Days are slipping away. We feel them through our fingertips like the sand our kids once played in. No matter how tight I clench my fist, the sand keeps falling. Instead of holding so tight, maybe we need to relax. Open our hands. Let the sand rest there a moment before we reach down and grab another handful.
Here are 10 ways to help you enjoy the moments this summer.
Introduce them to a movie from your youth. They’ll think it’s fun to make fun of the clothing and hair and cheesy movie lines. You’ll enjoy the walk down memory lane with your teen.
Let them plan a day for the family. Give them a budget and let them take the lead. It’s exciting to see what they come up with. We could talk all about the great skills they are practicing in this one, but it’s more fun just to sit back and enjoy the ride. You may be surprised to see what they come up with!
Read a book together. Maybe not out loud together, but pick a book you can both read. I find my teen reads far faster than I can, so I have to make a conscious effort on this one. Without making it formal, just find times to slip the story into conversation. It’s a connection you can both enjoy.
Pick a show to watch together. Start with episode one, pop some popcorn and enjoy a good binge fest together. While I often lament having my quiet evenings from back in the days of 8 pm bedtimes, you have time to relax together. Find a way to enjoy it.
Go to a game or a concert. It doesn’t have to be the major leagues or a top musician, but find a local game for a sport your kid loves or a local concert for a style of music your teen enjoys. It’s simple, doesn’t cost a lot and gives you a great time out together, and it’s great if it is outdoors! Plus this one doesn’t usually take much convincing.
Be the house the kids want to come to. This one isn’t as bonding as some of the other ideas on the list, but when you create an atmosphere your teen and her friends want to be in it is so good. Not only is your teen around more, but you get to know her friends and see them interact together. Be goofy and silly. Have the good snacks. Resist the urge to embarrass or scold. Don’t mistake this for changing how you do things or your rules. Just be real and welcoming and let the rest happen naturally.
Serve someone else. Not all teens are eager to participate in serving others, but once you get started most kids come around and even appreciate it. Find something you can do for someone else together. Working together is the key to making this successful. Good places to try are soup kitchens, reading to kids (even summer camps and summer school may offer opportunities), cleaning up a park, or bringing a meal to someone who could use some help. It doesn’t have to be complex, it just needs to be about giving.
Play their game. Sometimes teens are wrapped up in the latest game or app. Get involved. It will most likely be funny, but giving them the chance to show you how to do something creates a special bond. Recognizing their expertise helps them feel respected and that goes a long way.
Dream together. Even little moments offer opportunities to connect. Asking questions is a great way to see glimpses of your teen that you never imagined. Here are a few questions to get you started: What is your dream vacation? What kind of house do you think you’ll live in when you’re my age? If you could eat anything in the world for your last meal what would it be?
Make time, but don’t force it. Being available is one of the best ways to create connection. It doesn’t mean following your teen around, but make sure that you aren’t checking out or disappearing every time they are home. Be present and open and see what happens!
Rebecca Hastings traded the classroom for writing when she stayed home with her three children. Passionate about authenticity, faith, and family, she now writes regularly at www.myinkdance.com. She has also been featured on multiple sites including the The Washington Post, For Every Mom, The Mighty and Scary Mommy. Her first book, Worthy, is available on Amazon. A wife and mother of three in Connecticut, she writes imperfect and finds faith along the way.