I’m usually in the car for at least three hours a day and that’s only if I don’t have any appointments for myself or the kids or a playdate to attend. I try to keep things simple but sometimes we’re just in the car for a long time and there’s nothing I can do about it. In Kathi Lipp’s book, “The Mom Project,” she talks about using time in the car as an opportunity to bond with your kids. Since this is something I had already been doing, I was intrigued to read about her ideas on listening to audio books together. It’s not something I’d ever done with my kids. Sounds simple enough, I thought. So I took Kathi’s list of suggestions on where to begin and I headed to the library.
Since my kids already love going to the library, I knew this part of the experiment was going to be easy. It was going to be picking out what we listened to as a family that was going to be the hard part. My children are 9, 6, and 4 so finding something they would all agree on and enjoy had me stumped.
My plan was to take all three kids to the library but well, life happened, and before I knew it, the oldest was too tired and the youngest was having a tantrum so I took my middle child, Hannah. I told her we were headed to the library which got her super excited. We had some books to return so it was perfect timing. Hannah ran inside and assumed her usual position at the audio booth where she started playing Toca Boca. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Come on honey, we’re going to take a look at some audio books.”
“Huh? What are those?” She asked.
“Well, they’re books but they’re on a CD so I can just pop them into my CD player in the car kind of like I do when I play movies for you guys. Instead of a movie coming on though, you’ll just hear words through the speaker.”
I could tell Hannah was confused. I walked us over to the librarian’s desk and told her what we were looking for. She pointed us in the right direction and I looked at my list from the “Mom Project” on some suggestions Kathi gave on what good books were out there for the entire family. Laura Ingalls Wilder was mentioned in her book as “one of the best little kids books” so that’s what I picked out. She described the “Little House” series being “simple enough for little kids to understand but rich enough in detail that it would hold the attention of older kids and adults.”
When we got back in the car, I popped in the CD and right when I was beginning to tell Hannah what we were going to listen to, she quickly went, “Shhh! Mom, I want to hear this.” Well, then. I guess that settles that. This audio book thing was going to be my new best friend. I didn’t hear a peep from her the entire 20 minute ride home. When we got back in the car the next morning to head to school, I heard Hannah say to her brother, “Dylan, mom got this cool thing from the library and it’s a story.”
I quickly turned on the car and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s CD started talking to us. The entire car was quiet. Our drive to school is less than five minutes and I almost felt guilty having to turn off the CD to tell the kids to have a good day and I’d see them after school. “Can we listen to this when you pick us up?” Dylan asked. I giggled. “Sure, honey. I’ll make sure I have it playing when I pick you up.”
What I Learned
I’ve always felt a pang of guilt for not having children who devour books like other children do. My kids would much rather make a craft than read a book. What I learned from doing this experiment with them, was that reading books isn’t the only way to get them more immersed in literature. Sometimes thinking outside the box and finding new ways to get them interested in reading is just what a kids need. I have a feeling audio books in the car might be our new thing.
If you’re not familiar with the content in an audio book, you might get some recommendations from the librarian about what’s age appropriate for your kids. For example, in the Laura Ingalls Wilder CD I rented, there was a part in the story about a dog passing away. I wished I had thought to ask someone about this before playing it for my kids. Since my son is extra sensitive to animals, it came as a surprise to all of us when we were listening. Luckily, I was able to see my son’s face in the rearview mirror and I was able to debrief with him for a minute about what he’d just heard.
Kathi talks about turning the CD off to have a discussion with your kids if there’s something they don’t understand. This was a great moment for me to do just that. My recommendation would be to make sure what your kids are hearing is something you are prepared to talk about with them. Had I known about this piece in the book, I may have fast forwarded through that part.
This post was written by parenting journalist Meagan Ruffing, mom to three children, one with special needs. Meagan’s passion is to reach other moms who are overwhelmed and to help them find more control in their lives. For a free set of “Overwhelmed to In Control” worksheets, visit www.meaganruffing.com.
Too often when I crawl into bed I realize that the day has brought little (if any) emotional connection with my husband.
I might be living and married to this man, but I often wish I had more quality time with him.
I realize I miss him. I miss us.
Busy lives and families
Families today are busier now than ever before. It’s common for both parents to work full-time jobs outside of the home, and many of us report feeling stressed, tired, and rushed (New York Times)*. Whether we’re working inside the house or outside of the house, the busyness of life leaves couples feeling more like friends than intimate partners.
Consider our leisure time. According to my own informal survey, though couples spend time ‘together,’ women often report time spent on electronic devices steals precious time and causes them to feel disconnected from their spouse.
Couples experience shoulder-to-shoulder time, but lack face-to-face time.
Reconnecting with your husband
So, what is one thing you can do when you miss your husband? Incorporate daily ‘couch time’ with your husband.
One Small Win: ‘Couch time’ is 15 minutes of uninterrupted conversation time.
And while ‘couch time’ doesn’t have to be on the couch, choose a place where you can preferably sit across from one another and away from distractions.
Determine the time and place it will take place.
Right after dinner?
Before leaving for work?
Face Time over your lunch break?
Set your alarm 15 minutes early to chat in bed before getting ready for the day?
Sit down at the table as soon as you are both home?
And yes, this even goes for those of us with young children! Prime your kiddos for this special time by telling them, “Mom and Dad will be visiting for 15 minutes. When we are done, then we’ll be happy to help.
It doesn’t take long to connect with your husband. It does take intention.
Imagine catching up with your husband about your day. Sitting down and truly listening to each other. Filling your husband in on that funny story or frustrating situation. Talking about the next day and what you each have going on.
Don’t wait. Chat with your husband about couch time today. Plan it, and enjoy your special time together.
* Miller, Claire, C. “Stressed, Tired, Rushed: A Portrait Of The Modern Family.” The New York Times. November, 2015. www.nytimes.com. Web. 14 Dec. 2016.
Amanda Davison is on a mission to share how her education in counseling and God’s word changed her marriage. She is sure to share personal, laugh-out-loud moments, which are woven with challenging yet inviting perspective change.
As a Speaker and Wife Coach, she tackles topics such as: becoming a confident wife, handling the real frustrations as wives, knowing and owning our high call as wives, and obedience. She wants to hear from you and hopes you will join with her on the journey of learning to love God’s people well. Learn more about Amanda at www.amandadavison.com.
There are all sorts of ways to do it, but here are three ways you can connect with each of your kids.
Take Your Child on a one-on-one vacation. My friend Kim and her husband had long promised their children that when each of them turned sixteen, he or she would go on an extended vacation. The only rule was that it had to be in the continental U.S. and the kids had to help plan the vacation. Kim found out the best part was learning about the unique personalities each child had.
If a whole vacation does not work, try a weekend or even a one night over night. The overnight part is what is fun and makes it special because it is extended time together.
Take Your Child on a regular date night. Justen and I began this tradition when he was about seven years old, and we still do it now that he is out of high school. About once a month, we choose a night to go out on the town, just the two of us. It may be hamburgers at the local burger joint or it may be going to a museum. The point is to do something fun that you will both enjoy and can talk about in the years to come.
GO SMALL (but SIGNIFICANT)
Connect with your child over small but memorable activities. When Kimberly was eight years old, we started sharing a mother-daughter journal. One night I would tuck it under her pillow and the next night she would tuck it under mine. It was a wonderful way to connect and have a little insight into my daughter’s heart. A friend of mine, Angie, still brushes her daughter’s hair at the end of the day and will talk about their days. Her daughter is thirteen! It is a little thing that has become a special part of the day.
Planning this one on one time takes some time, but it will be worth it knowing that you are investing in a lifetime of memories and really connecting with your child. And to help you with more planning, if you comment on this post and let me know some ways you make your child feel special when you are one one one, you may will a copy of 21 Ways to Connect with Your Kids.
Spending time outside does not have to just be camping, as much fun as that is, but there are many ways to get the kids outside in the fresh air while spending quality time connecting with your children. Ones that don’t include going to the bathroom in the forest.
Ten Ways to Get Outside and Connect
1. Go for a treasure hunt in your neighborhood. Here’s a short list of things for your kid to look for: a leaf bigger than their hand, a rock smaller than their little toe, and something they can recycle. You can also have them make up the list to keep them interested.
2. Tape a large piece of butcher paper to your fence or outside wall and paint a mural.
The biggest thing to remember is to prepare for any event that you do. This means everything from planning on what you are going to eat on your picnic to being dressed warmly enough in case it gets windy. Encourage each child to find something in the activity that they connect with. For the expressive child, it might be the beautiful colors. For the athletic child, it might be games you play while running in the sprinkler. Try to connect with each child no matter what way you choose.
How about you? How do you get your kids outside? What are some fun ways you connect with them while outside? Tell me in the comments and you will have a chance to win my book all about connecting called 21 Ways to Connect with Your kids.
Here are three ways that you can teach your child to serve:
Model service yourself.
This one should be such a no brainer, but often the things we are trying to teach our children are usually areas that we need a little more work on in order to grow our character. Show your children how you are making a meal for the new mom. Let them know that the extra time on the computer was writing a letter to an aunt who is having a hard time. When you take them to a nursing home to play games with the residents, you will be showing that service is important to you and it should be important to them. You will be showing them how ordinary families can do extraordinary things.
Explain to them that serving is not only one action but it is a demonstration of love.
Every time you fill a cup in the name of Jesus, you are showing His love to another person. Explain this to your children. Tell them how He healed the sick and how our families can be like that as far as healing people’s lonely hearts. Tell them that sometimes you plan on serving like going to a homeless shelter and other times God brings unexpected opportunities to serve someone, like an urgent call to watch a neighbor’s child if the mother had to go somewhere.
Reward Them With Praise When They Serve
When you see your child clearing off the table by himself without being asked or you see a note written to a grandparent just because the child wanted to…go gangbusters and tell them over and over how great that is that God prompted them to serve like that! They will be much more likely to want to do it again!
What is one way that you teach your kids to serve? One person who comments will get my book 21 Ways to Connect to Your Kids!
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