Elizabeth Florio

“Mom, are you listening? Mom? MOM!” 

If you’re like me, it’s not just your phone that distracts you from your children. It’s your thoughts, constantly charging ahead to craft that email reply, plan that grocery list, schedule that appointment, etc. Your body lives in the present but your mind in the future, working out logistics.

When you need to take a breath, reset the dial to now, and connect with your kids, consider these mindful (and fun) bonding activities.

"Your body lives in the present but your mind in the future, working out logistics."
  1. Don’t just cook together. Be connoisseurs together. Train your child’s senses and fine-tune your own by smelling spices as you add them, tasting your dish along the way, and critiquing the end product.
  2. Say “ahhhh” together. It’s hard out there for kids too. Treat yourselves to a spa day, even if that means lighting some candles and smearing on drugstore face masks. 
  3. Call it a date. Get out of the house with no purpose but to enjoy each other. Eat in when you’d otherwise order out. Take a trip to the park, but put away your phone and play. 
  4. Read to—or with—your child. Even after your child has graduated to independent reading, she may still appreciate your rendition of Shel Silverstein’s “Naked Hippo” (my personal favorite). Or grab separate books and snuggle up on the couch together.
  5. Have a staring contest. No, really. It’s fun, silly, and a quick hit of sustained eye contact— something your child probably craves.
  6. Be do-gooders. Volunteering with your kid is a win-win in that you spend quality time together and make a positive impact in your community. (Volunteers also enjoy a boost in mental and physical health.) Good service opportunities for younger children include cleanup days at parks, shopping for other children’s wish lists, and fundraising walks/runs.
  7. Plant a garden. Whether in a raised bed in the backyard or a container on the balcony, gardening is a proven stress-reliever for people of all ages. Bonus: Kids get a lesson in science and inspiration to eat their veggies. 
  8. Look at old photos. Scrolling through your phone will do in a pinch, but hopefully you’ve printed some hard copies (otherwise what will future generations know about us after the apocalypse?). You’ll both feel warm-and-fuzzy seeing that once-tiny baby that fit in the crook of your arm.
  9. Be observers of nature. This is an especially fun game for younger kids: Go to a greenspace—or just out in the yard—and see who can spot an animal first. Or gather flowers or fall leaves to press in a book.
  10. Try something new together—like improv, an art class, or indoor skydiving, to name a few ideas. Studies have shown that couples who try new activities together feel more relationship satisfaction, so the same probably holds true for kids and parents. You also set an example for your child to be curious and adventurous.


Of course, you can’t go wrong with a simple snuggle session, a good long chat (one where you spend more time listening than talking), or just quiet time together where phones and to-do lists are banished.

Elizabeth Florio
Elizabeth Florio is an Atlanta-based writer and editor and mom of two small children. She loves when her "jobs" intersect and she gets to write about the joys and woes of parenting, even if, like everyone else, she's still figuring it all out.

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