I used to love heading to my daughter’s elementary school at 2:15 every day to chat with the other parents around the school doors as we waited for the bell to ring. The kids were always happy to see me commiserating with other parents when they burst out of the school, as they knew that this meant we would continue visiting and they could have a quick play in the schoolyard. Afterwards, we would often take a quick detour to a convenience store on the way home and stop for a Slurpee. I would blast music and we would all sing songs in the car as I drove the long way home. These were fun times filled with lots of laughs and mutual love.
After ten years of two kids moving through elementary school, I never thought that I would miss the hustle of the afterschool routine. Now parenting high-schoolers, I’m finding that there is less time to create quality moments—the kids are more engaged in their phones, their homework and their friends which makes my slice of quality time with them infinitely smaller
Even though it’s harder, I’m always searching for creative ways to make moments with moments with my teens to show them how much I love them. Sometimes they are resistant, but other times, it seems to be exactly what they need.
Tuck them into bed at night
It seems simple, but since many times they are staying up later than we are, it can be an effort to wait up for them and then spend some time in their rooms before lights out. Sometimes I bring in an extra blanket and then roll them up like a burrito. That doesn’t always get the best response… but they still love the time I spend tucking them in.
Tell them stories about when they were babies
My oldest loves to hear the story about the time that we forced her to eat broccoli nuggets—I was trying to get her to eat more vegetables—and my youngest loves hearing how she could sing before she could talk.
Take them for a coffee date
More often than not, we’re running from activity to activity and juggling our time, so we don’t always get time to sit eye-to-eye with our teens. I find carving out 30 minutes to sit in a coffee shop and share a warm drink and a snack is the perfect way to get your teens to open up and talk.
Have a cut-off time for phone usage
This can be a family rule or a kids-only rule but if everyone has put their phones away by 8-9pm, then it allows for a little bit of family time. Your teens won’t like it at first, but I they will love the family time—especially if you end up doing something fun together.
Hold their hand
I’ve found that asking questions in the car afterschool can quickly illicit just one-word answers. Taking the time to reach out and hold my daughter’s hand seems to open up her heart, and she will start talking more than if I simply asked her questions.
While I sometimes wish we still had the ease of the elementary school days, having teenagers has helped me become more cognizant of teen/mom communication. Even if it is in small snippets, the thing that they want most from us, is time.