By now, most college students have arrived home for winter break. If this is his or her first time home since leaving for school, you may experience the following: 1) They may look or act differently, 2) They may do a great deal of sleeping or lounging in their pajamas and 3) They may spend a great deal of time visiting and hanging out with their high school friends.
Instead of taking it personally when your college student appears preoccupied, you might take it as a compliment because it serves as a reminder that you have built a strong relationship with them. They trust that you will always be there for them.
What actually may surprise you is that the majority (75%) of the 13 to 24 year olds, when surveyed, indicate that spending time with family makes them the happiest. Knowing this, you may ask yourself…how do I spend meaningful time with them when they do come home?
How to Spend Time With Your Teens Over Winter Break
- Exercise Together
When our daughter comes home or when we are on a trip together, we try to find the time to exercise together. We’ve danced to Latin music in Zumba classes, performed yoga moves on surf boards and entered running races together. The last race we entered was the Turkey Trot several Thanksgivings ago. She left me in the dust, but she was waiting for me when I finished…sweaty hug and all.
- Take a Class or Lesson Together
This past August, my daughter and I took a surfing lesson together and had a blast. We tried to recreate another successful outing by taking a Sip N Dip art class together, but the class was closed. We did participate in part of the activity, we tasted great wines at another venue.
- Go Grocery Shopping Together
Our daughter is probably no different than your son or daughter…they have specific foods and snacks that they like. Instead of traveling alone to the grocery store, take them with you and they can select their favorite eats and drinks while you grocery shop for the family. You can even plan their favorite dinner and invite several of their high school friends to dine with you.
- Bake or Cook Dinner Together
Every holiday, we travel to a family friend’s home and take a special food item to share. It’s a tradition we started twenty years ago. My daughter makes a mean pizza bread that is requested every year. This year, she was late flying home so she asked if I would prepare the bread dough beforehand. When she arrived, we got right to work, the whole family making their signature dish for the party. We also love to play holiday music in the background.
- Family Movie Night
When our daughter’s plans fell through, she asked us if we wanted to go to the movies over Thanksgiving break. We jumped at the opportunity. My husband loves the lead actor in the movie she recommended and I just wanted to be with my tribe. It turns out, the movie was awesome (the audience applauded at the end) and afterwards we were able to have a conversation about parts in the movie that we thought provided clues along the way to how it was going to end. Movies can bond the family together especially if it leaves each family member upbeat and happy at the end.
- Don’t Drive Everywhere
We are lucky, we have a little shopping area on the other side of our housing development. We can walk to get coffee, groceries, hardware items, etc. It’s an easy walk and we usually see neighbors along the way. During Thanksgiving break, my husband asked my daughter several times if she wanted to go for a walk and take our dog. She didn’t turn him down once. I love to see the two of them go off on their own. It’s a time for them to reconnect without me being around.
- Play Their Games or Table Top Activities They Have Initiated
Grown and Flown has done a marvelous job selecting and listing 19 Popular Board Games for Teens and College Kids (2019). At our family gatherings, we still put jig saw puzzles together. However, if your son or daughter play video games, ask if you can join them. Unless you play yourself, they will probably find your lack of dexterity very amusing.
- Fix It Together
How many times have you heard your college son or daughter ask for you to fix a pair of jeans, a shirt or find a certain tool for a needed repair? Instead of fixing it for them or telling them where the tool is located, do the task together. Teach them how to sew on the button or if they are into sports, help them put air into the bicycle tire or basketball.
- Do Chores Together
Doing chores together is so much more enjoyable than doing them by yourself. Whether you are folding clothes, building a fire, or helping your college student take unwanted clothes to the thrift store, it pays to work together. The rewards? They might learn a new skill and you’ll get through the to-do list faster.
- Take Selfies and Videos Together
Photos are a great way to document your life together highlighting where you went and what you did. We take a lot of photos and some of those are selfies. There’s something to be said about shooting, in close proximity, that final pose. It really is a bonding experience. Taking a video together is another great way to document the quality of time you have spent together. Add to the fun by using the One Second a Day App. Basically, you film one second of video every day and according to the app originators, “it stitches second-long snippets from your life into a compelling, personal movie.”
Spending meaningful time with your college son or daughter now pretty much guarantees that they will continue to be wonderful adults and fantastic parents themselves someday.
Rebecca Hastings is the CEO/Founder of hugabox, college care packages with a purpose (90% of the proceeds go to childhood cancer research). She is a huge advocate for sarcoma cancer research funding and works with others across the country to make childhood cancer a national priority. When she is not working, she is off hiking, skiing and playing golf with her husband. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram