4 Ways to Connect as a Family (even after working all day)
I’ll be the first to admit it.
Connecting with my kids has changed since I started working outside the home a year and a half ago. For me, it’s been more difficult.
While I don’t work a high-stress job, I still come home feeling a little bit spent. And while I used to connect with my kids through crafting, creating, and role-playing activities…. these things feel much harder at 5:00pm when I walk in the door. I’m guessing I’m not alone.
So how do we connect with our kids in a way that doesn’t take a ton of prep work, allows us to have fun, AND helps our family to connect in the [sometimes really short] window between dinner and bed?
I have some ideas. I’d like to hear yours too!
Read a good book.
Not all families will find reading together to be fun, but if you pick the right book, you just might find it’s a great way to bond. Sometimes we’ll read aloud together, but even that can feel too mentally exhausting after a long day. SO, on days when reading aloud for 30 minutes feels like too much effort, we listen to an audiobook together instead.
We download the book to the ipod, connect it to bluetooth, grab a beverage, and hang out in the living room or bedroom together while we listen. Sometimes the kids will carry in coloring/drawing supplies so they can doodle while they listen. It’s nice to enjoy the story together and then it gives us good discussion material for another day!
Start an art project.
I know, I said simple. Because we’re tired. And an art project sounds complex and messy. But it really doesn’t have to be.
Generally we try to keep a bunch of basic art supplies in our craft closet– they can be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Paper, watercolors, markers, paint, pastels, scissors, glue, etc.
Then, I pick a small art activity from a book that tells me what to do. These aren’t elaborate and they don’t necessarily have an end goal. It’s more about the process.
I’ve found some good ideas in Art Lab for Kids by Susan Schwake. While some of these creative adventures are a bit more complex, many require few supplies, and focus more on activity or technique. Scribble drawings, drawing with an eraser, watercolor shapes, and paper family quilts are all activities that are perfect for this time of day.
Another place I’ve had luck finding ideas is from The Artful Parent. Some are as simple as giving everyone a stamp pad, a piece of paper, and a pencil. Yep, I can do that.
After dinner, leave the mess (you can get to it later!), lace up your shoes, and head outside. Take a family jog. Walk to the playground. Play hopscotch. Draw with chalk. Shoot some hoops. Whatever. Just be outside.
If we all have a decent amount of energy, we like to walk to the nearby grocery store, buy a box of fresh fruit popsicles, and eat them on the walk back home. There is zero prep-work to this, but it’s something the kids remember!
We live close to some nature trails and a lake, so we’ve benefited from some ideas in 50 Evening Adventures. Each idea is super straightforward: River, Street, Build Something, Clean Up Something. Choose a page, read it aloud, and make it happen! I like this book because it’s created for busy families and all of these ideas are ones that can be done after work/after school and outside. I am absolutely the book’s exact audience– when my brain isn’t working, this book gives me ideas.
Build with Legos
Okay, so maybe you don’t like to build with Legos or you child isn’t really into it. I get it, but hear me out.
I love Legos. Probably too much. My kids know that I’m always up for Legos.
Playing dolls? No. Video games? Eh, sometimes. Nerf gun fights? Probably not.
But Legos? Yes. EVERY TIME, yes. Bring me the lego bin, child.
Do you have this kind of thing? An activity that you actually enjoy doing– with or without kids alongside you? Well, suggest that!
If you are a work-outside-the-home parent, how do you connect as a family after a long day at work? What rhythms or activities are working well these days?
p.s. A huge thanks to the Quarto group for suggesting some of these great books (and thanks for sending me a couple to look at!) If you’re not familiar with Quarto, jump on over and check out their line of books. SO GOOD. Go, go, go.