15 Ways to Connect With Your Son or Daughter In Less Than a Minute

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In busyness of everyday life, it is easy to lose your connection with your family members.  With meals to cook, children to walk to school, groceries to buy, and toilets to clean, we can easily lose our closeness with our children and our spouse.  With the advent of screens, the disconnect is even more palpable with everyone doing their own thing on their own device.  Even if children are not on their devices or do not use devices at all, parents are on them.  This article will focus on ways for you to reconnect with your son or daughter in less than a minute, although the activities will keep you engaged longer than that.  


  1. Pursue a hobby together.  My son and I are doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu together (though not in the same class, of course).  This gives us something to talk about, and it helps us to connect on a physical level.  The physical contact also helps work out the issues and stresses of the day.  Somehow when we’re focused on our hobby, the cares of the day melt away.  Our shared hobby gives us a shared jargon as well.  My oldest is more on the quiet side, so the shared terms of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu give us language in place to begin a conversation.  A sample dialogue may go something like this, Dad: “what did you work on today?”  Son: “we worked on bridging to get someone off of you who has the full mount position.”  Dad: “what do you do after you bridge and get them off of you?”  Son: “you have to roll up on them and quickly get side control, and from there you can mount them.”  We are happy talking about it, but our conversation naturally turns physical and I have him demonstrate the moves on me.  
  2. Wrestling.  Our hobby above makes a nice segue into the next way to connect with your child.  I never realized what I had done with my dad and grandpa is highly beneficial.  In one my favorite parenting books, Lawrence Cohen advocates for good old fashioned roughhousing and wrestling with plenty of studies to back up his enthusiasm.  You can get the book on Amazon (see especially chapter 6).  When I am wrestling with one of my children what normally happens is that my other children see that dad is on his back, or is at least low enough to the ground to climb upon, and seize the moment.  My youngest loves to do “knee on belly,” which performed exactly as it sounds.  He has good balance in that position and becomes very proud of himself.  Wrestling builds self-confidence.  Wrestling gives me copious opportunities to hug and kiss them.
  3. Ask questions.  The more specific your question, the more your son will have opportunities to open up about whatever’s on his mind.  Instead of simply asking, “how was your day?”  We have a chance to be more specific and ask something like, “what fun activity did you do in gym class today?”  Or, “what funny thing did your teacher do/say today?”  And, “what’s the hardest part of that piano piece you’re working on?”
  4.  Get down on the floor and play.  I find this to be crucial with my daughter.  Whether we are wrestling or playing with her little doll house and dolls, it’s best if I’m on the floor with her joining in her world.  Then I am able to speak her language and play according to the “rules” of the world she created.  I got a doll house specifically for this purpose.  Here it is on Amazon if you’d like to take a look at it.
  5. Draw.  I am one of the worst illustrators that I know.  My children have more style, artistic sense, and grace than I do when it comes to drawing.  That doesn’t stop me from drawing with them.  We get out our pencils and have a good time writing our three sentence journals about our day.  We also have a contest on who can fill in an entire blank page with pencil or crayon without leaving any white visible.  The darker and more filled-in the better!
  6. Read.  Reading has given me more satisfaction as an adult than any other skill I learned in elementary school.  It’s one of my favorite hobbies. I want my children to share in the joy of reading with me.  We have daily reading sessions.  My son reads to me and his younger siblings almost daily.  My daughter isn’t reading on her own yet, but we get wordless books so she can create language to tell a story.  My daughter is verbose when she gets going, so this book (Amazon link) gives her a great challenge.  The best part about wordless books?  Your kids will never tell the same story twice!
  7. Pray.  Praying with my children (in addition to for my children) has connected me to them in ways that everyday conversation cannot.  We have a short prayer time in the morning and before bed.  When we pray, we come before God and remember who he is, and then we ask for his help.  I often ask them what area of their lives do they want me to pray for.  My son asked me for wisdom to help his teacher in the classroom.  My daughter asked that I tell her a long story before bed.  We humbly bring our requests before God together, remembering who he is.  We pray for big things, we pray for little things.  We pray and the peace of God comes to us.
  8. Hide and Seek.  I love playing hide and seek.  I often pretend to become exhausted looking for my hiding children, and then start looking for a place to rest my weary bones.  The place I rest is where they are hiding (I sit right on them, pretending not to notice they are there).  I pretend to be surprised that they are there when I was only innocently finding a place to rest.  We always get plenty of laughs out of this one.  I also pretend to give up looking and lie down to sleep near where they are hiding.  Then, when they come out of hiding and try to wake me up we start wrestling!
  9. Cooking.  I’ve involved my children with the preparation and cooking of our dinner since our oldest was three.  We already connect while eating together.  Cooking together binds us in a special way.  We are working together for the same goal–dinner!  My daughter loves cutting garlic cloves.  My son loves cutting bell peppers.  They both love opening canned tomatoes with the can opener (so I tend to get two 14.5 oz. cans of tomatoes instead of the 29 oz. version).  My son also loves to be a part of the process in his lunch planning.  He fills up his lunch bots (amazon) with select foods, which he then puts in his lunch bag.
  10. Seasonal outdoor beautification work.  In the winter this would include shoveling.  In autumn this would include raking.  In summer this would include gardening and mowing the lawn.  In the spring this involves spreading grass seed and planting flowers.  We are all members of a household; therefore, we all work together to make it beautiful.  This also stretches into citizenship.  We are in effect beautifying our neighborhood by doing basic cleanup of our outdoor space.  This citizenship experience becomes more visible when after shoveling our sidewalk, we see someone pushing a stroller in front of our house or see a senior citizen out for a winter stroll.  It warms our hearts to see that our labor was not in vain.  We are helping our neighbors get fresh air while keeping them safe.  Outdoor work benefits us as well.  We get exercise, and we get to work together for a common goal.  We can also identify issues that arise outside, such as big cracks in the sidewalks.  Our children then keep me accountable to fix the issues, or make sure to call the city to have them fix it (in the case of the sidewalk).
  11. Indoor 5 Minute Cleanup.  Any house with children dwelling in it will get messy fast.  My kids are pretty good about putting things away, but when they’re really engaged in an activity they take out a lot of items.  For example, when my two oldest play school they take out all their dolls and stuffed animals and line them up.  They become the “students.”  They often play this game for close to an hour.  Then it may be time for dinner or time to brush their teeth or time to go to church.  So, we may not be able to clean up until later that day or the next morning.  Or maybe we had people over for a meal, which required a second load of dishes to be done–this may throw our normal tidying up schedule out of whack.  In any of these cases one of us may call out, “5 minute cleanup!” and we will all pitch in.  This is assuming they are not engaged in serious play or other required activity like taking a bath.
  12. Storytelling with Props.  I have so much fun at storytelling time in our house.  This takes a different skill than simply reading a book with feeling.  You are essentially telling a story that you create.  I have our children tell a story too.  I only had them begin to tell me stories after I had told them several stories.  We use props.  Props help orient the children especially.  Props are quite helpful for quieter children.  If they get stuck in their storytelling, they have a prop to help them along.  Here are some of the props we use, which can all be found on Amazon: aUnfinished small wood dolls.  These are great as they are, or you could paint them with your children!  I also prefer something like this as opposed to commercial dolls.  Since these dolls are “blank” your child brings her own story to the doll.  There is no preconceived story with these dolls, and there is no limit to the imagination your child will bring to the story.  bGlockenspiel.  This glockenspiel makes an enchanting and magical sound.  We use this at the beginning of our story and at the end, and for any transition that needs to be made during the story.  It’s also useful for “sound effects” such as when one of the dolls are waking up.  cPlay scarves.  These take creativity and imagination to employ.  Quite simply, we use them as scenery.  We also use them as a theater curtain to separate the acts of our story.  d.  Wood blocks.  These versatile blocks also make up a big part of our scenery in the background.  e.  Leaves, flowers, sticks, pine cones, acorns, etc.  Anything you find at the park or in the woods can be incorporated in your story!  Make a path, or create your own woods next to the little house you build with the blocks.  f.  Magna tiles.  We also use magna tiles for scenery building, although that occurs more often when they have already been playing with them.
  13. Escape the Hold.  This is something more specific than general wrestling.  Your child gets you into a hold or a “lock” and you try to escape within a certain amount of time.  If you can’t get out, time is called and your child gets to put you in another hold.  When I put a lock on my children, I make it just challenging enough for them.  I also make a game out of it saying something like, “Are you ready for the most indestructible lock known in the world?  You will never get out of this one!”  I am naturally incredulous when they are able to get out.  “That’s impossible!  How were you able to escape?  What’s your secret?  Tell me.  I guess I’ll have to get an even more indestructible lock!”
  14. Bike Ride.  There is nothing more fun than a bike ride with your children.  Find a safe place to ride and have fun with it.  Bring some cones to build a challenging course and then time each other.
  15. Sledding.  This may not be an option for people in warmer areas.  There are not too many other activities on this earth that are more pure fun than sledding.  Sledding is a fast way to connect with your children.  Whether you sled in the same sled, or race each other down the hill, or build a jump mid-slope, the joy you share will build connections and memories that will last a lifetime.