This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org as part of their #talkearly campaign.
School is starting and I’m about to freak out. My kids are heading into 7th, 5th, and 1st grade, which means I’m smack in the part of their lives where everything whizzes by so fast it makes my head spin. Once our school schedule clicks into place, we’re running from thing to thing and we can go days without slowing down long enough to have a conversation.But that’s not ok - especially not this year. This is a big year in terms of changes and transitions for all three of my kids. So I’m taking what I know about each of them and focusing on quality over quality when it comes to connecting with them. I’m a big proponent of talking often and early about everything - the big stuff and the mundane. I don’t intend to miss any opportunities because lately, I’ve become acutely aware how fast the years with these guys are moving and how few of them there are left.
Let’s start with strategies that work with all three kids.
The car. The car is the best, as it’s where we live half the time anyway during the school year. When multiple kids are present, it’s not a good time for phishing for personal disclosures or heartfelt outpourings. That happens when you’re alone in the car with just one kid.
Some of our very best talks have happened when I was alone in the van with one of my kids and I just gave them the chance to spill. I ask here-and-now type questions that seem easier for them answer, like:
- What are you thinking about right now?
- How are you feeling about school today?
- How are your friends doing?
Having all three kids in the car (and sometimes some of their friends) can yield some great talks, too. Sometimes I just have to be quiet, and they forget I’m there - not sure how that works, I mean, I’m driving the car. Other times, we all just babble about stuff that happened and everyone offers their perspective on it. I find out so much about what’s going on in school from our time in the car.
Dog walks. There are probably a million reasons why my life as a parent is made better by the presence of my dog. No matter how busy our day is, he needs to get walked. Even if it’s only 15 minutes, that time is awesome for talking with my kids as we stroll around the neighborhood. Sometimes, we need to take an extra lap around the block if we’re not done discussing something. That’s my favorite.
Bedtime. Bedtime is kind of a poopshow at my house but I’ve learned it’s the best possible time to have meaningful conversations, as my kids will literally do anything - even talk to me about their feelings - in order to avoid going to sleep. This is an especially good time to connect with my littlest, who is still young enough to crave snuggles at night and loves to get troubling things off her chest to help her feel better as she falls asleep.
The media. Every time the media hands me an opportunity, I grab it. A song on the radio talking about drinking and sex and I’ll say: “You guys, what do you think that means?”. A movie that shows teenagers partying: “What do you think this is saying to kids?”. This helps my kids both become more aware of the bombardment of messages about drinking and partying directed at them, but also to deconstruct what it means both to them personally and to our culture in general. These moments seem to be happening all the time, as every song on the radio now seems to be about sexytime or getting wasted. Or maybe I’m just old and grouchy?
(Sidebar: Actually no. Tov Lo’s “High” has got nothing on Prince’s “Darling Nicki” - which was considered super racy back in the 80’s. The first time I heard that “High” song I was like: WHAT THE HELL IS THIS SEX CLUB GARBAGE ON THE RADIO AT 7AM?! and then I morphed into Clint Eastwood yelling at teenagers to get off my lawn.)
Lego time/Drawing time. Two of my kids are pretty artistic and love to sit at the table and draw/doodle/make things. My son loves to build Legos for hours. There’s something about being engaged in something else that allows them to both listen and and share their thoughts.
Here’s a couple of things that work for me with specific kids:
Brushing hair. Girls and hair… Am I right? While we’re brushing, conditioning, braiding, drying, or straightening - we are also talking. Other grooming times work for this too - like taking nail polish off or picking out clothes for school.
Video games. My son loves video games. Even though they’re not my thing, I’ll hang out with him occasionally while he plays and ask him questions about the games. Sometimes those questions lead to other questions and we have some good talks about meaningful stuff.
We’re super busy and I’m pretty overwhelmed with all that we’ve got going on. In the middle of all my frenetic flapping about, I’m going to try and take time every day to talk to my kids and stay connected with them. I know that’s aspirational, but the effort is worth something. Talking early and often may not seem like a big deal, but it’s the best deal in town.
This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org as part of their #TalkEarly campaigns, encouraging families to talk early, talk often, and be healthy. All the opinions are my own because no one is the boss of me. I'm very, very proud to be part of the #TalkEarly blogger team this year.
(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2015
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