It’s important to find time to connect with your child every day, even when you work full time. There is a lot of research on the amount and quality of time that parents spend with their children and how it effects their relationship and future outcomes. 

“It’s about having a warm, physical connection, talking to them, playing with them, being responsive to them. You don’t have to be at home all day to do that,” says Dr Markham. “Children have to feel they get enough of you, whether you’re in the house or not.”

Oxytocin is a chemical in the brain released during times when a person feels love and connection. It has been shown to help parents bond with their children, adding a sense of trust and support between them. This bond most likely helps our brain produce and use oxytocin, causing a child to feel more positive emotions.

Based on the above research and ideas about finding times to connect with your child one on one, look into their eyes, hug them and listen to them…

Here are 15 times of the day when you can find a few minutes to talk, engage and enjoy the connection with your child.

1. When getting your child out of bed in the morning – Start the day with a big kiss and cuddle, tell your child you missed them, ask how they slept (even if they can’t talk you can talk to them as though they can). Tell them what the plan is for the day.

2. When changing their nappy – This is a great time to have a little chat, tickle, sing a song with your child. It’s also a great time to give them a big cuddle when you put them down on the change table (or floor, or mat) and again when you pick them up.

3. When making and eating breakfast – Even if they are too young to talk, you can ask them what they’d like for breakfast, toast or Weetbix for example and they will likely respond in some way to you (they may point). 

4. While packing bags – Have some random dance time after breakfast, if you aren’t running late. I like to put a song on and dance around the kitchen holding my child and singing to them. They usually laugh and find it very funny if I spin them around and sing. 

5. When getting them dressed – It’s a good time to talk about what to wear, what colour are their socks etc. You can also get in a little cuddle at this time. This is one of my favourite moments, as I get to hug my child with just his nappy on and hold his whole body close to me.

6. When walking out to the car – Take them by the hand (or carry them depending on their age) and count the steps together or have a look at the flowers in the garden, or the clouds in the sky. Have a quick chat on the way to the car. 

7. When putting them in the car and doing up their seat belt – Pick them up and give them a squeeze as your put them in the car. Say “clip” as you clip in the seat belt and they will tend to copy you. 

8. When dropping them off – Get down to your child’s level and say goodbye, give them a hug, say have lovely day, ask them who they are going to play with today. 

9. When picking them up – Pick up your child, tell them you missed them, and give them a huge hug and kiss. Ask them about their day, what did they have for lunch, did they create/draw/paint anything, who did they play with, did they go outside? 

10. When giving them a bath in the evening – Kids need to be supervised in the bath, so it’s a great time to get a few minutes with them. You can play with ducks and boats in the bath, use bath crayons to draw on the bath and your child. 

11. When giving them dinner – Similarly to breakfast time, you can discuss what you’re going to have for dinner. Talk about the colours of the food, why they are healthy (e.g. carrots are good for your vision, protein helps build muscle). 

12. When brushing their teeth – You may do this in the bath or at a different time. You can talk to them about their teeth and all the parts of their mouth they need to brush. It’s a good chance to get down to their level and look in their mouth and their little face. 

13. When getting them into their pyjamas – You can talk to them about what a nice day it was, something nice that happened today or if something not so nice happened how tomorrow is a new day. Again a great time for a kiss and cuddle.

14. When reading a book before bed – This is a really nice time to connect, ask your child to choose a book and then read together. If they are quite young but can talk you can ask what’s happening on the pages, what animals they see, you don’t have to just “read” the book. 

15. Bedtime feed – If your child has a bottle or or breastfeed before bed, you can hold them in your arms and get them to relax. This is a good time to sing softly to your child, look into their little face and enjoy them. Hug them close. When two humans hold each other closely for an extended period oxytocin is released which feels great.

Finish off the day with a little chat; if they are old enough ask how they are feeling, talk about what will happen tomorrow (e.g. kinder, weekend, a party). You may want to have a little night time ritual such as doing round and round the garden on their hand, or laying with them for a few minutes. 

Connecting with your child every day will build your bond with them, and these will become moments that you will treasure and reflect back on when they grow. 

By Kristen Dias from Travel Karma.
Kristen created Travel Karma to help parents feel calm and prepared when getting on a long-haul flight with their children, knowing they would be captivated and engaged with educationally designed activities. Travel Karma’s activity packs don’t distract your kids, they Teach them.