25 Ways to Just Be with your Children

25 Ways to Just Be with your Children

It’s not easy being a parent. No matter if you work outside the home, inside the home. No matter if you have one, two, three or fifteen children. No matter if you have a small house in a big city or a big house in a small city. No matter if you have money or very little money.

Raising children is hard work — at least it is if you are doing it right.

It’s really no wonder parents are spending more time than ever checking in on Facebook, smart phones, or doing project after project after project. It helps to have something to do rather than sit around and dwell on all the stuff we want to be able to do or used to be able to do but no longer can. This self-medicating with social media is harmful.

And yet our children don’t care how fancy we are as parents, or how many messages we get in an hour about our blog. The smaller they are the more they need us. The bigger they are, the more they need us. Sometimes, the more they need us, the more we want to slink away and find some blanket to crawl under. But it doesn’t have to feel that way.

Breaks for parents are absolutely essential. Absolutely.

But sometimes you need to just be with your children.

There is a time and place for media and screens and technology. And there is a time and place for NO media and NO screens. It’s about being conscious, as a parent and a human being, about when and how we are turning to the computer or TV for simply boredom or laziness or seriously trying to avoid our lives.

To truly be awake to this life — these fleeting 18 years — we have but one choice to make each day: embrace our blessings and honor those around us. Practicing mindful choices each day is something that we have to model for our children or else they, too, will end up staring at screens all too much in their own life (like that picture above!).

There are many ways that you can just be with your children that are not hard work, that are not challenging or tiresome. By just being there, you may discover that your child will reach out to you simply because you are suddenly available.

The magic in this list is that it’s just simply being together and playing together for a solid half hour or so but it offers up the most beneficial memories we can offer to children.

25 Ways to Just Be with your Children

Here are some of our family’s favorite ways to just be with your children:

  • Turn off the TV/computer/phones for one hour. (In our house, we limit daily screen time to a total of one hour except on movie nights).
  • Have a work hour — they do homework and you work on a hobby like art or reading while sitting at the same table.
  • Just listen to music. At our house, we call this a dance party.
  • Light a candle for your children — one each.
  • Surprise them with a celebration for trying hard on a test or homework and eat store bought cookies and milk.
  • Sit on the couch while they play and read magazines. They will sit next to you eventually and ask, “Whatcha reading?”
  • Grab two balls and challenge everyone to find something fun to do with them outside.
  • Snuggle under a blanket or put a puzzle together.
  • Whip up a nice bowl of ice cream and laugh while you eat it.
  • Watch TV with them if they insist on watching.
  • Ask them open-ended questions about their day.
  • Tell them something surprising about your day.
  • Draw together, taking turns adding new lines on the same paper.
  • Take a drive, taking turns picking the direction and sitting in silence as the unfamiliar landscape passes you by.
  • Look at their baby photos.
  • Tell them a funny story from their younger days.
  • Tell them a funny story from your own childhood.
  • In fact, tell them any story you can think of telling.
  • Ask them to teach you how to do something. This is big. Very big.
  • Ask them questions about their favorite things.
  • Help them clean their room or the basement or the garage. Whatever. Lend a hand.
  • Ask them for help with a problem.
  • Hold a family meeting to just catch up.
  • Announce that there will be no cleaning for just one day.
  • Give them a coupon for a hug to use anytime they need it.

What kinds of things do you like to do with our family to just relax and be together with little expectations? Are you trying to encourage a Playful Family?

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236 Responses to 25 Ways to Just Be with your Children

  1. This is an awesome post, and something we all need to keep in mind. “The days are long, but the years are short,” and sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the “stuff” of everyday life and not stop and enjoy it. We also limit “screen time” to one hour a day in our house, and I have had to come up with creative ways to encourage my 4YO to do things that do not involve a screen when her older sister is at school and the younger one is napping. Too often, I end up feeling “harassed” by her when she is just trying to get attention from me, the only person there! Today, I finally used one of the ideas I got from Pinterest, and I got some supplies to do some simple sewing project. She sat beside me and sewed on a plastic canvas with embroidery thread for an hour while I mended clothes that had been waiting on me to get around to them for WEEKS! It was a great way to spend an afternoon, and a reminder that all too soon she will be joining her sister at school and this time will be behind me and I will be wishing for it back. Thanks for more great ideas I will be pinning your list for future reference!

    • Steph — thank you for your project. I am a BIG fan of doing things along side my kids. I do a lot of writing right beside them, with them and I use their energy to give me inspiration. I’m glad you found sewing as a mutual project so you could be together — and be productive! The best feeling in the world as a parent, if you ask me. : )

  2. I find the best moments spent with my daughter are weekends when she crawls into bed with me in the mornings. When my husband goes to take a shower we just lay there and talk about everything under the sun.

  3. WOW! WOW! WOW! As I read this, I celebrate this new friend I now have in my life who articulates the words on my very soul. Thank you for the beautiful, encouraging way you present ways to connect with our loved ones.

    Your list is OUTSTANDING. It is simple, yet the actions will produce powerful results. Just yesterday I surprised my 5 y.o. at school lunch. We sat outside alone on the patio. I brought several Shutterfly albums from past years. She ate, I turned the pages, and we laughed. For that lovely 25 minutes, I was reminded how quickly time passes me by. I was so thankful for that moment with her.

    I will be sharing this AWESOME post on “The Hands Free Revolution” this week! YOU ROCK!

    • YOU were the inspiration of this post that had been forming in my mind for a while but hadn’t taken shape … so thank you!! That lunch idea is a great one and I need to do that. I let the fact that I have twins hold me up from visiting them for lunch but perhaps I should explain to them ahead of time that I need to visit one at a time, to have that solo experience. They may understand that. May. : )

  4. I love this!!! Some we do, some are new ( love that!!) we also tell stories where one of us starts and the others fill in the blanks. Just random: “Once upon a time there lived a little girl named….(let the kids fill it in) and also a boy named… And their favorite place to go was… And at the _____ they saw a beautiful …, etc. my kids just love it! It gets their creative minds flowing too.

    • Great ideas! I’m actually working on a post for Friday about storytelling … I’ll be sure to incorporate your ideas (with credit!) Happy to know you found some new ideas. I love new ideas, too.

  5. Absolutely in love with this post. I cannot wait to have my children teach me something! As a family we decided to have a family date day at least once a month, no phones or computers allowed. One of the best decisions we have ever made. Thank you so much for the great ideas!!

  6. I don’t think we do enough of it sometimes, but games are big at our house. Sometimes we leave the TV on to a music channel, but we just play together. We take turns choosing the game, and have a lot of fun. It’s a much better way to build sibling bonds than just saying “Go play with your sister.”

  7. Wow, what a great blog. I love the list. Thank you so much for sharing. We sometimes play guessing games whilst we are eating or just share a funny thing that happened to us that day.
    Thanks again

  8. I’m happy to see that I regularly do most of the items on your list — I have two children, yet due to my divorce, I only have them half the time (two weeks on, two weeks off) … so every moment with them is ESPECIALLY special! :)

    And for those of you who have your kids all the time: Cherish that ability. It is an amazing gift.

  9. Thanks for sharing this! I’m a young (24 y/o) working mom to a little kindergartener and I always feel like I’m not doing enough for him or with him. This post made me see that I’m already doing a lot of little quality things with him even though we aren’t attached at the hip all day long! You even gave me some great ideas to add to our special time together!


    • Sara — You are definitely doing enough. All these blogs about crafts and art projects … seriously, they are great now and then but ultimately just being there is all we have to do, especially as working moms! I am one, too!!

  10. hello, there,

    yes, telling children stories is usually effective. they prefer if the same are told in an interesting and spontaneous manner. they even remember some of them when they’re not glued to computer or cellphone screens. :)

    you’re right. engaging young people could be more difficult these days but once you get them into the habit of up, close and personal (not technology-mediated) interactions, they still find those activities interesting. just my thoughts…^^

    regards and congrats on being FP! :)

  11. What a beautiful post! Your ideas are sweet and sure to please. :) Sounds like you are a great mom, with all your priorities right where they should be. This line, “By just being there, you may discover that your child will reach out to you simply because you are suddenly available” is the best reason you could give for being present as a parent. Wonderfully said. (And congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!)

  12. Would you believe watching “Finding Bigfoot” together? The kids love this program while my husband scoffs the entire time. All I care is that all of us are cuddling on the couch under a blanket and having a good time.

  13. One of my happiest days with my children was inspired by a power outage. This is a lovely article with thoughtful suggestions to help parents celebrate this fleeting time of childhood.

    • i agree with paul…tv in moderation…it’s hard to transition if a family isn’t use to it (read: parents use to kids wanting to do more things) but worth it. i think it’s encouraging our kids to be closer too.

  14. Your #1 really is #1. I find if the tv and video games are off my kids and I are almost forced into having fun together. Such a good thing.

  15. I love, love, love this post! I have 3 little girls, and sometimes I have to remind myself to just get away from what I’m doing and spend time with them. REAL time together. Great list!

  16. All great suggestions. I especially liked #19 ‘Ask them to show you how to do something.’ Oh wow, will that ever make them feel great! Yes, those 18 years fly by fast, before you know it, they’re in school all day–a baby no more! Then graduation, leaving home, and then, they have their own family that they are busy with. Life goes by fast, love your children!

  17. I love this list. It can be so helpful to have concrete ideas rather than vague suggestions. I made a commitment to listen when my kids asked for me to spend time with them. Some days I do better than others. I try and tell myself that whatever I am doing is something that can wait 10 or 15 minutes. I can fully commit to that amount of time, and if playtime last longer, great! It’s not always easy to be present, but it is worth it!

  18. All great ideas ! We restrict screen time to weekends, weekdays are usually too busy even if we wanted to let them …..One of our favorites is to turn up the music while making dinner, I sing, they dance!

  19. 26. Threaten them with getting kicked out if they don’t spend time with you and tell you you’re beautiful and wonderful EVERY DAY.

    Everyone wins!

  20. I loved reading this post. I’m not a parent yet, but when I eventually do have children, I would definitely want to do all those things with them – just like my parents always did with us. It makes the world of a difference having parents who are present and involved, and the relationship with them only gets stronger and stronger with time and age. Truly lovely post – congrats on being freshly pressed!

  21. I think that being a kid now-a-days is much different than when I was a kid, or my mom, etc. The internet definitely puts a different spin on things and I think that your list is a great way to connect past having a computer screen and to have special ‘family time’ together.

  22. I still dreamed of the days (not long ago) that we simply live with not much distractions. If parents are worried about the harm that their children can get from their surrounding people in the neighboourhood, now with the advancement of internet and social media at such young age, we as parents will have the whole world as prospective foes. You nailed hard on the fact that we thought that the children are now becoming screenagers (vs teenagers) only to find out that the parents are in turn using the internet and social media to “escape”. Addictions (to whatever) always have this as root cause: to detach the users or abusers from reality. This is a very timely article, and thank you for writing this.

  23. This is wonderful advice, I have so much anxiety about how I am conditioning my children as I was conditioned. Thank you for this post, I really enjoyed it as a beautiful reminder to be PRESENT in my children’s lives.

  24. “Raising children is hard work — at least it is if you are doing it right.”
    No wonder this was Freshly Pressed! Great post. As a parent, I loved it!
    As a blogger, I’m envious.

  25. Thanks for these great ideas. It seems like it should be so easy… to spend time with my kids, but sometimes it is hard to just focus on them and leave my other projects alone!

    One thing I like to do is take one of my children at a time to a coffee shop, we sit and have a “coffee” (hot chocolate or apple cider), and chat about preschool and things that are important to them. My kids are 3 and 4, and I am constantly amazed how grown up they are getting, it takes spending time with them to realize that, and to continually get to know them and how they are changing!

  26. You’re so on target. I’m not ashamed to say I’m a late bloomer with my son, who’s 7. The first few years of his life, I didn’t get this “parenting” thing. Where was the deep satisfaction that comes with being a caregiver? I loved him desperately. But connecting more deeply was difficult.
    Now, he is my best buddy. We talk all the time. We do crafts and draw together. We invented superhero alter-egos called “Supermom” and “Superson”. We talk about books and dreams.
    Thank you for all the suggestions; I’m certainly going to try the ones I haven’t thought of. It’s really these simple things that make all the difference.

  27. Thank you for this post! I work outside the home, and when I get home I have to remind myself to turn off the tv and ENGAGE with my boys- so they ENGAGE with others! :)

  28. Thank you for this post! I recently deactivated my facebook account because it was such a negative influence in my life. I hope this post makes everyone who reads it walk away a more present person. Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  29. thoughtful list! would love to add “take time to listen to our kids”. it’s amazing what we learn and in such a short period of time. we are so busy completing our myriad of tasks throughout the day, as parents we rarely take the time to listen to our kids or take the time to be curious about their point of view.. and then we wonder why they won’t listen to us or be interested in our point of view :)

    great reminders for us all. thanks!

  30. Lovely post…it reminds me how I was with my kids when they were younger and thank goodness most of that time I neither had a mobile nor in fact internet. :-) It also is a great reminder now – having mostly been a stay at home mum – that I have done one of the most important and most creative jobs of all: raising my kids! (even if it means now that they are older and not long to go before No 2 leaves home I have to redefine myself and find new exciting things to do with my life and battle the stereotypes…).

  31. We totally do the dance party! We have children ages 3 to 17. The youngest 4 we recently took in (and are on the road to adopting), and blending these two sibling groups isn’t always easy, but one thing that never fails to make the night fun is some cranked up music and feet moving all around the floor!

  32. Excellent! As a young (busy) father of SIX…this is CRITICALLY important for our family!!!

    Have you ever read the book Loving Our Kids On Purpose by Danny Silk? If not…it’s WORTH it! One of the BEST books I’ve ever read (and not jut on parenting!).

    Thank you!

  33. I love to throw an old blanket down in the front yard and have a picnic lunch or snack. It’s a wonderful yet simple way to spend screen-free time while enjoying the weather. That is actually how we’ve met most of our neighbors!

    Thank you for sharing this inspiration.

  34. Thank YOU for this post! And congrats on being Freshly Pressed. It’s so funny how you can achieve all of this, just by doing the first one on your list (turning off the TV/computer/phone. It’s a daily challenge in our home. But I can attest, the TRUE moments when you’re awesomely awake as a Mom…those are the most fun and memorable ones (for you AND your child!). LOVE IT! I’ll be adding your blog to my blog roll…thanks again!

  35. I love this post, I get so caught up in day to day routinue sometimes that I forget to stop and take time out to just enjoy being with my kids. We do do some of the stuff on your list, but not nearly often enough. I like the idea of aiming for an hour a day to do something fun with them!

  36. going to become a mother in about a month and a half for the first time and looking forward to having these screen-free times with my child… also looking forward to reading your blog in the future! Thanks~

    • Good luck to you … that first year is a whirlwind and the first couple of years challenging but then it just flies by and you want it all to slow. down.

  37. love this. It is a daunting task this thing called parenthood, but you can weather it out by engaging your children and being engaged by them. I am not perfect but I do try most of the 25 activities mentioned here. My babies are 3 and 19 mos and they are quite the handful. Thank you for sharing.

  38. Thank you! This is a great post. Love the list of suggestions. The time we spend with our children is not only good for them but for us too! Precious. : )

  39. Wonderful post and some great ideas. And if I could suggest a #26 (works better on older children);

    Drive them through your childhood.
    When my children were teenagers I invited each of them, one at a time, to take a ride with me one summer. Each time we would drive areas of significance to me as I grew up; my hometown, my schools and churches, small towns that their ancestors used to live in. As we drove I told them about my childhood and what it was like in that place we were driving through. It only took half a day each time. It must have meant something because my son, who is now 26 and recently married, dropped by one Sunday with his new bride and said “dad, could we all take a ride?”

  40. I love this! I write a blog talking about the issues the urban youth of Rochester, NY face. So many of them talk about how their parents are there- physically and emotionally. I think some parents have just forgotten how to do this. Kudos to you for reteaching us how to do it in a straightforward way that’s not condescending at all! We have to remember though children will always need their parents. I’m 18 and when i have a stomach ache i still crawl into my mommy’s arms :)

    • Tianna — Thank you for reading and connecting. I see a lot of those parents you are talking about in my day job. My only mission is to let ALL parents know that this is hard, we have every right to be tired and grumpy — just not in front of our kids. Well, most of the time. ; )

  41. I really like this post. And I loved all those ways. My son is 3,5 and a handfull but he is the sunshine of my life. And reading through your post, I got reminded even more how much he means to me. Thanks for sharing!

  42. What we try to do every night is “What’s your favorite part of the day?” When we all sit down at the table and eat dinner I ask them this question. I’ve done it since there were 7 and 4. It’s wonderful! And some of the odd little things I’ve learned about what they love, I’d have never guessed! And now that they are 15, 12, and (we now have a one year old too) I ask them what they learned today also. The baby is still too little but I’m sure by the time she 2 she’ll answer too. :-)
    That’s the other thing we go it FUN FRIDAY!!! Every Friday (but in Dec) we go out and get a new book from our local indie book store and ice cream. This is our kids favorite treat!!! It is a little costly, but if a person uses the library it doesn’t have to be.
    We have no TV, but we do have Netflix. I don’t like TV very much. When my 15 was 4 and we were visiting with my grandparents (9-11 JUST happened) they were watching the news (as all the US was) and my sweet child saw a man jump… she turned to me with watery eyes and asked if he knew he was going to die. My heart swelled with pain. We left just a few minutes later. I returned our cable box that day, and I have never ever been sorry I did. My kids are never worried about a missed show or fight over what to watch. And most of the time they’d rather read.

    • Sarah — that is quite a story and probably a lot of why I do not watch TV myself. We also have Netflix, but I do let the girls watch PBS or Sprout. I wonder how long that will be possible to shield them from the terrible programming on the rest of the channels. ; ) Love the book and ice cream idea on Fridays. Great tradition!!

  43. Great stuff! I Worl 7p-7a and needed ways to integrate time with my 3 year old that require no energy! lol for the days I work anyway!! However, I like to take him and the puppies to the park on Sunday’s! This is a nice way to get out of the house after being locked in all weekend!

  44. Love this post! Tonight, snack-time will be in mommy and daddy’s bed ( they love hanging out there) talking about our day. No TV!!! Thanks for the eye opener.

  45. Aww this is so beautiful. I think it also goes for how you interact with loved ones other than children. So many relationships are missing more of these quality moments that don’t include being glued to the Blackberry or laptop.

  46. Love the post!

    One thing I really like is doing family dinners – we do 5 nights out of the week (though since we started it, we usually end up doing more). Even if it’s rushed it gets everyone sitting, facing each other with no distractions.

    I have also started a game night with just me and my 5 year-old. We’ve mastered War, Go Fish, Candyland, Lego Pirates, and we’ve moved on to learning Egyptian War. Still working on not throwing a tantrum when we lose, but we’re making progress :)

    • Big here on game nights. And, family dinners are just dinners here at our house. : ) But, we get pretty cranky when we have to miss one, which does happen on occasion do to working schedules. Thanks for sharing you ideas. Who throws the tantrums, you or your 5 yr old? LOL

  47. Good post. Having a very fussy 7 month old, I know how hard it can be to spend time with your child. It is getting easier though.


    • Dave — Fussy babies aside, the whole ordeal is pretty incredible. But, I had two fussy babies at once, so I get it. Hang in there! We did a lot of walking at that time. Just get outside.

  48. Wonderful ideas!
    I have very strong beliefs about the effects of social media on our children. It’s nice to read that there are others who can see how important it is for us to get “back to reality time ” with our children, free of technology. We cannot deny them nature, nurturing, creativity, hands on experiences , conversation and laughter.

  49. We do not have TV, but we are bad about the computer. This blog post is JUST what I needed today! I just had my first son as an older mom, and he is now almost 8 months old. Some days I get bored playing with him, and your post reminded me that he can teach me so many things about myself! We have not found too many family things since he is so young, but here are a few of our favorites:
    Roasting hot dogs and marshmallows in the fire pit in the back yard,
    Bath time- my husband and I roll our pants up and stick our feet in while he is in the tub- he loves it!
    My husband sits with him on his lap and reads his magazines, but reads out loud in a very silly voice
    When we are really getting stir crazy, we like to hike out into the woods for the day, have a little camp fire, and just sit. My son loves it!

    Anyway, thank you so much for the little reminder about a very big thin- enjoying every moment that I can with my husband and my son!


    • Megan — When my girls were that young, Facebook didn’t even exist!!?? Can you imagine? I think I might have been addicted to it but I did start a blog then and that kept me company. When they are that young, just take a lot of walks together and enjoy the fresh air, even when it’s cold outside. Hang in there. It does get easier (and I never believed that either.) Your bathtime idea is super fun .. have you tried putting glow sticks in the water yet? That’s a fun one for when he’s a bit older.

  50. This is lovely. I personally find it very hard to spend time just being, I always feel I have to be doing, even if the stuff I’m doing is meaningless. Thanks for sharing and reminding, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  51. When children grow older, they don’t actually need their parents that much anymore. All too often, parents find it hard to come to terms with it- especially “responsible” parents. At some point, from the perspective of a 19-year-old, it is absolutely beneficial and important to let go and make children stand on their feet, while keeping an eye on them.

    • Absolutely … but a 19 year old is no longer a child. Simply referring to children who are still home .. but I can assure you that even at my age — much older than you — I wish I could have long talks with my mom. But, at 19 — no way. : )

  52. The reason I believe that society forces us as working adults to be on travel and at the office, 12 hours a day now – and away from our children – is that if our children witnessed the abject hell we live in our careers, our children would grow up jaded and suspicious of corporations and the power elite. They would see first hand the abuse their parents undergo at the hands of the greedy, power hungry, monopolistic, whip-driven efficiency fanaticism and corrupt Crony-ism elite which has displaced the dream of small business capital economy.

    Even in high school, the hysterical cry of ‘this is what you will have to do in college so you better get used to it now’ exclaimed by busy-work and memorization minded shill instructors jaded my children to the point that they did not even want to go to college. They were taught to hate learning and laughed and saw right through the school charade. I had to work with one for over a year in order to get one of my kids to want to go to college.

    The irony is, that as I was able to spend more time with my kids and they gained an adult perspective on the integrity and genuine core I was able to maintain despite the career of control freaks and abuse, the more they laughed in the face of the fake fanaticism our society rides on.

    As we grow close to our kids, and begin to not play 1950’s style charades, they begin to rebel against our shallow and greedy substitute for a genuine life.

    I do not blame them. 8) We do not need to conquer the universe, on the backs of the American family. We need to nurture the only things which are important.

  53. […] us to edit things before publishing it; but seems like a no. So I read this article titled “25 Ways to Just Be with your children“. It kind of makes me want to have children, imagining things the writer’s favorite […]

  54. Would like to add one – try to eat dinner together as a family every night (or as often as possible). While eating – no T.V. on, no electronic devices and we do not answer the phone if it rings. If it is important they will leave a message and we will call back when we are done. Great conversations tend to happen at the the dinner table.

    • You are so right! At our house, this is a given but I am planning some posts on family meals. I cannot stand for even a radio on when we are eating … that’s just me, though. Thanks!!

      • Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Congrtaulations on being Freshly Pressed. I love your list and while I do most of them, it’s always good to be reminded, or reassured that one is doing right and can joyfully improve. I am working on a project on Mindfulness in the Everyday life (without having to retreat to a monastry in Thailand, ;-)) and my first article is on mindful eating. Take a peek when you get a chance (after answering all your fan mails, that is). I am bringing up children in a “foreign” land and even though I have mostly melted into the pot, there is always an interesting challenge that crops up – that in turn helps me don a creative hat – and ask, “What can I learn from this, what is there to love in this?”
        http://www.thewholeheartedmind.wordpress.com. I’d love to hear from you.

  55. Love your 25 ways to be with your children, Shawn. Thank you for sharing. I’m keeping them in my blog, hope you don’t mind, let me know. :)

  56. These are some great tips, and I’m insanely guilty of being on my computer way too much. Luckily my little guy isn’t born yet, he was actually due today but my girlfriend may be induced tomorrow, pretty excited. This is great though for future reference and a way to make sure that quality time with our kids is spent. Great post :-)

  57. Thank you for this beautiful message! My girls are two and 6months. I especially like number 15… even though they are still so little, I go through them and show them all the time! Life is precious

    My blog is told from my two year old’s perspective on life 😀

  58. Thank you for this beautiful message! I especially like number 15. My daughters are 2 and 6 months and I look at their baby pics all the time and show them- how proud I am of them and our family!

    My own, very new blog is written from my 2 year old’s perspective. Her 6 month old sister will be having a guest blog soon to come =D

    Thank you, once again and congrats on your successful blog. I’ll be following!

    • Thank you! Happy to have you here … and I will definitely check out your blog. I love new voices to read and learn from — as soon as I catch up with all of these comments!! ; )

  59. Beautiful post. Your family’s favorites list is really nice.
    “Raising children is hard work — at least it is if you are doing it right.” – This is statement each parent needs to realize. :)

  60. Ask them to teach you how to do something. This is big. Very big.

    My favorite. :) I asked my daughter to teach me how to do watercolor painting. She happily and dutifully obliged, even setting the whole painting set before our “class”.

  61. Congrats and what a great reminder of how fleeting time is! My kids are teens and I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. Teens need time, too! I think parents forget sometimes due to the teen ‘tude which can be challenging but they still need attention and time.

  62. Reblogged this on Chemical Fawn and commented:
    I work too much. I’ll never hit the lottery because I don’t play it, so I work. Long hours. Hours longer than they should be, but that’s another story. The pay is nice and the over time adds up quickly. But it comes with a price. I admit that it didn’t really hit me until the last year or so when my boy actually made a comment about me always having to work. That’s when you know you are working too much. Some people are so obsessed with having money in their bank account or large bills in their wallet. I just want my boy to remember the time I spent with him after I’m gone, not that I was always at work.

  63. Really enjoyed reading this post! I’m not a Mum, but hope to have that joy one day. It’s nice to read about people who have similar values to the ones I would want for any child in my care. Congrats on making Freshly Pressed too!

  64. It’s very small things but if you do the results will awesome, attachment is more important than anything else.if you gave everything but didn’t gave your love ,hug, then all is in waste.i wish every parents will give some time to their children after all money can’t buy everything.

  65. I have a 15-month old girl (my first) and as you say “if you are doing it right” it is hard work. I’m now a stay-at-home mum, but had worked full-time before motherhood. Once, an acquaintance asked, “so, what do you do when she sleeps?” implying I must be bored to death. It is difficult to explain to childless people how you only have time for things to do when a child sleeps, if you’re lucky.

    When I get tired, my husband tells me, “just savour this, her being needy.” It’s funny, though, sometimes when she’s awake I hear myself repeatedly say, “just a minute, just a minute” when I hear her call/cry. But when she’s asleep I miss her and prevent myself from waking her up and playing with her.

    Thank you for your list. My daughter is still too young for most of them but I’m saving them for future reference!

    xx from England

  66. Just stumbled on your blog and the post title caught my eye. My kids are all grown and I have a grand baby on the way, but I still cherish the time we lived with no cable or satellite, before the internet. :- ). If we wanted to watch something it was a VCR tape. The kids knew I would always want to come sit and watch with them. Even if it was Rudolph on a hot July afternoon. Time does fly by so fast. They are only little once. Take the time to enjoy it. Once they are grown the worrying doesn’t end it just goes long distance.

  67. Your blog is wonderful to me and this post even better.
    Many disturbances, crimes and psychological disturbances would not happen with your «recipe» and, perhaps, many psychotherapists would have a less burden on their shoulders, but the world woul be able to «smile» a litte better that now.
    Thank you for your collaboration for the betterness of mankind.
    Mário de Noronha

  68. Inspiring. Those list are all teasures to have for a better relationships with our kids. For me, I play with my son…Legos, Beyblade, Monopoly…read books at night even if my eyes are halfway open…its the quality of time we spent that matters…making sure each minute counts….I also dedicated the 2011 Summer just for him…and me too in a indirect way.

  69. Isn’t it amazing how as Laura Ingalls quoted many years ago and still rings true today, “It is the sweet, simple things of life that are the real ones after all.”
    I have done these things with my children and I have never regretted it.

  70. I love your post and the recognition of the fact that sometimes it’s tiring to be with our kids. Maybe we’re just plain tired from our day or maybe they love to do activities that we don’t particularly enjoy. Finding ways to spend time together without big expectations and in ways you both enjoy is crucial. It took me a while to realize that I don’t always have to be active in the activity with them, I just have to be actively caring and engaged.

    When it comes to relaxing together we’ve found lots of different things to do together. My girls love to bake. Oftentimes I’ll join them but if I’m tired, or it feels like work, then I just sit at the counter and chat with them while they do the baking.

    We also like to pile together on the couch or in the queen-size bed, burrow under some blankets and read our books. In the summer we’ll wander the shoreline of Lake Michigan and search for beach glass.

  71. We were both ‘freshly pressed’ yesterday – congratulations! It’s bizarre and humbling and a wee bit scary, don’t you think. Regarding your featured piece, as the mother of a well-adjusted, happy 15-year old daughter I have to agree with your words. We only get one shot to help them become all that they can be. I’m sure your wisdom will remind us all how important and how much of an honour it is being a parent.

    • Totally, Kellie. Totally. I was just saying on Twitter — my head is still spinning from it all. It is crazy and fun and very, very scary. : ) I hope to get around to everyone else’s today!!

  72. It’s funny how even when you are a parent who does those things, you still feel there isn’t enough time in the day with them. Time goes by too fast! One thing I have done when I do need to work from home is give the kids a camera and a scavenger hunt list and also let them explore. It’s pretty neat to see what they come up with.

  73. What a beautiful and sentimental post you wrote! I do a lot of the things already on your list. One of our favorite things to do every single day is called “cuddle time” where I just hold him in my arms and we talk about his day at school or the day in general. My son seems to really enjoy those even though he’s 10 now. We like to explore outside at nature and bugs and he loves to show me how to play with his Bakugan toys. We go to the library and grab videos and watch them together after making homemade pizza. Have a great weekend and thanks for sharing such a sweet post! :)

  74. spending quality time with the kids are very important.. my kids are into their teens now and the only days that i would call a family day is sunday.. during weekdays they are busy with schooling.. so i make it a point to cook delicious food for lunch/dinner and that’s when we all share some talks, eating together, laughing together, its fun. congrats on being FP.

  75. I’m going to try a few of the things on your list. We need something right now. We’re a blended family household, and things are getting really difficult these days. I think the younger kids (5 and 6) are subconsciously trying to push us apart because they miss how things used to be. It’s really difficult as the working parent to create change in the home, even if I felt like it. And I don’t feel like it most days because everyone’s so crabby and at each other’s throats half the time. So I’m trying to find ways to take small steps. We could use family counseling, and we’ll pursue that, but in the interim, I’m hoping I can step up and bring more peace into our home. I’m struggling today.

    Great post. Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed!

    • Chris — Thank you for your comments. My guess is that you are probably not alone as a family. There is so much chaos in our world. Declutter the house, cut down the schedules and get back to basics … I have dozens of posts waiting to be written that will help you as well. Good luck to your family! It is not an easy situation.

    • Chris our family is going through the same thing, just in a different way. My husband and I have 3 children, and then are adopting 4 more that were family members. These 4 are quite a bit younger, so it’s been a challenge to get us all on the same page! :)

  76. My older two are in their teens now so spend their time out of school with friends or studying. I do insist that we eat together (we used to do a lot of the things on your list when they were younger) and during school holidays as we sit around the dinner table whoever finishes eating first starts to read, sometimes a book we have chosen together, sometimes a newspaper or magazine article we have found interesting. We often sit for up to 3/4 of an hour taking turns to read or discussing what we have read. We also like to play the yes/no game or three word story. These games are “ageless” and timeless and bring us enormous amounts of fun.

  77. This is great, but nothing we don’t all already know. It’s wonderful to be reminded every so often: thank you. I love the one about looking at baby photos. My son wanted to look at his the other day but I was busy then, to my shame, forgot. I will get them out now, ready for when he gets home from school. congrats on being freshly pressed!

  78. This is so sweet and beautiful! I don’t have kids of my own yet, but I can’t wait to do them all one day! I love having the kids in my life in the kitchen with me, and I enjoy watching them help me create something kid-friendly and yummy! Telling stories is one of my most favorite things to do and I love coming up with stories line by line where everyone takes a turn thinking up what happens next! Kudos on a wonderful article! :)

  79. #22 is my favorite. my kids eat this u when i ask them for their thoughts. i try to do it with more ‘serious’ issues (think: i ran out of something that i need or can’t find something…those sort of crisis :o). reminds me of a quote i read yesterday:

    “The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.” ~Henry David Thoreau

    great post – we have very similar households :o)

  80. Thank you so much for this blog post. I have been disappearing behind my smart phone too much (and so have my husband and son!) A few weeks ago I had to “ground” him by taking away his video games, including those on his phone. We played a wonderful old-fashioned board game and loved every minute. Afterwards he told me he felt a little guilty for enjoying his “punishment” too much!

  81. You’re just REAL awesome with your ideas. I am barely doing few of those that you mentioned due to being so busy with chores at home @ 24/7. As I read along…it made me think and started to reflect as to how I am so stupid not to do much of those which are basically even simpler and easier than the chores I had been doing all day. My kids are growing fast…and yes, all kids are! You are so true that doing all these could mean sooooooo MUCH to them – that when the time comes that they are old enough these will surely be sweet memories that will make them smile as they share these very same tips to their own kids. (wink!)

  82. Outstanding article! Yeah. Some parents may wonder how to babysit their children. Finally, they use the baby-sitter to take care of their children. I am sad to see it.
    It can be inputs for parents to grow their children without presurring the children to obey their rules.
    Thanks a lot! :-)

    • No idea since I hadn’t even heard of Freshly Pressed until yesterday but perhaps it’s because even the most obvious parenting tools get lost in our busy days and people need reminders, many reminders. Thanks for your nice comment. : )

      • Exactly. I think of it kind of like breathing. You don’t need to be told to breathe, but we still sometimes use the phrase, “Just breathe.” It’s about focus, not groundbreaking parenting techniques.

  83. Loved this! Thanks for sharing some wonderful, yet simple ideas of how to keep the family engaged and connected with one another in the midst of all the distractions we all have with technology, social media, busy work schedules, etc. It was a great reminder of how important and how easy it is to stay connected to one another and to simply live in the moment and to enjoy every moment with our family and loved ones.

  84. Wholeheartedly agree! Technology has an insidious way of sucking up time even though it “saves” time. I’ve been learning to slow down and be more present as well. Part of this is simply not multi-tasking (or feeling like I should). One thing at a time. One step at a time. :)

  85. Great post. I am always concerned about the amount of screen time with my kids – Its an issue our parents never had to address and consequently we only have our own generation for support and advice. We base our own parenting on the good and bad aspects of our own parents parenting, but here were in open water without a trusty compass. Its really hard to fight and kids don’t understand the consequences of too much screen time until they become parents themselves.

  86. Very nice post with great ideas, yet simple. These suggestions can work in many other spheres of our lives, too. Our friendships don’t have to center around doing expensive, exciting things. It’s so important to really be alive for the mundane, too.

  87. It’s amazing to see how many children don’t know how to just play anymore. My family already does things like reading books and magazines, playing board games, building puzzles, and playing outside together, but you have a lot of other great ideas here! I can’t wait to try taking turns drawing a picture together… That should be really fun! (Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.)

  88. Great post! It is ever important in this day and age where we are inundated with technology everywhere we turn to foster real human interactions :) Great list of suggestions!

  89. Beautiful and simple. I loved all of your ideas but especially “Light a candle for your children — one each.” My kids would be so intrigued by this. I am sure it would lead to something special. Thanks so much for the great ideas from one mom to another!

  90. Thanks for sharing this. Children grow up so quickly, any time we can spend with them is precious. Now that I have my own child I can definitely say that his every smile is worth more than anything else in this world.

  91. I like to cook with children. One family celebration a week gives you a reason – and any reason is a good reason to share a meal together :) This week was Robbie Burns Day. Next week is Winterlude. The week after that is Valentines Day… that’s how it works in our house :) We use candles and pretty glasses and make mealtime an occasion.

  92. There is so much truth to what you are saying here. I received two pieces of advice before my first son was born: “enjoy the early days no matter how hectic they are”, and “this too shall pass”. I thought for a while that they contradicted one another, then realized that they are actually saying the same thing. Still, it never hurts to be reminded, and especially not when it means reevaluating my own screen time. Thank you.

  93. Our big thing is family projects – our blog was started years ago when the kids were smaller, as a way to get them writing (on paper) regularly. We decided we needed a shared family project and we’re kind of still doing it. I say kind of because the 9 year old thinks it is uncool now. But it gives us a shared experience about what we’re eating and where we are traveling.

    Another big one is about celebrating everything. Last week I decided we needed to celebrate Hawaii and surfing on a Friday night. We hung up lights, decorated, ordered Hawaiian pizza and played surf music. And we turned the TV on and had a surf documentary in the background.

    Of course, right now, we’re all on screens. But we will all log off when my work day is over. :)

  94. Well written and thanks. I have a 4 1/2 year old, 20 month old and a 3 month old. I designate Sundays as “no screen” days – nothing with a screen (except the LCD screen on my camera) while that are a wake, and honestly, sometimes it’s a challenge. But that’s my fault, and one I’m working on.

    One of my favorite questions that I ask my 4 1/2 year old every evening is “What was the best part about your day today and why?” I love hearing what stuck in her head from the day. Another one, as she was learning colors and such was “Tell me something BLUE you saw today” or “What was the best taste you had today?” Just trying to engage them, and me, and to give me insight into their day if I wasn’t with them.

    You’re right…18 years goes by way faster than we’d like.

    • Great ideas, Mark. We have a tradition of asking about all the feelings we felt today: like what made you feel happy, angry, anxious, etc. Works like a charm!

  95. Im a mother of a beautiful 5 year old girl who is my world and more. In the last two years my world has been turned upside down due to a spinal injury that limits now what I’m able to do, and along with other issues I face one of them is trying to do things with my daughter differently so that I can manage and she still gets the best of me, which is easier said than done, but reading your blog has given me reassurance that I’m still a good mum and also some new ideas that I can try that will help me be the best I can be with out me feeling guilty that she is also suffering as a result of my physical loss so for this I thank you !

    • Many good thoughts coming to you … thank you for sharing. You don’t have to do much of anything. Just notice. Appreciate. Honor. Good luck to you.

  96. I have a toddler so this sweet post gave me so much to look forward to with my girl. We have a dance party every single day, so that’s a great one, but I also loved the idea of lighting a candle for each child. How thoughtful and meditative!

  97. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I love this post and applaud you for recognizing how incredibly precious it is to be a mother. The world would be an infinitely better place with more moms like you. I look forward to following your blog and embracing your mission…even though my “boys” are 33 and 31 my role still matters…a lot!

  98. it is no easy task to raise children.ihave 2 beautiful children but at times ifeel im just not being able to give my proper attention to them though im not working but ithink there is no balance.at days igive priority to their school work while at other days they are just playing around or in front of the tv or computer.the best is having dinner together.

  99. Awesome!! As a mother of two (an 8yr old and 4yr old), it can be hard to stay focused on what is important. Thanks for reminding me :)

  100. I got my twins Leap Pads, too. They are invaluable for car trips or those times at the restaurant when service takes FOREVER. But in non-urgent situations, I like to draw limits on screen time and then just sit back and watch what they start doing. Sometimes I just watch and other times I join in. It’s so awesome to watch their play and imaginations evolve.

  101. These are great ideas, and unlike so many I come accross they are refreshingly free of ideology or jargon. I also think that they transend boundaries. I’m an American living in Italy with two daughters (12 and 14) and finding ways to make our home-time family friendly while not appearing to wage a war against technology and the outside world is becoming a too-overlooked priority over here.
    I’m going to pass this post on to friends. Best.

  102. I’m going to ask my girls each individually to teach me how to do something. I can’t wait! They are four and two so I’m sure I will blog about it and reference your list. Thanks for the idea

  103. […] I am as guilty of this as anyone. Maybe sometimes even more so, if I am to be honest with myself. It’s easy to get caught up in other things while you’re spending time with your children. I find myself checking facebook, texting, or even blogging(!) when I’ve set aside time to spend with the kids. Out of Time Teen is doing the same thing when we’re spending time together, and sometimes I feel like he’d rather not be spending time with me when he’s text messaging someone else. That’s when I realize I need to make more of a conscious effort to really be there when we’re spending time together. I found this blog with some clever ideas for spending time with your kids.  25 Ways to Just Be with your Children.  […]

  104. Nice (non-exhaustive?) list. Good to see people having ‘quality time’ with their kids and even promote it! Encourages me to make up a list myself, because time and others occupations easliy get in the way… but you’re right: it’s not hard work and so rewarding.

  105. Its so nice to see parent’s trying to be good parent’s and not let technology take over. I think I will share some of your ideas with the client’s I work with. I think they are great. Keep up the good work. Your girls are beautiful.

  106. Awesome post as usual! I love to build a fort for my kids and then crawl inside and read books by flashlight. :)

    • Thank you for your ideas. Sometimes I find myself spinning the wheels like a hamster in regards to what to do with my daughter. I LOVE your suggestion on getting them to teach me something…what a boost of self confidence for them…THANK YOU:)

  107. I really love this post. My son is 3 and has Down syndrome and isn't talking verbally yet, but uses sign language. Some of these activities don't yet apply but I love the ideas here.

  108. My son is 11 months old so there isn't much on this list yet that I can do with him, but here is what I do do… I am there. He's at a stage in his life where he doesn't play "with" others. I am not there to entertain him, I am just in the room, in case he wants to include me in his play. He includes me often, with a hug or a smile, and it is such a joy. He is a little blessing in my life and every day I have with him is a gift, not a guarantee. I try to recognize that and enjoy him as much as possible. I also stay intentional about making sure I don't have the TV on when he is up, I wait and watch if he's asleep. I also often have music on in the background while he plays, going between my favorite radio stations like Family Life Radio and KLOVE, and children's music CD's. Anyway, you asked what I like to do, and I like to just sit and watch him, and ask him how he does things, even though he can't answer me yet. :)

  109. I loved it !!!!!! Me and my husband try to follow all of these. It really gets you close to your family. … I haven’t tried –
    Give them a coupon for a hug to use anytime they need it.
    I will try this one

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Shawn Fink - Abundant MamaFrom Our Founder

I created The Abundant Mama Project to inspire overwhelmed, busy mothers to slow down and let go of the worries and concerns that are holding them back from experiencing joyful motherhood. Read More »
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