The best things in life are free!
Memorable days with your child needn’t cost the earth and often hold a lot more value when you use a little imagination and are prepared to step out of your comfort zone.
Here are 7 ways you can connect with your child, honor their unique self-expression and strengthen the parent-child bond without spending any money.
1. Let them dress you up and style your hair.
And if that’s not your thing, then they there’s always a massage, giving dad a shave or painting mom’s nails!
This exercise offers both parent and child the opportunity to tap into each other’s experience. Parents are reminded how it feels to have their hair yanked while being brushed or told what is and isn’t acceptable to wear. Children discover that taking care of others requires patience and kindness.
This activity allows us to reconnect with empathy and invites us to slow down and be fully present.
2. Play restaurant and make a menu or write a recipe book.
This is a wonderful opportunity to develop natural reading and math skills. Perhaps you have some special family recipes you can make together or pop in a home made recipe book. Use the internet to search for new healthy, yummy recipes to cook for your loved ones. Who knows, they may even become the new family favorites!
3. Let them “redecorate” a room in your home.
Does this activity sound challenging for you? Does your body tense thinking about your child controlling the ambiance of the home for one day? If so, this is a great opportunity to relax a bit and prove that you don’t have to be in control to have fun!
4. Let them be mommy or daddy for the day.
They get to choose the menu and special activities! Remember that each sibling has their own day.
For this activity to be most successful it must be entertained within clearly understood rules and boundaries that are well established. Are the rules in your home clear, well defined and consistently enforced? It is hard for your child to know what is and isn’t acceptable without clearly defined boundaries.
This is a wonderful opportunity to see how children perceive their mommy or daddy, so be aware of how your children mimic you.
5. Play car wash.
Though your car may not be perfectly washed, it will be cleaner than when you started, but a word of caution, be prepared to get a little (or a lot) wet! 🙂
This bonding experience gently teaches your child the joy of completing those arduous tasks we all like to avoid. Plus, it’ll get your bodies moving!
If you don’t own a car or have the ability to wash it, choose another task to joyfully complete together. Clean out the refrigerator and scrub every corner. Put on some music and “dance your bathroom clean”. Remember what you’re hoping to accomplish with your children by cleaning together ~ connection, follow through, turning a pedestrian task into a joyful experience and the satisfaction of a job well done.
6. Get some fresh air.
Outdoor activities are great for everyone’s mental health and also helps burn off excess energy. Consider walking the dog together, go for a bike ride, have a game of catch or simply savor a few quiet moments in nature.
7. Co-tell a story together.
Take turns filling in each other sentences. “Two explorers were venturing through the forest and all of a sudden…” (let your child guide what comes next).
This is one of my favorite games to play with children, anywhere and anytime! It is a wonderful way to pass time standing in line, waiting in a restaurant or while savoring a snuggle on the sofa. The older your children are, the more you can ‘see’ into their world through their contributions to the story.
These strategies work because they allow children to feel seen, honored, valued, important, worthy and most of all, empowered. If you go through “the motions” with your child but your energy does not “match”, then these techniques will be unsuccessful in facilitating connection. Get playful with your child, giving them free reign of expression and creativity even if it isn’t “your way”.
Remember, what children crave more than anything (yes, even more than a new iPhone) is loving, non-judgmental presence from the adults in their lives.
Author: Melissa Schwartz of Leading Edge Parenting
Melissa was born an intense, sensitive, power seeking soul. Her passion for giving a ‘voice’ to the legitimate needs of children naturally evolved into becoming the co-creator of Leading Edge Parenting’s programs and collaborator of “Authentic Parenting Power”. Her greatest joy is offering parents of highly sensitive children the wisdom to handle daily challenges in an emotionally healthy way.