Reading Together–this one seems super simple, but couldn’t be more important. Of course, there are some very obvious academic benefits–the National Education Association and the National Center for Education Statistics has conducted numerous studies, analyzing the importance of reading to your kids…and the findings are incredible. Twenty-six percent of children who are read to four-to-five times a week recognize every alphabet letter (as compared to the fourteen percent of kids who are read to less often). This increase in reading and letter recognition leads to writing and reading on their own earlier. On top of that, children exposed to reading before preschool show a higher aptitude for learning in general, and tend to do better in school than children who were not read to.
However, things like reading can get buried under the chaos of school, lessons, practice, events and more. Slowing down and taking time to read–maybe right after school or just before bed–creates a special opportunity to share the day’s thoughts and feelings. It’s something both you and your child can look forward to all day!
This even works if you’ve got more than one child. Let each child pick their own book! Take them to the library–one at a time, of course, so it’s a special outing with just you–and let them experience the thrill of finding and selecting their own book!
Take a Hike–we know. Heading out and hitting the trails isn’t always convenient, but it’s so worth it. Pack a picnic , choose a new favorite hiking spot every week or so, and get out there!
You’ll be surprised how different your child is once they get out into nature! The challenge here is allowing your hike to be an adventure–at a playground, there are some unwritten rules of behavior…but in the woods, not so much! Let yourself relax a little and allow your child to stray from the path. Let them run across that fallen tree, splash in that river or pond…let them climb and jump and do what kids do naturally! Then settle in the grass somewhere under a tree and enjoy a snack.
It’s amazing the things kids can observe while they’re outside–most important while you’re out is to listen. A quiet park is the greatest place to understand your child and have meaningful conversation.
Spring, summer, fall and winter–there’s no bad time to hike with your child! And hiking can become an amazing tradition that continues long after your child needs to hold your hand! Taking a day to have a picnic with your teen can help you overcome the insurmountable wall that forms during those awkward tween years.
Take in a Show–we’re not talking about plopping down on the couch to watch the latest Netflix release! We mean letting your kiddo pick a movie and going to the theatre. Little ones will love the event of going out, getting a huge tub of popcorn and noshing their favorite snacks while staring at the big screen! It’ll give you both a chance to laugh and cry together and there is plenty to talk about afterwards!
Now, once or twice a year, do it up right–find a local stage production (usually around Christmas or sometimes in the spring), dress to the nines and go see a live show! It’s a brand new experience for your child that they’ll never ever forget. Better still, you may find yourself going to see that Christmas show every year…maybe with your grandkids one day too!
Cleaning House–while this one seems “normal”, maybe even “boring” compared to everything else on this list, teaching your child to clean with you is a perfect daily way to enjoy some quality time! Put on some music and let your kids help you dust and sweep. As they get older, they can take care of windows and dishes, and before long, you’ve got a cleaning buddy that can take half the chores off your shoulders!
Cooking is another vastly important skill that often falls to the wayside. Teenagers and young adults rely heavily on fast food and microwave meals because the age-old art of home cooking gets lost in translation.
It can start small–letting your toddler to preschool-aged kids add ingredients to a bowl and mix. But as time goes on, kids can help you pick out ingredients, wash and cut up produce, set the table and help serve! It’ll teach your child important cooking basics and the value of a home cooked meal! They’ll definitely thank you later.
Protect that mother-child bond and help it grow! All it takes is a few minutes of one-on-one time a day to ensure a long and beautiful relationship with your child. You’re a mother, you’re your child’s world and they’re yours…remember, you’re in your kiddo’s “good old days”–the ones that they’ll talk about on holidays and tell their kids about. Live them well!