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Episode 95

Four ways to connect with your kids (no matter how busy you are)

February 19, 2024
In Episode 95, Sara and I discuss how difficult it can be to connect with kids when life gets busy. We delve into why intentional connection during these times is so crucial to cultivating an open and honest relationship with children. If we aren’t intentional then we risk making the disconnection the new norm in the family.

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Episode 95 Transcript:

I think every parent wants to have a deep connected relationship with their kid. But all too often we get so, so busy and all that business seems to make it impossible for us to have any connection time with our child. And before we know it, we're not connected at all. So in today's podcast, Sara and I are going to give you four specific ways to stay through the podcast, four specific steps, no matter how busy your life is right now, that you're going to be able to have a deeper connection with your kids. So when the hard stuff happens, they're going to want to come and share that with you. So look forward to you joining us today.


Hello and welcome to the Art of Raising Humans. I'm Kyle. And I'm Sara. And today we want to talk about how to help you in a busy world with connection, right? Right. You know, a lot of times we talk to parents, Sara, they maybe get the idea that connecting with their kids is important. You know, they really see that as a vital aspect of parenting, you know? And that's a big win because we really want that. We want everybody to understand how vital it is that they spend time with their kids on a daily, weekly basis, really connecting with them and getting time to where they're really getting to know their kid. But what we hear from a lot of people is, man, it's so busy when they're going to school, they're going to activities. It just seems like it's go, go, go, go. And of course, we would never recommend that to be your whole life. Right. I don't think anyone. No, and I think even with that we all have those seasons where There's a lot going on and you're super busy and you and you're holding out there It's really important to connect with my kids, but how can I we just have a lot going on right now? Yeah, and so even though we try to be really intentional about not being too busy There are times where it just just seems to keep going and going and going it's really happening really fast And so then in those times, it's really important not to get away from that fundamental basic aspect of any relationship, right? I mean, like, I think even in marriage, it can happen, you know, where a lot of couples, it gets really busy. And then before they know it, it's been a year of busyness, you know, and they just aren't connecting. And then they finally just lose touch. You start running parallel lives where you're all here, even with your children, and you're going through the motions of getting ready and eating and all this stuff, but real connection isn't happening. Yeah. and you've got to have that real connection because other things will start to break down. If you're noticing more arguments, more tension, more stress in your relationships, the fundamental, you got to go back to connection. You got to go, are we really connecting? Are we really having those good moments together? Well, usually there's, you just haven't had the time to do that. And I find too, Sara, like I remember even in our marriage, especially as we had kids, the babies, we're not getting much sleep. It can be really easy to just get into this pattern of not really connecting. You know, like I think a lot of couples get into the pattern of they work, they come home, they take care of dinner, all those other kinds of needs. And then let's watch a show and then they go sleep. Right. And there's really been no connection all day long about anything between the couple, much less with the kids. You know, and so I think since we start with this basic belief that in any relationship, if you want it to grow and flourish, connection, intentional connection has to happen. Yeah. And you know, if you, if you don't have that, what starts to happen is you just drift. And even with children, you start to drift and you know, it's more and more distance and you don't know the. what's really going on in their life. You know, if you haven't called that friend in a while, and it could be your best friend, you're going to notice some distance there. And you're like, we need to get together. And that's that thing. And you, I need to give that person a call. We haven't talked in forever. And you, you're noticing that and you know, you need to come back together. And it's the same thing with children, spouse, anyone. Well, I think you and I really notice it if we are in those busy seasons, I bet every listener can totally relate to this. And when you're in those busy seasons, conflicts happen a lot more often, you know, misunderstandings. I know if you and I have not intentionally spent time just connecting in little ways throughout the week or throughout the day, it seems like irritation's easier, frustration's easier, you know, really like. you might say something and normally I would get it but in that moment my mind's somewhere else, you So I'm not really speaking your language and I think the same thing is happening with the kids too, you know? So I think a lot of the listeners who are hearing this are saying, yeah, when we get really busy that makes sense. Like you get busy, busy, busy and then it gets more frustrating and then I find Sara, that's the real kickers. If in that busy time we aren't being intentional about connection, then those conflicts happen and now I even want to spend less time with you, you know? Because even though the distance grows bigger. When the little time I'm getting to spend with you, it is conflictual. Like we're buttin' heads all the time, you know? And so then I'm like, well, now if I have 15, 20 minutes to set aside, I just want to spend it alone, you know, away from you. So we hear a lot from parents who are saying, man, but what do we do in those busy seasons? How do we do that? Because you and I just don't throw up our hands and go, we're just really busy. So can't connect. We just got to get through it. Yeah, which you got it got after this next three months, they'll be fine. But then what we found happened is that three months happens in the four months and five. And it seems like it never says that. And plus in a way. if you let it at first you're like, okay, there's just a little, but if you let that continue, especially depending on your child's age, a teenager or something, that's a lot, that's a lot more work to bring that back here. Right. So you want to, when you start to notice that you want to bring that back as quick as you can. So it's also how can we maintain this as much as possible in the middle of a busy season? And I noticed Sara, when I'm coaching families and I get to spend time with some teenagers and help them as well is the teenagers, you know, they can point back to a time when they used to do intentional family nights and they use. to do games, they used to go out and spend one -on -one time with their parents and somewhere that all stopped. And now it's been years and they just aren't doing it anymore. And then it's like a struggle when I'm talking to the parents and I'm encouraging them to connect with the kids because they don't even know what to connect on. You know, lots of them can't even think of ways to because over time, like you said, they just drifted so far. Yeah, they don't really know what to do. It gets so big then you think, wait, what do we like to do together? What do you enjoy? And maybe some things have changed in the relationship or in that other person. And if you let it drift too far, you really don't know how. It's a lot more, how do we bring this back together? We've drifted so far apart. So as we were talking about that and as many parents came out, which we love parents coming up and telling us about how they feel about the podcast. So so many times, Sara, when I'm helping coach parents, they'll say, I listened to this episode recently, I thought this, or we'll have parents who just come up to us in our community and tell us, and lots of our ideas come from that kind of interaction. So even when people... reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram or they or they even email us and so I'm gonna encourage any parents listening to this send that information to us if you love something we talked about we'd love to hear that that's really encouraging but we also love to hear topics you know so this topic in particular was inspired by that that I like it I agree with it how do we do it in these busy seasons so then you and I said hey let's kind of like Really bring it down to where if I just have 15 minutes, 15, 20 minutes with my kid, what are those things that I'm going to do in those busy times to maintain connection on a daily basis? Yes, sort of like an emergency toolkit or something. Because we found ourselves there and we think, OK. What does it boil down to if I only have 15 and I got to maximize the 15? What do I do? Yeah. How do I know this isn't something you want to live at this level, but we've all been there. those moments come in life. And so if I've got this, how do I make the most of that time? So we are going to give you four specific ways to do that in this podcast. I think the most important thing, first of all, is to have intentional moments with them. So if you picture out right now, think about what is that 15 to 20 minutes? Like, I think everybody can find that somewhere. It might be on a car ride. It could be at bedtime. It could be eating dinner. I'm even thinking today I was very intentional. I knew we'd be kind of busy doing some of this, other things going on. So I was thinking in the car today as I was driving with the three kids, I was like, how could I connect with them in the car ride real quick? And so we had, it was about a 15, 20 minute car ride. This doesn't need to be a time that we check out, but I'm gonna do these four things intentionally just to connect with them. So it's important for them to find one of those spaces. It might be even in the morning before they get home, go to school all that stuff. Yeah and I don't think you want to just just be on the lookout for it because maybe it'll happen. It is something you want to think all right this month this week is gonna be a busy time where can I make sure this moment happens and so yeah it might be well I know I'm driving them to school every day or picking them up or I know we I mean, dinner could be hard because usually if you're busy, dinner's a hard thing, but maybe we'll all have breakfast together or I, you know, I'm there when they go to bed at night, whatever it might be, just make sure you're intentional and that, you know, cause you want to be in the mindset. You want to be in that space of I'm going to go connect with my child. Cause if you're really, really busy, your mind might be on 50 other things you need to be doing. So you want to have a plan. Cause you want to know that this is the moment that I'm really going to capitalize on this time. I'm going to be there. And, and I want to be intentional about that, not just. hope it happens. I love that and what this time isn't so you're saying important make it intentional, plan it out, don't it's not a surprise you know what you're doing. And what this time is not it is not lecturing them right this isn't the time to lecture them it isn't the time to check in on their homework yeah you know it isn't the time to teach a lesson right right this is just a time to connect and enjoy them and I'd say very similar to just like going on a date. You know, like a lot of marriage counselors say, if you and I are gonna spend some intentional time and it's limited, maybe we just have a moment to catch and we're gonna eat something or get coffee real quick. That's not a time to do these things either, right? It's not a time to just talk about the logistics of the day. It's a time to really connect with you and it's gonna feel completely different if you have that intentional focus. And you might even have some things that you feel like, man, they didn't clean their room and I told them to clean their room or. I know this grade or something needs to be addressed then you need to carve out some you need to do something else with that because this needs to be protected because your Relationship even if you need to have that conversation the relationship needs to come first. Okay, so number one These are the four things that we recommend let's go through those real quick. Okay, so the number one thing Touch them. Yeah So what does that mean? Oh that could be? Man, if I have a, you know, I might play Russell, tickle my little kids, you know, you tickle or give them a good hug, a good bear hug. Um, you know, you like might push them around. I might walk by him and give him a little shove, right? Some kind of playful way. Yeah. I might even like, I think intentionally what I do go back to the hug is I want to greet them that way. You know, in the morning I've been real intentional about when I see them saying hi and then giving them a hug. You know, today in the car ride, what I did, and this is something you see me do often, even when I'm driving, I'll reach back to the back seat and give them all a high five or I'm going to grab their hand real quick. So it doesn't have to be this big. Especially I know some people say, well, some kids are more touchy than not, but touch is still important. No matter what level of touch you have, you're still going to be able to give them a hug. touch that is, it might even buy I'm thinking even marriage if I were to come by and just touch your shoulder like I'm doing right now. I noticed that when you do that to me. When you walk by and I'm sitting on a couch and you just touch my shoulder, there's literally something that happens there. I don't go, get your hand off me. I'm thinking, oh, that was nice. She noticed me. And so I think touch in any way you can. It could even be with our son. I like to tussle his hair a little bit and do those kind of things. And then he'll come back and do that to me or something. So that we'll do this way of connecting physically. So then number two would be. you kind of hit this a little bit about kind of having your focus there is you want to be completely and totally present. Yes. I was trying not to dive too deep into that. Okay. Okay. Good. I knew it was a point. It's different than being intentional. Like what intentional is here's the space for that. Being fully present. I can create the space, but being fully present means I'm all there. I'm completely focused on this moment. I'm not making the grocery list. I'm not thinking about that phone call. I just, for a moment, I can set all that in a shelf. If it comes back into your mind, you can just say, okay, I will get to that. Put it back on that shelf and refocus back. onto your child. Yeah, so it's 15, 20 minutes of completely putting that stuff aside. And I know that's difficult for for a lot of people. You can have some real intrusive thoughts going on. Yeah, but I'm really just gonna and I think all the listeners, if you've not experienced that, I encourage you to try. I can tell the difference. Because my mind is a busy mind. And I have a lot going on. So there's times when I'm connecting with the kids, I'm doing air quotes, for those who can't see us. But I'm really not there. And there's other times where I'm purposely like watching them play or watch them do something and I'm just completely focused and I'm all there. And I know even between us, once again, in our marriage, you can feel the power of that connection when somebody's completely and totally present. And I know some parents even do a intentional thing. Maybe the connection time is dinner time or whatever. Everyone puts their phones away. Even as a gesture to show the kids, I prioritize you. So in this 15, 20 minutes, I'm not going to be thinking. Let's here. Let's be all here. Yep. So first one was touch. Second one was being present. Third is active listening. Tell me what we meant by that active listening. Yeah. I mean, it has different terms, but it's really where when someone shares something with you and you go, uh -huh, uh -huh, that's not really active listening. You can't be like, did you hear me? You know, we've all had those moments. Active listening is where you give them feedback. You might not, not as a parrot, you're not a little parrot bird, you know, repeating exactly what they say, but you re you repeat back to them. to let them know, oh wow, that sounds like a really hard day or wow, you had a lot of fun, you know, whatever on that field trip that you went on and you, it's a way of letting your saying enough back to them so that they know. that they were really heard and empathy, weave some empathy into that. If you heard any feelings, could be excitement, sad, anger, frustration, you're sort of repeating that back to them and you're engaging in the conversation, not just going, uh -huh, yeah. Yeah, and we also put on this active listening, we put empathy as part of that, but also the idea of checking in, you know? Is that get into the habit of checking in with them. And I think what's so great about that, and the way I like it, that word is that kind of saying is then the kid gets into this habit of every day I know mom or dad or both are gonna check in with me. Yeah. And the reason why I think that's so important Sara is I think stuff happens all day long. And when we don't do that, too many times when I've been coaching families and they're not doing that, the kids get out of the habit of checking in with you. And they're not really like throughout the day, things are happening, tons of things are happening and they're not thinking, I wanna go tell mom and dad that. Like I remember as a kid, I'm sure you did too, where things happen, take notes, tell mom and dad that, I wanna go tell. But then if there's not time to check in, if we're just getting too busy, if mom and dad are too stressed and don't have time for that. I stop, I stopped checking in with them. Yeah. Yeah. And then you get a pile of things and time goes by and sometimes you find out later, you find out this big thing happened. What that happened. Your friend is no longer talking to you or something, but you want them to know that each day you're there for them and they'll just kind of naturally start storing something up to tell you. If you have this habit and you've built this over time, They know that if something, especially, especially we want to help them, right? So especially something in the day that was troubling, they can kind of just put it on that shelf that I can, I can let this go. I can release it to mom and dad later. You know, they'll check in with me and it's something that I can hand off and I'll have to carry this by myself. Well, and you know, Sara, what I hope all listeners can hear this, this warning is when you don't get into the habit of checking in too many times, what I hear from kids is kids and when something happens in their relationship, their friendships or things like that. And I'll say. Do you think mom and dad would want to hear about that? And they say, yes. Why don't you tell them? There's just too much backstory. I don't want to share all that. And because they haven't told them anything for quite some time, even though in this moment, they think their parents are a resource, and they actually somewhat want to tell them, but then they think, that's going to take a long time. And I really don't want to do all that Because they missed all the little stories along Yeah, and the kid's like, I don't even know what they know about that kid now. And now I have to go tell them all. And maybe they'll get mad about that part of the stories. I'm not going to tell them. So because there hasn't been checking in along the way. And I would add this too, the stuff we're sharing is great for kids. I know I keep going back to this, but it's been so beneficial for our marriage that. what's too many parents once the kids come along and life gets busier, some of them might even be good at checking in with their kids because they get into a nighttime routine where they're sitting with them in bed and saying good night to them and that gives the kids space. But then the parents aren't doing that. And so I really appreciate the fact that you and I have been intentional. Every night, I know either you're gonna ask me how it was with the kids or I'm gonna ask you how it was or you're gonna ask how my day was, I'll ask you how your day was. And there's always a checking in before we go to bed. Every day, I'm thinking of things I wanna share with you and events I wanna do. want to include you in on and you the same way you know and even if we've been on we're on a trip we're not even in the same house maybe we're out of state or something we still call each other and expect that to happen you know and we we genuinely want to listen and hear about it yeah you staying current and present in their life yeah even even in a short amount of time that's still doable for a time period. So the fourth one, so what we've done touch is important, being completely present and then showing active listening. So the fourth one, this is very, very important. You got a little bit of time. it gotta make it fun, you know? Like use some play, use some humor, don't take yourself or them too serious. This is a time to see people smiling, laughing, right? And why is that so important with the kid if you have this little time, Sara? Well, laughter releases these happy things that helps you connect with people and in our brains and we get all happy. So. We want that. We want to be drawn to you're looking forward to and play brings you together. So even though we're saying doing the check -in, that's what we're saying. Don't don't do it about chores or their grades or find out there's something big and maybe you need to talk about it. Maybe you just need to listen. Yeah. But make sure you include some play in there too. Yeah. So once again, it's not a time that's serious, although serious topics may come up. Right. And of course that's okay. But your goal isn't to go in. with this like serious intent. Tell me about the worst parts of your day. Look at me son. I'm trying to talk to you right now and connect. You know like you want to make it fun so you might go in there and maybe the kids reading and seems annoyed by you coming in. Oh what are you reading? What's this part about right? And then maybe you cuddle up next to them. Maybe they put their head on your shoulder and they start showing you the book. Cool this is the moment you know. That's great. Yeah. So I want... I hope what you hear us saying is these moments don't need to be big, big moments. That what you're building is a bunch of little moments each day that when those big events happen, you're the go -to. Yeah. You know, you're the person, the kids like, oh, that big thing happened, my friend, I can't wait to tell mom or dad, because I know there will be a moment at nighttime just before I go to bed or right at dinner, they're going to ask me or on the car ride home, they're going to, oh, that's going to be my chance. Because I'm telling you, Sara, you know this, the kids have this like big backpack full of feelings that are coming from the day and. You want them to get in the habit of unloading that. Basically, it's like, hey, look at my dad. And they're just pulling it out of their backpack and showing you what happened each day. But if you don't have that, Sara, I've just spoke with so many kids who wanted it. And then they just got used to it not being there. So now they don't even expect it. And then now when the parents want it, the kid's confused. The kid feels like it's just going to be a lecture time. It's going to be like, no, your parent just wants to enjoy you. But the kid doesn't trust it. that road back can be really, really hard. And if you're gonna err, err on the side of just connecting and having fun. Yeah, I'm even thinking of a story, Sara, where this one family, I remember I've been helping this teenage kid for a while. And the teenager, the whole time I've been helping the kid, I'd spoken to his mother, but I never actually really, he never said anything about the father. And so I was thinking that the whole time as I'm hearing his story, I'm like, is he from a single parent home? Maybe he's just a single mom thing. So when I met with the mom, I was like, are you married? I guess I missed that in the original time that we spoke. Yeah, I know, I said, I thought you were, but he never mentions the dad. Oh, their relationship isn't all that great. He expects dad to get upset at him whenever they talk, right? So then one session, I missed him for a few weeks and he came back and I got to meet with the kid and this kid's like 15 or something. I came over, how old is he? But somewhere and the kid, they started telling me all these stories about dad. And I was like, wow, this is interesting. So when I talked to the mom, I asked what happened and she said, oh, they went on a trip together. And I specifically told him, when you're on this trip, do not lecture him, do not criticize him, just enjoy him. And the look on this kid's face, like all of a sudden he couldn't talk about that enough. It was like he was just waiting to have that reconnection. So I even want to encourage those families where maybe it does seem like a bridge way too far. And in this case, it did seem like a bridge really went too far. Yeah, it could feel really, how do I get back? Trust us, every kid wants that connection with you. They do. And they just don't know how to bridge that big gap. And so many times it starts just with these little, little steps. you know, and it may even start in some way. I encourage some families just as an added, it's like a fifth one will add a bonus. I like, I like to encourage parents say if it's hard, if you're having a hard time after school, finding out about their day, make it fun and just say, Hey, I'm gonna think of three things every day to tell you. And would you think of three things to tell me? And I tell them, it doesn't make it like make them silly things. Like they're not like serious things, right? Like today I saw a red car and in that red car was a guy picking his nose, right? So you, as the, as the adult when you're sharing the three, you just make it fun. And I find every time then the kid at first will be hard because they're not used to doing that. But then then they start remembering those three and it makes this check and stuff a lot easier and go a lot smoother, you know. And once you get to the habit of it, they're in the habit of it. It really does. It almost like little things start finding a little place because you know that's going to happen later. and they're excited to tell you. And so the goal for this Sara is in these connection times is 15 to 20 minutes, no matter how busy you are, you can find that time or make that time. Don't find it, make it. I'd be glad you do. The goal is for the kid to feel more connected with you. to feel seen and heard and then gives them an opportunity to really share what's going on in their heart even in this small amount of time, right? And so that is the ultimate goal. So I hope that was helpful to you, especially you busy parents who are listening. Definitely, we love it when you are able to take time to review, to give us five stars. That's really awesome. We're always just so honored to read those reviews and see how we're touching families, share the podcast with other people and really hope this gives you some tangible ways to start connecting with your kid today. 

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