After writing about the importance of deeply connecting with our kids last week (read that post here), I got thinking about how I could spend more time doing just that with my 3 year old son, Onetime.
I decided to create a visual menu of fun ways to connect that I can use on a daily basis with my son, and I’m offering them here today as a free printable resource!
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Connecting Can Be Hard!
Playing does not come easily for me like it does for my husband. I seem to find it really hard sometimes to slow down and really be in the moment.
There have been too many days when I’ve gotten caught up in the day-to-day menial tasks of life, and not fully appreciated this time with my son. It’s far too easy to start making dinner when we walk in the door instead of playing together and enjoying each other’s company for a few minutes.
On top of that, I’m far more comfortable reading a book to my son, or going for a walk outside, playing board games, or doing just about anything that has a beginning and an ending.
Open-ended, unstructured play with my son is hard for me to do and sometimes feels really awkward!
In any case, after reading and writing about how important it is to play with our kids (for at least 10 minutes a day), I have been making a concerted effort to slow down a bit and really try to savour the time I have with my son while he’s small.
Unexpected Benefits of Unstructured Play
After a solid week of really just trying to be aware of how much my son loves it when I engage with him at his level doing what he wants – and actually doing it (even when it feels a little awkward at times for me) – I can honestly say I’ve been having fun!
Adding in 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there each day of pure playtime has brought a lot of joy to my house over the last week.
My son has started saying, “I love you Mommy!” a LOT more (and at strangely random times!). I’ve been getting lots more spontaneous hugs and kisses, and we’ve had lots of fun “moments” with shared eye contact and laughter.
As an aside, we’ve been having a difficult time with potty training for the last few months, with 2 to 3 accidents a day not being out of the norm. Since last week when I started making a concerted effort to play daily with my son, we’ve had maybe 2 accidents in total?
I’m convinced that this extra concentrated play time has made the difference!
Connection Coupons as a Play Prompt
So what does this have to do with Connection Coupons? Well, I thought it might be a neat idea to make up a visual inspiration book for those times when I have 10 or 15 minutes and I want to connect and play with my son.
To start, I took photographs of a bunch of activities (32 to be exact) that I thought that kids ages 1 to 10 might like to do with their parents, and I made them into coupon strips.
How to Use the Coupons to Connect
To use these connection coupons, you can either cut them up individually or create a little booklet with them.
If you cut them up individually, you could store them in a jar and have your child pick one out at random as a surprise activity!
Or laminate them, punch a hold in one end of each and make them into a little flip book on a keyring.
If you decide to make a little connection inspiration book, cut each 8 x 10″ printable sheet in half, and you will have a 4 x 6″ grouping of 4 coupons. Perfect size for sliding into a small photo album!
You can look through the book together with your child/children and have them choose what activity they’d like to do with you!
Because each coupon has pictures, even toddlers and kids who are not yet speaking can decide what appeals to them and point to a desired activity.
As Lawrence J. Cohen, author of Playful Parenting (one of my favourite parenting books!), says, it’s important that you are engaging with your kids in a way that they choose.
So remember, with any of these activities, the point is to get on their level, follow their lead, let go of the control, and have fun!
To download your free copy of these colourful and inspiring Connection Coupons, click on the picture below.
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Have fun connecting!
Katie Pinch says
These are adorable, thanks for sharing!!!
Sue Lively says
Thanks Katie! We’ve been using them every day since I printed them, and balloons has been a favourite every time! LOL Thanks for dropping by!
I love these coupons!! What a great idea!
Sue Lively says
Thanks so much Viviana. They took forever to make (since I’m not the printable queen like you!) – but they’ve really been worth it!