Need some ideas on how to spend more bonding time with your toddler? Read our nine easy ways to spend more quality time with your child, with ideas from fun workouts for kids to cooking with children and enjoying family meals together. As the old saying goes, it’s quality over quantity—so with a bit of planning ahead, you can turn even the simplest of activities into special family bonding opportunities.
- Schedule in regular quality time
You might be thinking about day trips with toddlers or things to entertain kids with at home, why not come up with a few options and let your child pick? Set aside regular quality family time that you can all look forward to and be sure to put your chosen child-friendly activity in the calendar so you don’t forget!
Strapped for time? Even building in small windows of play, for example 10 minutes before you head off to work or when you get home, can go a long way in making your child feel special. Do it every day and let them lead the play to make them feel extra special.
- Bake or cook with your child
OK, so your toddler may not make the best chef quite yet, but cooking with children from an early age can spark a lifelong interest in healthy food. It’s also great for introducing them to basic maths and encouraging them to follow instructions. Here are some great recipes to try together!
Think of simple, safe tasks like helping to weigh out ingredients and mixing them in a bowl, and don’t forget to tell them what a good job they’re doing to reinforce their positive behavior. To extend the activity, you could ask your toddler to help you choose a recipe, then make a list of ingredients, and go shopping together!
- Enjoy family meals together
Sharing mealtimes not only provides an opportunity to role model healthy eating habits, but also teaches your toddler about the importance of quality family time. You could even theme meals to make them more fun, for example Taco Tuesday.
Lay out a variety of healthy fillings and let your toddler pick what they want to eat, without any pressure. Of course, if they’ve been helping you out in the kitchen, they’ll likely be excited to taste their culinary creations!
- Combine your exercise with fun workouts for kids
Getting into a routine of daily exercise not only sets a good example for your toddler but gives you an opportunity for more family bonding. Whether it’s a 10-minute morning exercise session (just search for fun workouts for kids on YouTube) or an after-dinner walk to wind down before bed, enjoy these special moments together.
- Think of games to play without screens
Playing with your toddler allows you to be silly and laugh together. Make sure you’re fully engaged by turning the TV off and putting your phone away. Playing games together helps your little one to develop their imagination, spatial awareness, and their gross and fine motor skills.
When planning games to play with kids, try to do a mixture of structured play and unstructured play. Structured play is where you lead the activity and your toddler follows simple instructions, for example hide and seek or tag. Unstructured play is where your child takes the lead, for example in imaginative role play, or plays freely by themselves with their toys. Get more ideas with our toddler activity planner.
- Go on a family holiday—even if you’re at home!
A regular family holiday is a fantastic opportunity to introduce your toddler to new experiences, teach them about the world around them, and of course enjoy more quality time with your child.
If you don’t have a family holiday coming up, don’t worry! Why not plan a camping trip in your back yard or have a living room sleepover? You can still look at the stars, tell stories, and sing songs together, creating special family memories that will last a lifetime.
- Be prepared on a family outing with your toddler
Organising a family outing or a day trip with your toddler? A little bit of planning can go a long way in reducing the risk of meltdowns, making sure you can all enjoy the special family time together. Travelling can be tough on toddlers, so break up journeys into chunks of activities to keep boredom at bay.
Think of child activities that the whole family can get involved in like a game of “I Spy”. Audiobooks are also great if you’re in the car, pick a classic you’ll all enjoy with a softly spoken narrator. It might even lull your little one to sleep! Bring healthy travel snacks for toddlers in case they get hungry. And of course, pack a well-stocked baby bag with plenty of nappies, wipes, and spare clothes.
- Stick to a bedtime routine
Whatever family bonding activity you might do in the day, it’s important to stick to a consistent bedtime routine, so your little one learns what to expect. Reading a story together or having a splash around in the bath is a great opportunity for you or your partner to connect with your child, especially if you’ve been apart during the day. Think bath, teeth, book, bed—although it doesn’t matter what you do for your little one’s bedtime routine, as long as you do the same thing most nights.
Following a bedtime routine not only helps toddlers to sleep more (good news for the whole family), but more sleep means they’ll be more alert the next day and be able to better manage their emotions, which can all contribute to a happier family environment for everyone.
- Document your quality time with family
Now that you know how to transform regular activities into quality family time ideas, be sure to document your family bonding time together! Why not create keepsakes of your special time together? For example, use leaves from a walk to make a collage or collect pebbles from the beach to display at home.
Toddlers also love looking at pictures and videos of themselves—and you’ll love looking back over the memories and marveling at how much your little one has grown. You could even turn your favourite footage into a photo album or video montage—then when your teenager asks what you used to do together when they were little, you can show them.