Connecting with your child as a working parent

image credit: Marcin Moga

It is a daily battle for me to connect with my kids. It is not an instantly obvious desire. My instincts when I get home typically revolve around self-preservation, so I need to work to be giving, and thoughtful towards my kids. Maybe for you this is not a challenge, and you come home ready to dive in to lego’s and playtime – then awesome, not sure why you are here.

But if you are a working dad, and you want to connect with your child, but don’t know how – or maybe you are just fresh out of ideas.  I hope this post can help. These are a few things I like to do – and I need more ideas too – so if you have any ideas, please share them in the comments!

Connect with your child during:

  1. Bath time!  Since my kids are just 14 months apart, I combine their bath times. It is a typically stressful experience, honestly. But, it is very valuable time together. I get to play with toys, talk to them. Make them laugh, and play in the bath. One of my favorites; trying to find the HexBug Aquabot as it swims under the bubbles – I get nothing for promoting this. I genuinely love the toy. Great for tubs that aren’t steel since it has magnets!
  2. Errand Runs: Kids love getting out of the house. It is easy to just run out and go grab something and not want to bring your kids along for brevity’s sake. However, a car ride together is great connecting time for kids. Sing a song on the way to the supermarket, or post office. Talk while you shop – take a moment to let them help you pick items that you need.
  3. Dadurday! I call Saturday, Dadurday. It is just an easy day to set apart time for your kids. After breakfast I love bringing my boys to this awesome park that has a fenced toddler area. Typically I run into many dads doing the same thing – connecting with their kids. Movies, ice cream runs, hiking, even your jog – these are all moments where your kids could be with you. Get ideas for Dadurday activities in the Bay Area here.
  4. Dedicated 1:1 time: look, I am no dad-guru, but at it’s most basic, if you work in a job you get 1:1’s with a boss, at least once a month if not more frequent. If you have multiple children, make one on one time so you can connect with each child. Each child you have is unique, and making time for each of them now, will pay dividends as they mature. If you give your children dedicated time and respect their individual needs, they will expect the same treatment from others as they mature and will know that their dad values them. It fills up their feelings of self-worth and you can never start too young. As much as I hang with both of my boys – I need to make sure I give them each dedicated one on one time.
  5. Digital connections: Text them, email them, FaceTime them, Skype, whatever it takes. Reach out to your kids. Don’t just call them. I personally hate VM’s – I love talking to my parents and love hearing their voices – but they always wait for me to call them. I wish they called me more. I have a son across the country, and I do my best to FaceTime him and connect at least 3X a week, besides my trips out East. Play video games together – be interested in them – that will teach them to engage with others and their interests – including yours.

It is hard when you have a Full-Time job, or two or more jobs, to make time for your kids. But you really have to make it a priority. These are connections that will pay dividends for years, not just for their lives, but for yours. You won’t ever wish you stayed at work for one more hour, you won’t ever hope that you got to send one more email – no. What you will wish for is one more hug, one more laugh and one more smile from the ones you love.

Make. The. Time.

Your kids may already be craving connection time. Try it out – and if you have tips or feedback, please come back and post it below.



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