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It’s funny that we’re always connected these days, glued to our phones, computers and social media. But sometimes as a parent it is easy to feel disconnected to our kids – as often we’re busy on the ‘functional’ aspects of parenthood – such as what time to put them to bed, or what to make them for dinner. I think connection is as important with our kids as anything else – in fact it is MORE important to connect with them, because this is the stuff we’ll remember in the future. We won’t remember all those hours spent on Facebook, will we?

HERE ARE MY TIPS FOR MORE CONNECTION:

1. NO PHONES DURING PLAY TIME

If I’m watching them hurl themselves about in the playground, I’m there. If I’m thumbing thru instabook, I’m not – that’s when they fall, dive, tumble off of something. That shit is NOT real life, watching them loon about is.

2. ROUGH & TUMBLE RULES, OK

The boys love to get on my back and dive onto me when I’m on the floor. It’s really helped me bond with my eldest. I read in the book Raising Boys that rough and tumbles strengthen relationships (I’m presuming not just with boys), because the roles are very apparent in this kind of play: I’m the ‘big strong’ dad and they are the little kids.

Now when Raff says: “Daddy can I get on your back?” it warms the cockles of my heart.

3. ONE-ON-ONE TIME IS GOLDEN

One on one with either of my little dudes is great. It could just be watching Ninjago/ a film, or building lego. A wise dad once said to me, that one-on-one time is an investment that will pay you back ten fold, ultimately laying the foundations for a strong relationship later on.

4. KIDS AND COMPUTER WORK DON’T MIX

If they’re in the room and I’m trying to work, it doesn’t work. The kids don’t get my attention, work doesn’t my attention and I end up screen-cranky. It is never ever a win win. 

5. IF IT WORKS, REPEAT IT

We practice reading, we make pancakes, more recently (and much to my delight) we kick a football together. When you find ‘the thing’ that works in connecting you and your child/ children, then keep doing it! Its value increases through repetition for both you & your offspring. It’s a shared habit that belongs to you both and nobody else!

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Tom Mangan

My name is Tom, I am a father of two boys, Rafferty aged 5 and Fox aged nearly 3. I also run businesses with my wife, Molly (Millionhands & Selfish Mother) and I write and record music.

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