By Jonah Berkowitz
Don’t Let Your Kids Become ...
Strangers in Your Own House!
he beginning of any school year presents a unique challenge to parents and kids alike. During the long, hot summer, parents have the tendency to find time to do fun things as a family.There are visits to the pool, vacations and movie afternoons in the cool air conditioning. Kids and parents alike enjoy grabbing an ice cream cone together.The days are long, and the possibilities endless. But something happens once school starts back in August. Suddenly, the kids are at school all day, and doing homework until dinner. Weekends can be spent by kids catching up with friends or with that homework that they never got around to doing. So just how are parents supposed to set aside the time to keep a connection with their kids when they also must take care of themselves? After all, there are bills to pay, lawns to mow, and toilets to clean. Never fear! We are here to provide some easy ideas to make sure parents and kids don’t become strangers to each other in their own houses.
Schedule “Dates” Look at your calendar ahead of time and schedule a date with your kids at least once a month. If you have more than one kid, make sure you have individual dates with each kid.
Do the Necessities Together Include kids in the things you must do anyway. When you are cooking, think about what parts of the cooking process a kid can do. Get a cutting knife that is kid sized (and not too sharp) for them to use. Let them rinse veggies, pour things into pans, and strip leaves from herbs. Not into cooking? Get them to help in the yard. Give the kids a small task in the garden to keep up, and work on it together. It doesn’t stop there, as plenty of things that seem like ‘chores’ to adults can feel like a fun activity for kids.
Put it on the calendar and do not cancel, no matter what.These can be as simple as going to your kid’s favorite restaurant or to a local bookstore.Take turns picking the date activity. This way, you can also open your kid up to new experiences.
Put the Phone (or Tablet) Down There is no denying that America in 2017 is an electronic world.We all have tiny computers sitting in our pockets or purses in the form of phones, and it’s almost impossible to go a day without using those devices. Dinner is the ideal time to put those devices away and just have family time.Talk about your day with your kids. Ask them about their day. Just put the electronic devices in another room, turn on some music, and enjoy being with your family.
Institute Family Reading Time Your kids probably have to read for school, so get together after dinner for family reading time. Even though nobody is talking, you’re all in the same room, doing the same activity.You might find that your kids even start asking about what you are reading out of curiosity. Tell them all about whatever it is you are reading.The most important part of family reading time is to make it sacred. Don’t allow
distractions like phone calls or the Internet to take away this time.
Take Weekend Family Trips A few times a year, schedule a family trip somewhere, even if it’s not for any real purpose. Think about the people or places you have always wanted to visit, get in the car, and go! In the Athens area, we live within a heartbeat of some incredible places.You don’t have to go too far to find adventure with your kids.
Plan a Movie Night Have a weekend movie night, and take turns picking the movie. One week, let your kids pick the movie, but the next week, pick a movie from your own childhood and share the experience of having your kids watch something you grew up with.There is something about seeing your kids watch Labyrinth for the first time that can warm even the coldest heart.Tell your kids that you are picking a movie that you used to watch as a kid and you may be surprised at how much they want to see it and talk about it.
Prioritize The biggest key to insuring that your kids don’t become strangers in your own house comes in the form of prioritizing your time with them. All parents need time for themselves to avoid becoming a stressed-out mess. Prioritize the parent-kid activities that are meaningful for you. If family reading time doesn’t work and leads to your kid complaining, don’t do it! If you find something else that isn’t on this list, but that feels meaningful, do it! We all have a limited amount of time in the day, but parents seem to have even less time than the average person. Don’t let the time suck of the back-to-school schedule cause havoc on your family. Pick a couple of these suggestions and try them out. ■ Jonah Berkowitz has previously written for other local publications. He is an instructor at Athens Technical College and lives in Athens with his wife and 6-yearold daughter.