Quality time with kids: road-tested questions
Doing better than How-was-your-day?
Since it’s half-term for many in the UK next week and holidays are coming up around the world, this post is mostly for people with kids or those who find themselves around kids a lot. If it’s useful, please forward this email to other parents, etc. Or share the link to the newsletter (marczaosanders.com/newsletter) in a parents’ WhatsApp group.
My daughter is seven. A few days ago:
Me: How was your day?
Daughter: That’s not a good question
Harsh but true. She is a tough crowd.
I stood there, in the kitchen, a little crestfallen, and thinking hard about what a better question might be. Nothing came for a while but then:
Me: Did you argue with anyone today?
Daughter: Well...Chloe kept saying…and I…
Sure, arguing is negative subject matter. But I didn’t care. She was engaged. She had her thinking, wondering, not-bored look back again. And we talked.
The conversation made me wonder what questions work better with kids. And what possibilities better questions might unlock. I also have a nine-year-old son and like many parents with kids this sort of age, I recognise these years are precious and fleeting, and feel the need to make the most of them. It occurred to me that a little forethought and preparation might go a very long way here — in one of the most important areas of my life.
I looked around online but the questions-for-kids I saw were so-so. They didn’t seem like they’d been tried out with real-life children. They felt like questions adults would think are good questions — exactly what I wanted get away from. For example:
Do you have a favourite joke?
What is something you wish you knew how to do?
What is your favourite outfit and why?
These wouldn’t work with my kids. So I broadened the search to hundreds of questions, talked to parents and kids, came up with a long list, and tried them out to get to two shortlists of just ten. The questions below are all road-tested, and passed.
We all want to be able to cherish time with kids. It’s so easy to fall into a dull groove and stay there (eg by asking ‘How was your day?’, every day). It’s so easy to go through life, accumulating forgettable moments and forgetting most of them.
We can break this natural tendency. We can climb out of that groove and do something special with a little preparation and intention. With just a little extra effort, we can bring so much more delight into our lives and those around us, in the moment, as well as in memories we’ll cherish forever.
Grab the lists! Adapt them! Share them!