Make a “contact List” for Each of Your Children

Parents have a lot to do in a day. There are places to go, food to cook, work to be completed, and dishes to be washed. In the midst of all of this, it may seem impossible to prioritize actual communication and communication with our children. Of course, we want to communicate with them! But we also need to make the spaghetti and place the food on the table before it’s time to go to lacrosse training.

Rachel Garlinghouse writes for Scary Mommy that she solves this riddle by making a so-called “contact list” for each of her four children:

I had an idea. What if I made a list of specific, effective ways to spend time with each of my children, ways that they love and respond to? Instead of always trying to create shallow moments on demand, what if I was proactive and prepared? Will it work?

I pulled out a notebook and wrote the name of each child at the top, and then I started jotting down what they enjoy doing with their parents.

I love this because often, when we are in the middle of the day, we see that our children are hungry for at least a little interaction with us. But thinking about how to do it while you’re already multitasking is another thing your brain doesn’t have time for. But if you have a pre-prepared list of ideas already hanging on your fridge, you can look at it and think: “Oh, I’ll send it upstairs to take your favorite book and read together while I wait for the water to boil.” …

The list can – and probably should – include a mix of quick, spontaneous ideas and ideas with more serious commitments that you put off when you have an unexpected time window or special one-on-one “Date.”

Quick connect ideas might include reading a book, uploading your favorite song to Spotify and a four-minute dance party, playing Go Fish, or bringing them along alone to walk the dog.

More serious ideas to keep close at hand might include baking their favorite cupcakes together, a more in-depth board game, doing an art project, or taking a long bike ride through the park.

Make a list of what each child likes. And if you need more inspiration, just ask them. They may enjoy doing things with you that you are not even aware of.

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