How Parents Can Spend Quality Time With Their Teens

Not spending enough time with our teens is one of those things that can leave us feeling deprived. Now that my kids are older the tables have certainly flipped; my kids used to beg me to spend time with them and now I’m the one doing the begging. They look at me like I’ve lost my mind every time I squeeze them and tell them how much I’ve missed them after not seeing them for half of the day.

teens and family
I’m trying to be deliberate in spending time with my teens. (Twenty20)

My teens mostly just ignore me

They ignore my texts most of the time and don’t seem to think it’s necessary to stay in close contact or answer my million questions. When our kids hit their teens, spending time with them becomes a challenge. We are no longer number one in their lives. In fact, I think if I told my three kids I was going away for a month, they wouldn’t be able to contain their joy.

I’m overbearing, annoying, ask too many questions, and want to be too involved in their lives. That’s their version of the story, anyway.

I need to be intentional about the time I want to spend with my kids

Since we are still in the middle of a pandemic and the days are shorter and colder, it feels easy to slip into our own world. At this point, we are used to being together constantly yet somehow it’s not the quality time I like to spend with my kids. Pre-COVID I had to schedule time with them and I’m finding that I have to be intentional about spending time with them now also. Lord knows they aren’t going to put in the effort.

Four ways to spend quality time with your teens

1) Just hang out

One thing I’ve realized since becoming a mother is that you don’t all have to be doing the same thing in order to spend time together. My oldest son gets up early as I do. While I’m working out in the living room, I turn on the news, he makes breakfast, and sits down on the sofa to eat. This means that almost every morning, I get a solid half-hour of quality time with him.

It’s like a little secret I look forward to every morning. I’d like to think that he’d never stop doing it just because I blurted out, “Oh, I just love our mornings along with honey, it’s great quality time,” but he’s also seventeen so you never know.

2) Doing schoolwork together

Now they are learning at home, we spend quite a bit of time doing school work together. All my kids are close in age so it’s not just me helping one of them. There have been many times they’ve helped each other. My boys are really good at math but struggle with English which is where my daughter shines.

Sitting around the island, together, while I work and they do their school work (even if no one is talking) still counts as some great time together. I think one of the greatest gifts you can have in a relationship is knowing that you don’t have to be doing or saying anything — simply being together is enough.

3) Cleaning out the house

One of the other things quarantine has promoted is cleaning out all the old stuff we’d otherwise not have the time for. I used to do this in a hasty rush, just barely fitting it in to our crazy lives. Now, my kids have gotten into it too and oftentimes help each other. The other day my oldest son cleaned out his room and gave some of the clothes he’s outgrown to his brother. It’s funny how fast old clothes can spark different memories and before I knew it, we were all standing in the hallway talking about when they were younger.

4) Eating and cooking together

And of course my favorite pastime is eating and cooking together. It used to be that I’d take my kids out to lunch every Saturday before I dropped them off at their dad’s for the night. It was the one thing I could count on to bring us together. We sit there sharing an appetizer, a meal, then sometimes go out for ice cream later. I really miss going into a restaurant to eat with my kids but we do just fine getting take out or curbside pick up.

Since they are home more, we are often able to eat lunch together too. And with time to make something more than peanut butter and jelly — a lot of times we grill a nice lunch — it definitely adds to our quality time jar. My kids have gotten more involved in the meal planning, have different suggestions for meals, and we now send each other recipes we want to try for the week.

Spending time with our kids looks different with each stage. It seems like as soon as we get used to one way, we have to adjust and pivot into a new way.

You never know what life is going to throw at you — that’s one thing 2020 has taught us —but we do know the importance of spending time together. I certainly can’t think of anything else in my life that compares to spending time with my kids.

More to Read:

Twenty Ways We Love Spending Time With Our Teenage Sons

About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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