Sneaky Ways to Spend Time with your Teenager

Mom and Teen

Parents often find it difficult to care for teenagers. This is sometimes the case because teens often prefer to spend most of their time in their room, at school activities, or with friends. While this is a normal progression, it can leave parents wishing they could spend more family time with their child. You cannot make a teenager spend family time with you. You can, however, get creative and steal a little family time with your busy teen.

Everyday situations can be used as opportunities to have a conversation with the elusive young person in your home.  Here are a few fun things to do with your family.

Get in the Kitchen

You may long for the days when you spent hours making holiday cookies with your child. This picture-perfect moment may be out of reach when you are dealing with a teen. The kitchen, however, is the perfect place for some unexpected family bonding with your teenagers. Simply change one of your teen’s chores to dinner prep one night a week, or even twice a month. Instead of leaving them alone to complete the task, get in the kitchen with them. You can help cook, wash dishes, or set the table. Start ahead of time by allowing your child to choose a favorite recipe and take them shopping for the ingredients. This can become a fun family tradition where you try new foods and get creative while still keeping your focus on the family.

Take an Interest

It may be unrealistic to share a hobby with your teen; however, you can still care about what interests them. Teens often try out a variety of things before they find an interest that sticks. You may have a hard time keeping up with the constantly changing music styles or clothing trends. You can ask questions, however. Do a little research on the obscure art style your teen likes, for example. Take them to do something related to their interest. This may result in sitting through a loud concert, spending a day at the museum, or shopping at an odd specialty store while still keeping the focus on the family.

Volunteer

It may be hard to convince your child to volunteer their time, especially if they are busy with school or sports. Many high schools, however, require volunteer hours to graduate. Volunteer time also looks great on a college application. Instead of sending your child off to complete the hours on their own, sign up to go with them. You may find there is a lot to talk about while picking up trash or bathing dogs at a shelter.  You will be sharing happy times while keeping the focus on the family.

Invade their Space (in a good way)

This does not mean you should force your way into your teen’s personal space. Teenagers are usually very concerned with making their room a reflection of their personality. They may be protective of their belongings and begin to try different decorating ideas. Suggest a room makeover or offer to take them shopping for new room accessories. Initiate something that takes teamwork, like painting the room a new color or building a shelf. You are guaranteed to get a little family bonding time while prepping the walls or teaching them about power tools.  Together you will create happy memories while keeping the focus on the family.

Eat, Eat, Eat

There is one thing that every parent of a teen knows. They love to eat all the time! Most teenagers do not turn down the opportunity to go to their favorite restaurant or shop for special snacks.  Making plans may be too obvious, so you need to be spontaneous. Simply mention the restaurant you are going to as you grab your shoes and prepare to leave. Ask your child if they would like to join you for their favorite burger or dessert. When you are headed to the grocery store, offer an array of exciting snack foods in exchange for help with the shopping trip. Some of the best conversations happen over food.  And the best part, is you get to keep the focus on the family, over a great meal.

The teenage years can be incredibly challenging. Even without the attitude, the separation that occurs can be hard on parents. It is wonderful to watch them become their own person, yet you also miss hanging out with them and spending family time together.

Utilizing these suggestions, will empower you to sneak in some time with your teen without them even realizing it. It takes a lot of effort from parents to communicate with teens, at times. As with all parenting activities, the sacrifice is worth it. Spend some extra time in the kitchen or sit through a loud concert if that is what it takes. The extra effort you put in now can make a huge difference in your teen’s life, even if they don’t show it. Once you have them in your grasp, be sure to throw in some compliments and make them feel valued.

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