10 Things You Can Do To Get To Know Your Young Kids Today- And Get Them To Know You

If you’re worried that you don’t spend enough time with your children, you’re not alone. If your worried that starting a new business will take up the little free time you have, and you won’t have any time left over to be a good dad, you’re not alone. Let’s face it. It isn’t easy being a successful business owner, or a successful anything, and a good dad.  If you’re like most dads I know, you leave for the office early in the morning and by the time you come home, the kids are either already asleep or almost there.  Even if they’re wake, you’re so tired you just want to go to a quiet room and chill.  I know this, because once upon a time, this was me.  That is why I can promise you that it doesn’t have to be that way.  This about me confronting the reality that my baby girl didn’t know me, and what I did to fix it.

When my oldest daughter was about a year and a half old, I was going through a difficult time with my business.  I had grown my business to the point where I needed help to get all of the work done, and I hired an assistant.  I spent a lot of time and money training this person, and just as I was entering into my busiest time of the year, they up and left me.  No notice, just didn’t show up. There was no time to get anyone else up to speed, so it was early to the office and late nights for couple months.  I’m talking in the office by 7 am, and there until after 10 pm.  I was hating life, and to make things worse, I suddenly realized that my daughter couldn’t possibly know who I was.

Don’t get me wrong, I was there for all the “big things.”  First steps, first words, all the great moments.  But she was just a baby after all, and she had no way of remembering what was happening when she was 6 months old. At a year and a half old, her world started a month ago, and I wasn’t spending enough time around her.  Of course she knew who I was, she knew I was her dad.  I mean she didn’t know me any more than some of our friends who would come around a lot, and this realization crushed me.  I had to make a change.

I also made some changes in the way I do business that will never put me in that position again, but that is for another post.  This is about the changes I made to get to know my daughter, and get her to know me.  I started doing some things that took very little time, but allowed us to really connect.  It made a huge difference in my life, because by prioritizing my family over my business, I realized I was able to have both.  My work still manages to get done, and my daughter and I now have a close, strong relationship (that will last until she is a teenager, and stops talking to me altogether).

So here is a list of ten things, in no particular order, that I do to spend time with my daughters ( I have 2 now) and you can do, to get to know your kids- and get them to know you.

  1. Make breakfast. Every morning, I make breakfast.  Now we’re not talking Belgian Waffles and Eggs Benedict here, we’re talking cereal, frozen waffles, yogurt, anything easy.  We go nuts on the weekends, but during the week, I have coffee and sit at the table and spend a little time with my oldest daughter. The baby will join this ritual when she gets a little older.  We have some of our best talks at breakfast.
  2. Go to breakfast. Similar to number 1, but my wife likes this one even more.  This is a weekend thing, and a lot of fun for my daughter.  Did you know that you can go to McDonald’s and get scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausage, hash browns, and coffee for under $5?  My wife deserves some quiet time  too, and I am glad to be able to make that happen now and then (as long as the baby cooperates).
  3. Bath time. My oldest is too old for this now, but when she was younger, I made sure that even if I missed dinner, I was home in time to give her a bath.  I’m starting to do this with our baby now, and I have to admit, it’s a blast.  She loves the bath, and it makes it easy to play and laugh together.  No matter how bad your day was, I dare you not melt when your kid laughs hysterically.
  4. Take walks. My oldest and I take a walk around the block every night after dinner, weather permitting.  Just around the block.  It only takes 15 minutes, but it’s another great chance to talk about what’s going on in her life.
  5. Read a bedtime story. Reading to your kids is so important for so many reasons.  My daughter loves books, and I think one of the reasons is that my wife and I have been reading to her since she was in the womb.  It’s great for babies too, because let’s face it, it’s hard to think of things to do with your baby.  Reading is always a winner.
  6. Cook with your kid. This is not a daily thing for us, but it’s a lot of fun.  You don’t even really need to know how to cook to do this.  I’ll let her crack and beat the eggs, if I make an omelet.  I let her roll some store bought dough, and we make pizza.  I let her roll a hot dog in some crescent roll dough and throw it in the toaster oven.  Let them make a mess and have some fun.
  7. Take your kid on errands with you. I don’t suggest taking them to wait in line for an hour at the Post Office, but a grocery run is fine.  You’re not going to set any records for speed or efficiency, but if you can spare an extra few minutes to get things done, it’s a great chance to get out of the house with your kid.  It’s also a great excuse to come home with S’mores Pop Tarts.
  8. Make a date with your kid. Almost every week, I take my oldest daughter on an outing.  When the baby gets older, she’ll join us.  I make a point not to do it on the same day or time, because that kind of structure can be limiting.  It can just be a day at the park, or something like the zoo or the science museum.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but spending some one on one time with your kid, doing things they really enjoy, goes a long way.
  9. Let them help you with your home repairs. Common sense please.  My daughter doesn’t handle the power tools yet, but she can hold and hand me a screw or screwdriver, as good as anyone.  Again, it takes longer to do everything, but life doesn’t always have to be about how fast.  When you see the pride your kid feels when they help you fix something or put something together, you’ll see why this is worth the extra time.  And hey, my wife still might have trouble telling a Phillips from a Flathead screwdriver, but my 5 year old has it down cold.
  10. Talk. All of these things are fun, but all you really have to do to get to know your young kids, and get them to know you, is talk.  Every day. Ask your kid what they did that day, and listen to the answer.  If they see you are listening and paying attention, they’ll talk to you.  If your kid is anything like mine, you won’t be able to get them to stop talking.

I know that it won’t be long before my kids will stop wanting to spend time with me and stop wanting to talk to me.  I am going to enjoy this time while it is here.   So what about you?  What are some of the things you do to get to know, and spend some time with your kids?

2 replies
  1. Patrick says:

    Hi Ian
    I really enjoyed this article – it’s a great reminder why many of us daddies want to develop our businesses in the first place. These are some great tips that don’t take a lot of time extra time or money, but will mean a lot to the kids.
    I’m really looking forward to the next podcast, too – keep up the good work.

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