Ask any parent how life is going, and I guarantee the number one word you'll hear is "busy." We're all racing around, tending to our jobs, our kids' homework and activities, trying to squeeze in "quality time" as best we can. It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and feel like there's never any time for more meaningful connections. I get it.
I also know that even ten minutes can be enough time to reconnect with your kids.
Here's ten different questions you can ask your child when you only have ten minutes (they're perfect for the car as you shuttle to and from activities, by the way!) to chat. You may be surprised at how just a few minutes on the right topic can make you feel better about communicating with your kids.
1) What are you reading right now? What's it about? My kids are always buried in a book (or, in my daughter's case, three or four at once). Asking them to tell me about it gets them talking, and makes an easy entry into them talking about what matters to them ("I like it because...").
2) I'm going for groceries; anything in particular you want to eat this week? This may not seem like much of a conversation piece, but it makes even young kids feel like their preferences are being heard. If they request nothing but junk, it gives me the opportunity to talk to them about healthy eating choices, and if they request a meal we haven't had in a while, I get to say, "Hey, I wonder why I haven't made that recently. Great idea!" Everyone wins.
3) How's [insert friend's name here] doing?" My kids are like most, in that asking "How was school today?" invariably elicits nothing more than "Fine" in response. By asking after a friend, it's kind of a side door to accessing their day. Either you get, "Oh, listen to what he did" or "She said the funniest thing!" or you'll get "Oh, I didn't play with him today, I played with [other kid]" and then you have a new direction to probe. I find that particularly with my daughter, knowing which friends matter to her make her much more likely to talk.
4) If you had $100 to spend on anything you wanted, what would you buy? It's silly and somewhat pointless, but sometimes the answer will surprise you.
5) What's the title of your autobiography, and who's going to play you in the made-for-TV movie? My daughter and I currently have a running joke about "Tragical, the Musical" being the story of her adolescence. Meanwhile, my son hasn't quite figured out that Ben 10 isn't a real person and therefore cannot depict him in the movie.
6) What do you think the dog does when we're not home? I guess you can't do this one without a pet. But the answers to this one always crack me up.
7) What's the funniest thing that happened to you today? Again, being more specific than "How was school?" or "How was your day?" can pay off.
8) What should we plant in our garden this year? We had a blast growing food for the first time, last summer. The mileage we've gotten out of discussing the next garden astounds even me. And yes, Virginia, kids are a lot more likely to be adventurous with their eating when they've helped to grow the food. Some of their requests are hilarious. ("Are there any beans that have polka-dotted pods? I think we should get some of THOSE.")
9) Wanna dance? Okay, this one may be cheating. For one thing, I don't recommend it in the car (ha!), and for another, any conversation is going to be incidental. As kids get older and too "cool" for cuddling, a quick spin across the kitchen floor is a great way to get your hands on them, hold 'em tight and have a good giggle.
10) If we were going to rearrange the family room furniture, what would you do differently? Again, you're not asking because you're actually going to do anything, but the answers may surprise you. One time my son told me that the "comfy" chair is too far away from the rest of the seating, and he has to choose between his favorite perch and being closer to the rest of us. Interesting.
I'm sure you can come up with others. The main thing to remember is that ten minutes can be plenty of time to reconnect, no matter how you do it!
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