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Family life

6 Ways to Bond With Your Tween

As much as it hurt my heart a little that he didn’t want to hunker down in a fort and play Candyland anymore, it was kind of exciting to be given a new creative mommy challenge and find new ways to hang with my kid (that I would enjoy too).

6 Ways to Bond With Your Tween

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I found it really easy to bond with my kiddo when he was, well, a kid. A trip to the park with a freezie and a soccer ball was all we needed to have fun, laugh, share, and play. But as he got older, my theme days and impromptu outings were met with some indifference, and I found myself starting to panic: what if I couldn’t figure out how to bond with my son anymore?

It was only when he hit double digits that I got a second wave of mommyhood creativity, and I started figuring out new ways to connect with my pre-teen. As much as it hurt my heart a little that he didn’t want to hunker down in a fort and play Candyland anymore, it was kinda exciting to be given a new creative mommy challenge and find new ways to hang with my kid (that I would enjoy too).

Get out of the house

Everyone needs a change of scenery, especially you and your tween. You’ve been home together forever and need somewhere new to hang out. There are loads of places where you can be active, burn off some steam, flex your creative muscles, and have fun. A few of our favourites are trampoline parks, rock climbing centres, go-karting, escape rooms, ceramic cafes, and cooking classes, but there are also bowling, art classes, VR and laser tag places, dance classes, and more.

Not all tweens necessarily want to “do” something, so pick up some fast food and go park somewhere. Anywhere. Turn on some music. People watch. Read. Just do it away from the house. And you don’t have to talk… it’s just nice to be in each other’s company and have a comfortable silence. Don’t make your tween feel like they’re trapped every time you get out of the house. And, in the end, you might find it sparks some new convos anyway.

No screens in the car

By this stage, devices can become like an extra limb to our almost-teenagers. In our household, we have one big-time screen limitation that we still enforce: no screens in the car. A long road trip is different, but if we’re staying local, there’s no reason to be zeroed in on a screen during the entire car ride. Look out the window, listen to the radio, or (gasp) conversate.

My son and I have our best chats in the car (oh, if those metal walls could talk). It’s not often we’re “forced” to be in such small quarters with our family, which is why it’s the most opportune time to catch up on things. We allow our son a lot of freedom when it comes to screen time – he can deal with keeping himself occupied during a drive.

Mother spending time with daughter on couch iStock

Family dinner

Yup, as hard as it might be to coordinate, we try and sit down and have dinner together several times a week. It’s not always possible every single evening (I like my occasional meals in front of the TV too), but we make a point to eat as a family as often as we can. Here, too, there are no outside distractions – phones are not allowed at the table, and because our dining area is closed off from the living room, there’s no TV. We actually just sit together, eat, and talk. We get updates on each other’s lives, talk about our day, discuss family topics (like our upcoming summer vacation), and enjoy a simple 30 minutes to just be with one another.

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Dinnertime is also an opportunity to work together as a family. My husband and I do most of the cooking, and my son helps set and clear the table. We’re all in the kitchen as a unit, we show appreciation for each other’s contributions to the meal, and it allows for time to slow down, even for a moment so that we can be together.

Friend get-together

At this age, friends play a really big role in their lives, so we’re all about having my son’s buddies over to hang out. Our front door is always open, and there’s always enough food at meals to include my son’s friends anytime they want to stay. I like being the “host” house. We get to see our son more if he’s hanging with friends here, and it keeps us in the loop of what’s going on in his own life because we can see and participate in his friend group a bit. In the end, it brings everyone together, and we think it’s a win-win.

Friends hanging out, taking a selfie, in front of a school bus iStock

Impromptu outings

There’s a time and a place for plans, and then there’s the fun of deciding to do something on a whim. A late-night ice cream run or a random mid-day trip through your tween’s favourite fast-food drive-through could be just the unexpected fun you guys need to make some new memories. Wake up one weekend morning and go on a family day trip somewhere you keep saying you’d like to check out but haven’t. Do something silly or adventurous. Or tug at heartstrings and do something nostalgic: what was your tween’s favourite thing to do when they were little? Do that! It’ll bring back wonderful memories and help you create new ones.

An overnighter

When was the last time just you and your tween went away for a whole night? Maybe you never have. A mini vacay means a new environment to explore, new places to eat, and new things to see and try. Since it’s a new place for the both of you, you’ll be on an even playing field, meaning you’ll be navigating the ins and outs of the trip together. It’s a great chance to make lasting memories. And that’s what living is all about.

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