child and parent coloring, ways parents and children can connect and bondWith all the hats we wear as moms, it’s no wonder we are often overwhelmed. If you’re a mother, you almost certainly understand what it feels like to be be disconnected from yourself, your loved ones, or your kids. 

Our children are no different! No matter a child’s age, personality, or the ways they’ve been parented, our kids will feel overwhelmed and disconnected at times — and they show this in a variety of ways. They can’t always verbalize what it means to feel overwhelmed, and they are often unable to articulate what is causing them to feel distressed. But our kids seek us out to help them connect and regulate. We are their calm in the storm of feelings.

So what do we do when we notice we are needing some calm for ourselves at the same time our kids are needing connection? Oof. This is a tall order. These can be some of the hardest moments in parenting. But there are some rituals we can participate in to intentionally connect with our children in our day-to-day lives — to help fill their cups and our own!

Here are some of our family’s bonding routines and activities that help both parent and child feel connected and present.

1. Create a weekly ritual to transition into the school week

On Monday mornings before school, my son and I have some coloring time together. I set the timer for whatever amount of time we have before we need to rush out of the house to get to school — sometimes this may be just five minutes. I put my phone away, we put some music on, and we color together. For some families, this before-school activity could be playing a quick card game or having some Lego time together.

2. Take a Sunday drive

A ride in the car together can be such a great time to get calm and be together. We turn the music on, put the windows down on a warm day, and enjoy a snack. My son often requests extra time in the car to cruise around, check out the scenery, and maybe even stop for a treat. We have had some of our best conversations on these drives. 

3. Make something together

Is there an art project or craft you can do together? A few months ago I started “make it together Monday.” We make dinner together on Mondays, and my son helps decide the menu. Does this mean we often eat grilled cheese sandwiches on Mondays? You bet!

4. Love something your kid loves!

For us, this has meant becoming a sports family. I have never been what anyone would describe as a sports aficionado — that was my late husband’s thing. But, my son loves sports, so now I am a sports mom. My son teaches me what he knows, we look things up when we want to know more, and we cheer on his favorite sports teams together. I see the joy in his face when I ask him questions and when he sees me cheering on the Bruins

5. Try a bedtime feelings check-in

When it comes to connecting with our children, being clued in to their emotions is key. Doing a bedtime feelings check-in can be a great way to see how your child’s day was, emphasizing not the events that occurred but the emotions the child experienced. I always learn something new about my son when we run through a few different emotions. This has taken on different iterations over the years, and most recently my son likes using colors to represent different emotions. He also insists that I do the check-in, too, which can be a great opportunity to model that adults make mistakes and feel nervous, too!

Sara Noone
Sara was raised in Connecticut and after a few years of enjoying West Coast living in San Francisco, she landed in Boston in 2003 for graduate school. Sara is a Clinical Social Worker who has worked in a variety of roles with children, families and adults. After several years working in community mental health, in 2012, Sara started a psychotherapy practice and she also continues to wear the hat of being a School Counselor. In 2009, she met her future husband — a North Shore native, who loved studying history, coaching hockey & being a teacher— a kindhearted guy with witty sense of humor. After several years of being a duo, they joyfully welcomed their beautiful son in 2017. In 2019, Sara and her son experienced a devastating and life-changing loss with the unexpected death of her husband. She believes in the importance of normalizing grief and talking about the hard parts of life, while also embracing joy. She has always loved cooking and trying new recipes. Sara and her son live in Swampscott. During the summer months they can be found at the beach, going on adventures, chasing down the ice cream truck, relaxing on their front porch and hanging out with family and friends. They love all that living in a coastal North Shore town has to offer!


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