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5 Simple ways to connect with your kids each day (and what kids have to say about it)

Lisa Steinke, with Liz Fenton, is the co-author of the debut chick lit novel l'll Have Who She's Having and the popular Chick Lit blog chicklitisnotdead.com.

From the mouths of babes

Many moms often feel guilty that they should be spending more time with their children. But finding simple ways to connect with your kids each day means a lot to them. How do we know? They told us!

mom talking with young daughter

Connect through chores

Mom's point of view

At first read, that might sound like an unusual way to bond. But to Ann, mother of six from Pennsylvania, it's her favorite way to connect. "The benefit is twofold: more work gets done, and I've found that as kids are busily engaged in meaningful tasks, they tend to talk more freely," Ann says. "For this reason, I like to buddy up with kids one at a time on chores so that I can really learn what's going on in their lives. Helping a child to fold and put away laundry works well, as does taking on a child partner to help prepare dinner. Pulling weeds also gets them talking!"

Kids' point of view

So how do her kids feel about this? "Of course, they don't neccessarily think of these times as fun," Ann admits. "But we've always instilled in our kids the idea that everyone contributes to the family, so they don't really question the idea of doing the work. And I learned long ago that if I ask my kids questions like, 'How was your day?', I tend to get monosyllabic answers or grunts in response."

Connect through talking

Mom's point of view

Lisa, mother of two from California, uses quiet time at the end of each day to connect with her 5-year-old daughter. "Every night we make sure to read at least one book before bed," she says. "My husband and I think of it as our time to connect with our daughter, cuddle and talk about happenings of the day. Sometimes I'll also ask her about her favorite and worst part of the day so we can discuss any accomplishments or challenges."

Kid's point of view

"I asked her about her favorite way to connect or spend time with Mommy and Daddy," Lisa says. "Without hesitation, her response was, 'Go to the fair.' Thinking maybe she didn't understand the question, I rephrased and said it doesn't have to be a special occasion -- it could be something we do every day. Reading books didn't even crack the top five! The perspective of a 5-year-old..."

Classic books to read with your kids >>

Connect through dinner time

Mom's point of view

Heather, mom of two from North Carolina, uses dinner time to get her children to open up. "We have a box that holds quick family dinner table games written on cards, and the kids love it," she says. "My son likes to act as the master of ceremonies and "read" the card. For example, in one game, one person closes his eyes and everyone else takes something from the table and hides it on their lap. When the person opens his eyes, he tries to guess what is missing. Once we get them talking, they are more likely to keep talking about their day and what they did in school. "

Kid's point of view

Heather's 4-year-old son puts it simply. "I like to play knights and dragons. Mom and Dad are the dragons!"

Connect through staying present

Mom's point of view

Nellie, mother of four from California, connects with her children by staying present and treating every moment like it's a gift.

Kids' point of view

Nellie's kids may not use the same words to describe the feeling of living in the moment, but they do appreciate their time with Mom.

Her son, 7, says, “I love hanging out with Mommy and playing Monopoly and drawing.”

Her son, 10, adds, “My favorite time with my mommy is when she plays the ball war game with me.”

Nellie's daughter, 10, says, “I love when my mommy tucks me into bed each night and I love when my mommy takes me to Pinkberry to get yogurt as a sweet treat."

Connect through love notes

Mom's point of view

Melissa, mother of three from Maryland, likes to cuddle with all of her children. With her older son, she also connects by sending love notes in his lunchbox. "He gets a huge smile on his face whenever I tell him to expect a note," she says.

Kids' point of view

"When I first asked him, my 6-year-old son said he likes to connect with me by going to Pump it Up," Melissa says. "Then I explained how if we only connected when we went to Pump it Up, we wouldn't be connecting much. Then he said he wanted to play a video game about America with me (I have no idea what that means!).

"My 4-year-old son likes to connect by playing board games and cuddling. I told him how I like cuddling too."

Lisa Scottoline -- Save me & Come Home book covers

Life vs. fiction

Want more? Check out two great reads in the new SheKnows Book Lounge by bestselling author Lisa Scottoline: Come Home and Save Me. Two riveting novels about the extraordinary lengths mothers will go to for their children. Head to our new SheKnows Book Lounge now.

More ways to connect

7 Ways to connect with your kids this week
10 Simple ways to bond with kids
When you can't be there: 20 Ways to stay connected to your kids

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