Raising a teenager is a struggle that I don’t think any parent is really ever ready for. Aside from having to navigate the bigger issues that life begins to present like peer pressure, dating, and the exposure to so many things, there is another very heart heavy struggle, time. As our kids enter high school we realize that our years, months, and days with them at home are dwindling far too quickly. So before college, before adulthood, and before we release them into the world we feel the urge to make the most of their adolescence, even if its hard. To give you some ideas here are 14 ways to steal more moments with your teenager and soak up this last stage of home life with them.
A Parent’s Desperate Role with Their Teenager
Gosh guys, raising teenagers is not for the faint of heart. Am I right?!?! There is a constant balance between reeling them in and letting them go that simply tugs on my heart no matter which way the scale tips.
And the communication, oh my. Sometimes I feel like I need professional interrogation skills just to find out how their school day was, let alone trying to broach the more serious topics.
I worry, constantly, about their safety, and their choices, and whether or not I’m teaching them all they need to know about the real world, while still protecting them from the real world.
I mean dating?
It’s all as scary as it sounds. Except as a parent you have to be without fear. When it comes to raising your teenager it is the biggest stage you will ever stand on to make an impression on them. And while you feel as if you are fading into the background of their life, behind their friends, and sports, and activities, you are still the starring role that they are modeling themselves after.
As parents of teenagers I think we desperately want to grasp every opportunity we can to lead them. But I also feel that we want to steal every chance we get for ourselves. Because the letting go part of raising them is oh-so-hard.
Keeping Your Teenager As Close As You Can
You can call it selfish. I don’t mind. In fact, I outright admit that I want to take every moment I can get with my teenager. The longer I am a parent, the more I realize how fast time goes.
As I write this I still have a lot to navigate with my teens. My oldest will start his high school journey this fall and my #2 son will join him the year after. My youngest is 2 years old with two more elementary age siblings in the mix so I have plenty of years left to feel the sweetest heartache of watching your kids grow up.
It’s a balance of holding on and letting go.
On one hand my pride swells with each milestone and achievement of independence. Like seriously, I think my mama heart can’t get any bigger…and then it does.
However, on the other hand raising a teenager is like a slow break up with the love of your life. For moms this is especially profound because you go from being the one they need the most, to feeling as if you are not needed at all. Thankfully, that concept is far from the truth. Your teenager just needs you in a different way, and that new way takes a little getting used to.
While gaining independence is the headlining story with teenagers, behind the scenes their parents are trying to nurture a bond and keep them close. Or, at least as close as they can.
So how do you get more time with them and still allow your teen to build a life without you hovering over everything they do? You steal it.
14 Ways to Steal More Moments With Your Teenager
Run Errands Together
This may seem like a totally mundane thing to do and chances are you are going to get a few eye rolls and statements of protests. However, there are often precious moments in the midst of life’s everyday tasks. You just never know when a good conversation with your teenager might pop up. Or, when something happens that makes you both laugh until you cry. So take them on your Target run, to the post office, or to help you get the grocery shopping done.
Give Them Chores
Giving your teenager chores is usually part of teaching them responsibility anyway. However, in this case it’s a sneaky way to get help around the house and spend time with them. Try giving them chores you can both do together.
As you work with one another you can continue your bond by talking. Additionally, you both get to share feelings of accomplishment once you are done.
It was one of these “chore” times recently when I realized the tables were turning with my teen. I asked him to help me take down the outside Christmas lights and instead of me being the one up on the ladder, it was him. It was a small action but made me realize how he is maturing.
A few ideas for chores you can do together are:
- Decluttering their room
- Cleaning the garage
- Yard work
- Folding laindry
- Helping to make dinner or meal prepping
Feed Their Friends
One of the best ways to get a glimpse of your teenager’s social life is to invite it to your dinner table. Nothing lures teenagers like yummy food. It’s like a moth to a flame. When my teen has friends over I often ask them if they want to stay for dinner or I’ll go ahead and whip them up a snack to munch on.
Then I’ll talk to them as I work in the kitchen or sit down at the table with them as we eat together. It’s a great way to see your teenager open up a little and I love getting to know their friends. You may also get to hear more things that are going on at school and in their social groups.
So go ahead and make some extra servings for dinner, order take out, or keep some easy snacks on hand and spend a little extra time in their world.
Schedule One-On-One Time
I get a ton of one-on-one time with my toddler but scheduling it with my teenager is a little bit more challenging.
Aside from their own busy schedule, I have to contend with the schedule of everyone else in our family. Not to mention their push-back of wanting to hang out with mom.
However, I’ll give you one word that will help immensely in this category:
I have no idea what the draw is but teens love to go to Starbucks, or Coffee Bean, or whatever the popular coffee shop is where you live. Maybe it’s just a phenomenon, maybe they think it’s cool to carry around one of those to-go cups but it’s a perfect way to have some quick one-on-one time minus the resistance. Because they will be totally willing to be seen in public with you if they can get a caramel high rise latte with extra caramel.
Some other ideas for one-on-one time are:
- Go shopping
- Eat out
- Go for a walk
- Play basketball
- Take them bowling
- Bake something
- Do a project or craft
- Attend a sporting event or concert
Find a Hobby
Starting a hobby together doesn’t have to be difficult or even something you do every week. It can be as simple as reading the same books and talking about them, like a mini book club. Perhaps they like to draw, exercise, play chess, etc. It can also be something seasonal like skiing, surfing, fishing, etc.
The key is to find out what perks their interest and go from there. You might be surprised to find out what things you both have in common as they get older.
Invade Their Space
That’s right. Your teens live in your house and you are in charge of them so it’s okay to invade their space on a regular basis. I don’t mean you need to rudely barge into their rooms or start reading their social media every other day (although I personally think social media monitoring is imperative). But sometimes in order to connect with them you need to go to them.
I swear some days if I didn’t make my way into their rooms I would never see my two oldest boys. I call it their cave because its like they hibernate in there or something. By now they are used to me inviting myself into their habitat and often times pulling them out of it.
It’s as easy as knocking on their door and plopping down beside them to ask “what’s up” in their life. Chances are if you continue to go to your teenager, they will begin to understand that its okay to come to you.
Watch A TV Series
I don’t really watch TV anymore. I think that hobby fell into extinction sometime after baby number four. The only TV I tend to see is what kids show my littles have on or sporting events my teens are watching.
I really enjoy watching a baseball or football game with my two older boys. My #2 son can spout off so many facts about football that it totally impresses me and I love to listen to him.
A while back we did get into watching one of the singing competitions. It’s funny because I can’t even recall the name of it, all I remember is it was fun to spend time with them acting like we were the judges and guessing who would stay and who would get voted off.
It’s another common ground that you can find with your teen and a chance to get some downtime together.
Teach Them Something
Whether it is your Grandmother’s dumpling recipe or a card game you used to play as a kid you can have a lot of fun teaching your teen something. Plus, its extra special if it is a family tradition that was first passed down to you and now its your chance to pass it on to them.
However, even if its not something that has gone through the generations, teaching your teen a skill is great bonding time that they will appreciate.
Let Them Teach You Something
This can be a total blast and will probably have both of you rolling with laughter. Chances are it will have something to do with technology and lets just be real, our teens are much more savvy than we are when it comes to technology.
I let my teen teach me how to play a Mario Bros. game on his Nintendo Switch. I was absolutely terrible at it and he thought it was completely hilarious that I could not get past a certain point without falling off a cliff or jumping into a fire ball. We laughed and laughed until I finally threw in the towel. Needless to say there is no hope for me in getting on the all time high score list.
Learn Something Together
This is an opportunity to both grow together in a certain area. Perhaps there is a class you both want to take or something you both think would be cool to learn how to do so you pull up a YouTube tutorial and dive in. It can be something that you repeatedly study, like drawing, photography, or guitar lessons. Or, it can be just a one time thing like one of those painting classes where everyone paints the same picture but they all turn out totally different. You can even search my tutorial page for easy crafts to do.
Ask Them Questions, Repeatedly
As the parent of a teen you probably already find yourself asking your son or daughter the same questions over and over again. How was school? Who was at that party? Who are you texting?
I’m always up in my teens business, but here’s why. If I don’t ask, they won’t tell. Even most of the time when I ask I get a one word response. Good. Everyone. No one.
However, even if I get 100 “goods”, I might get one time that triggers a really great conversation about something.
Want another way to start a discussion with your teen without using the same daily questions?? Check out these 50 Best Questions to Ask Your Teen.
Your teens biggest crutch in life right now is there iPhone (or whatever type of device they use) and it’s probably your most challenging battle with them as you try to limit their time on it.
So why not use it to your advantage? Send an “I love you” text for absolutely no reason. They will probably wrinkle their nose or roll their eyes but a small part of them will feel really really special to know you are thinking of them. And, who knows, you may just get an “I love you too, mom”, text back. Some other ways to use technology for the small moments:
- Play a game with them like Words with Friends or Game Pigeon
- Send an encouraging quote
- Take a video of them doing their latest skate board trick or dance move (with their approval of course)
- Text a funny meme
- Tag them in a non-embarrassing social media post
- Send them a YouTube video of their favorite song, or highlights of something they are interested in like sports or dance
Or, come up with another creative way to reach them through technology
Stay Up Late
I know this one might be a toughy for some of us parents. By the time 9pm rolls around I’m totally exhausted and ready to wind down. However, sometimes with our chaotic schedules, the best time to catch up with one another is in the quiet, slow times of a late evening.
Every once in a while do your best to stay up a little later with your teen. Pop a bowl of popcorn, play a card game, watch a favorite show, or just talk. One less hour of sleep on these occasions will be totally worth it.
Have Car Conversations
My kids and I tend to spend a good amount of time in the car as we go from school, to practices, to games, to other activities and social life events. Rather than allow them to ride with their Air pods in while texting their friends I use that time to dig a little deeper into whats going on at school or chat with them about whatever current teenage or family events we have headlining that particular week.
We make weekend plans, talk about school projects, or discuss their latest interests. It is usually just casual conversation, but sometimes if it is just my teen and me in the car its also a good time to bring up more serious topics like peer pressure or being a good friend. If you have multiple kids it can be one of the rare times you get to yourselves. Plus, they have nowhere to go so they have to listen to you 😉