Reconnect Routines: Establishing a Routine to Reconnect with Your Child
“Mommy, read to me.” “Daddy, let’s wrestle!” “Mom, can we go get ice cream?” “Dad, let’s play a game.” Some of these requests may sound familiar. These requests show the natural desire and need for our children to connect with us. According to Pam Leo, author of Connection Parenting, “Our effectiveness as parents is in direct proportion to the strength of the bond we have with our child. Securing and maintaining that bond is our primary work as parents and is the key to optimal human development.” As parents, we all want the best for our children, and maintaining a strong bond helps our children flourish in a variety of ways; however, when we are separated from them for eight or more hours each weekday, we need to find a way to reconnect.
This topic is one of many discussed by Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, on her website Aha! Parenting. Specifically addressing the necessity of reconnecting, she believes that “All parents need to repeatedly reconnect with their children, just to repair the daily erosion created by life’s normal separations and distractions.” In other words, by simply spending time apart from our children, we lose some of our connection and need to intentionally reconnect with them once together again.
We know that reconnecting is important; however, our hectic lives make it easy to neglect reconnecting after a long workday. By establishing a reconnect routine, we guarantee certain time during the week to connect with our children. As each family differs, each routine will differ. After establishing a routine and maintaining it for some time, reconnecting should become instinctual.
Creating a Reconnect Routine
A warm welcome, the first step in a reconnect routine, is essential. When you first see your child after being separated, lovingly greet your child with affectionate physical contact. Make sure to convey your excitement for this reunion. Take a moment to inquire about his or her day. Ask about specifics. For example, if your child attends music class on Monday, ask what songs were sung. You have no idea what your child has experienced during those hours of separation. His feelings were likely up and down throughout the day. In this moment, you remind him of your love and his importance to you. You pick him up from anything that brought him down during the day. This warm welcome is his moment each day to feel special, to feel like a king, to feel like the world revolves around him.
In addition to a warm welcome, you may establish other daily connecting moments. For example, as soon as you arrive at home, you may look at and discuss daily papers or other letters, notes, projects sent from school. By using these as an opportunity to let your child talk to you about his day, you show him your interest in those hours of separation. Another fun daily connecting moment might include a special afternoon snack together at the table or in a special place like the back porch. You can talk about your time apart or plans for that evening. Another classic idea, the nighttime story, provides numerous benefits. In addition to connecting, you help broaden your child’s vocabulary, imagination, comprehension skills, love of reading, and literary knowledge. Madison mother Cassandra Newman takes her daughter to the library 2-3 times a week to check out new books, and each night they reconnect while reading their library books.
Perhaps daily connecting moments are difficult to establish. If that is the case, you may choose a certain day of the week to do something fun and special. As the parent, you may need to establish certain boundaries involving expense, time constraints, etc. You can connect while figuring out ways to connect by brainstorming ideas together. For example, after school each Friday, prepare a picnic snack and do a review of the week. You can talk about high points, low points, or goals for the next week. Consider your child’s interests and include them in your special connecting moment. For example, you may have Magic Monday where you and your child spend time learning a new magic trick or Saturday Stars where you study constellations and stargaze each Saturday. These connecting moments do not need to be elaborate. Something as simple as going to the library to check out new books on Tuesday (and playing a game of Checkers at the Flowood Library) may be the perfect fit for your family. Laura Graham, a Flowood mother of two, enjoys taking her girls to get a treat at Bops or Baskin–Robbins after picking them up at school. Not only do the girls get a snack to tide them over until dinner but also attention from Mama and an opportunity to reconnect. Ice cream always makes things better!
The possibilities for creating a reconnect routine are limitless. The benefits to your child, family, and self are priceless. This school year, take the time to focus on reconnecting after your separation, and the next time you hear, “Dad, let’s play a game,” tell your kid to go pick out his favorite and seize the opportunity to connect.
By Beth McKay
Leo, Pam. Connection Parenting and Optimal Child Development. 1989-2008, connectionparenting.com. Accessed 12 July 2017.
Markham, Laura. Aha! Parenting. 2017, ahaparenting.com. Accessed 12 July 2017.