It’s that time of year again. Kids are back to school, the joys of a more relaxed schedule fly out the window, and we’re falling back into our old routines. It’s crazy how the monotony of our day-to-day lives can be exhausting, yet the days fly by all too quickly. While time keeps on ticking into the future, it’s important for us to stay mindful on the things that separate each day from the next. The interactions and relationships with your loved ones are a great place to start.
Whether it’s greeting our spouse after a long day of work or through smiles to children as they hop in the car after school, we all do it. The typical, “How was your day?” falls out of our mouths without a second thought. Cultivating conversations often takes work, and a prompt like that leaves room for a closed and simple response of, “Good.”
Here are a few tips for getting more out of your interactions with the people you really care to know more about!
- Stay “open-ended”. Closed-ended questions are those which can be answered by a simple “yes” or “no,” while open-ended questions are those which require more thought and more than a simple one-word answer. Though, “How was your day?” does leave room for a longer response than “Did you have a good day?” it still allows a one-word response.
- Always follow-up. If your question prompts a one-word response, follow up with an open-ended prompt. “Tell me about your day” or “tell me more about that” can open the door to more meaningful conversation.
- Create a routine. It’s okay to ask your loved ones for some down time after you walk in the door, and instead create a routine around conversation. Set a family rule that you each share your high point and low point of the day at the dinner table. Talk to your spouse about going over your day and plans for tomorrow before you go to sleep. Find a time and place that will work best, and stay consistent in sharing this time together.
- Put down your phone. Turn it over, turn it off, or put it in another room if need be. Stay focused on the person you’re talking to!
- When all else fails, make/use a list:
Questions for kids:
- What made you smile today?
- Tell me an example of kindness you saw or did today.
- What was the best memory you have from today?
- What was challenging today?
- If you switched places with the teacher tomorrow, what would you teach the class?
- Tell me about the thing you liked learning the most/least today.
Questions for your partner/spouse:
- What’s one thing you did well today or are proud of?
- Is there anything stressing you out at work or at home?
- Is there anything you need that you’re not getting?
- How can we help each other this week?
- What’s the weirdest thing you saw on [insert social media platform here] today?
- What are 3 things I do to make you feel loved?