to link arms with you and set out to do the very best that we can! Here are 6 simple ways you can connect with your children today, and every day! 

🧡 Know Their Love Language 🧡

Have you heard of this before? Gary Chapman wrote a great book on The Five Love Languages and how different people express and receive love differently. The 5 languages of love are quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, and physical touch. When we take time to really see our children 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 a tool like this 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 moving on 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 around 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 those. Quality time is often found in the presence of quantity time. And these are the days of just that, so ENJOY! 

🧡 Play 🧡

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 that it’s true! This can feel daunting given the pile of laundry and tasks needing attention, or to anyone who doesn’t particularly enjoy toddler play. 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 been 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’re able to do 10 minutes of undivided attention quality time of each of your kids per day, you may even 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 just have an honest-guilt free moment to think about it… How often are we making ourselves fully available to our children? Are we always 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 to 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 honestly get bored and stop scrolling without even thinking about it! When we put our phones down, our hands and our 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. And there are countless benefits of reading aloud to your children 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. Conversations evolve naturally and time together is desired. 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. A few tips to maximize your table talk- play some background music to set the tone, keep it a phone-free zone, model and encourage listening and responding as you ask zoomed-in 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 in it. Try asking things like ‘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 high and low 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. That we 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!