For us moms, letting go can feel like losing a limb one digit at a time. It’s sad. It’s scary. It’s confusing. And not to be the bearer of bad news, but this is just the beginning. As adolescents gain more autonomy they spend more time with their friends out of the house, get their driver’s license, and may even get jobs after school.
This is where your BaMB (Badass Mom Boss) skills come in. Don’t get discouraged and don’t waste any more time. Connect with your tween now while they are still spending most of their time at home, even if it is locked away in their bedrooms for the most part.
Cooking is one of my favorite ways to spend time with the kids. Teaching them life skills is part of parenting, so let’s make it fun!
My son took an interest in cooking shows over the summer and really developed an admiration for Gordon Ramsay. He enjoys experimenting with different herbs and spices and is becoming quite the breakfast aficionado. He is also really great at making pancakes and waffles, with or without chocolate chips, with or without fresh strawberries.
Most of the time when it comes to breakfast or his savory toasted bagel sandwiches, he insists on being the teacher as I must play the role of the attentive and eager to learn student. Dinner is reserved for my instruction.
Yes, that very thing you negotiate limits on and quite possibly the biggest culprit of stealing your tweens time away from you can very well serve as a bonding moment for you and your tween just as much as it bonds them with their friends. This is such a fabulous way to really enter into your tween’s world.
They’re playing games anyway, so pop in and check out what they like. Ask questions with genuine curiosity. Allow them to explain the objective, the challenges, and why it appeals to them. If you’re feeling really adventurous, ask them to hand over the remote and let them teach you how to play.
If you suffer from migraines like I do, the graphics and the way the screen moves may not take long to trigger the onset. I attempted to play years ago. Now I show my interest by watching for ten or fifteen minutes and asking a bunch of questions along the way. I have been known to over emphasize some of my reactions for a little dramatic affect just to prove how invested I am in his character, wink wink.
Because they are literally feeling the push into adolescence and the pull of their childhood, reading is the perfect way to connect as it appeals to both of those forces. Allow them to choose a YA (young adult) book, or better yet, the first in a full series that may tickle your fancy, too. Start by reading aloud to your tween. Yes, I did say read TO them… aloud. This appeals to their child side while the genre stimulates their maturing mind.
My youngest didn’t care to read in elementary no matter the genre. I read to him hoping to pique his interest, but unless I was the one reading, he didn’t care to pick up a book on his own until recently. And even now I think he skims and reads ahead, but hey, I’ll take it!
In 6th grade we read the School of Fear series and last year in 7th grade we read the Diary of Ann Frank. Now we read Edgar Allen Poe and a collection of scary stories together no matter the season. Just a few weeks ago I tried giving away the School of Fear books since we won’t be reading them anymore, and he exclaimed, “NO!” with an expression to say, how dare you? “That has sentimental value. You can’t give that away!”
My personal favorite is communing with nature. But even if you live in a big metropolitan area, simply walking the dog or strolling around a few blocks will serve this purpose nicely. With fresh air while you get your hearts pumping, nothing beats this one on one opportunity to learn how to conversate with your tween.
The more frequently you go for walks the more comfortable conversations will flow. Speak their language. Be genuinely curious and practice active listening. Soon enough you’ll notice gaining insight into the nitty gritty of their school life and social life.
The movement and gaze ahead help to alleviate the awkwardness and allows for the ease of more personal topics. Don’t try to force them, at least not at first.
There are so many different methods of meditation and the benefits are plentiful. You can choose a guided meditation online or choose to be the guide yourself if you feel up to it. Create an immersive experience with candles and incense, music, yoga mats or special pillows on the floor, etc. There are so many variations and styles to choose from. You can choose a new method each week or each month.
If meditation is new to your household, start off slow with mindfulness and breathing techniques for 10 or 15 minutes. Work your way up to meditations for 20 to 25 minutes. Time goes by quickly during meditation, but I wouldn’t go beyond 3o minutes unless your child really gets into it. Then you can meditate as long as your schedule and desire allows.
For some ideas on meditation techniques check out my YouTube channel @TrueYouSolutions. I put up guided meditations every few weeks.
As with all of the suggestions above, working out together creates a household culture emphasizing the health of the mind, body and spirit. Working out doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. You may opt to workout at home like I do, with the direction of YouTube videos, apps on your phone and/or your Smart TV, or old school DVD’s.
If you are braver than me, there are usually plenty of gyms and studios depending on your location, that you can look into for group classes. Ask if they have family discounts. Your local YMCA provides great options, too!
Remember not to take yourself too seriously if working out is new to you, and don’t put too much pressure on your tween. This is a bonding moment, free from judgment and scrutiny.
NOTE: be careful with weight training. Your tween still has a lot of growing to do, even if they are creeping up to 6 feet tall, their muscles and bones are not yet fully developed. A calisthenics routine takes the guess work out of how much weight is too much weight. Consult your physician and pediatrician before starting a new workout routine.
A mom’s dream that only she can turn into a reality: help around the house! Raise the expectations for your children and watch them rise to the occasion. There are so many benefits to this, it could easily be its own blog article. Everyday household chores should be divided among family members anyway, but one way to decrease push back if this is new for your household is to do chores with them.
I remember being in awe of TV couples where one would wash the dish and immediately hand it to their significant other ready and waiting with a towel in hand. Ahhhh the dream! I emulated that with my kids, instead.
Back in the northeast, fall yard work was always a family affair, as was cutting and stacking wood. Because my love for nature is so strong, I would elicit the help of one child at a time for assistance with gardening. Now in Florida, this is an all year long affair and I love it!
My son loves washing the car… but only the exterior. So as I sit in my garage and write this, guess what my son is doing?! I took a few breaks from writing to assist with the hose or getting high reach areas on the windshield and roof, and helped buff it dry.
And there is not a special household project where I don’t elicit the help of one of my children. My tween and I declutter and organize his closet every other month. I swear I don’t know how it gets so messy, but history has shown me with the rate of growth during these tween years, sorting through his wardrobe needs to be done most often over during this stage of their development. I highly encourage you to do these special projects with your tween, instead of taking it on yourself.
Date night or afternoons should not be overlooked. The options depend on what’s available in your area, but minigolf and bowling are a couple of classics. If your funds are limited like mine were as a single mom of five, you can keep it simple with iced tea refreshers from your favorite coffee shop.
Just as you would with any date, scheduling it on the household calendar and stick to it. Just have fun!
I have found that grabbing one of my kids at a time to go run errands proves to be an easy way to connect with your tween. You can use this time to start teaching them best practices for driving in preparation for the years to come. Giving them the perspective of a driver helps them to be safer pedestrians and bicyclists on the road.
Keep your tween engaged with the tasks at hand. The responsibility of checking the list always goes to my son. Shopping with your tween also serves as a fantastic way to teach them about financial responsibility and budgeting. Ask them to keep a tally of the bill as you throw items in your cart and to warn you when you are creeping up toward your limit.
The volunteer options again depend on your locale, but this doesn’t have to be reserved strictly for the holidays. Check with your local organizations and your church to find out the opportunities near you. Commit to once per month. Your acts of service give you common ground with your tween and provide conversational topics and teaching moments for you both!