This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

You know something is a little off but you can’t quite pinpoint it. Your daily interactions with your kid have felt a little strained, maybe at times like you’re going through the motions. If you have more than one child you may feel like you’re getting along better with one, while having a hard time understanding the other. You may be quick to snap at them or just plain tired and having a hard time fully focusing.

It happens to all of us. We get into a rut or have a season where we feel like all we do is argue with and discipline our children. It can be frustrating and really difficult to deal with in the moment. But there is good news: seasons change. Winter gives way to spring, spring brings summer, and summer yields to fall. Time passes and a new season is just right around the corner. Often this is a good change that brings better behavior, deeper connection and more fun.

Here are some of our favorite ways to break out of a rut and help speed up the changing of the seasons:

-Go on a date with the child that you feel disconnected from. Often, this focused one-on-one time is all the relationship needs to get back on track. With so many distractions it’s hard to always give kids our full attention. A date is the perfect way to do just that.

-Pull out an old favorite game or activity. Sometimes the best remedy is returning to something you know they love and you enjoy doing with them.

-Read a favorite book or make up your own story at bedtime. Bedtime has fostered many of our favorite moments with our kids and the requests for cuddles and adorable look they have when they’re asleep are always a good boost to your emotional connection.

So, the next time you feel like you’re in a season that just can’t end soon enough…first, give yourself some grace. Remember that each season has its place and purpose. Then try out one of these activities and see if it helps speed up the arrival of spring after a long, cold winter.

This is fatherhood…