I have four teenagers in my home. Yes--four. They are 17, 17, 16 and almost 15 years of age. And yes I know that is crazy. But I love every moment with them. Okay, maybe not EVERY moment, but for the most part, most of the moments. They are fun, they keep me laughing and hey, they can dress and feed themselves! How awesome is that?? I can carry on conversations with them and get responses. We can discuss world peace (ha ha ha, okay the boys are more concerned with world domination) and future plans (insert deer in head lights look here..at least that is what I always get! SIGH)
The biggest thing is the knowledge I only have a short amount of time before the guys (and one girl) and grown and gone out of my home. I only have a short amount of time getting to know them more and influencing them (ha ha ha AS IF I had that power! LOL) Before I know it, they will be grown and gone (at least that's the plan) so for now, I choose to spend a lot of time with them. So I have been thinking of things I can do with them to not only entertain them, but to also get a little bit more time in with them. I wish I could say this list is full of free ideas but it's not. I would like to say the ideas are cheap, but I haven't found anything cheap when it comes to teens!! ;)
Tada--The list, as it is now
1. Drive them to and from work.
My guys work. So I drive them. I realize it is not always possible or feasible, but that is a few more moments to spend with them if you can. Maybe just one day a week. This is not a time to harp on their bedrooms, laundry piling up, the fact they didn't take the trash out, or have they applied to a college. This is simply a time to chat, sing out loud to the radio, tell jokes, laugh. Have fun with this time. You can lecture later. But for now, enjoy. Your teens will soon be young adults and you will need to foster a new relationship with them. You will always be their mom (or dad if you are a guy reading) so start now showing them you are human and not always the evil tyrant they think you are.
2. Drive-In movie.
Of course this only works if you have one nearby. A lot times they will charge by the car load and offer two movies for one price. Plus you can bring in your own snacks. So much cheaper than a regular theater. Plan to arrive early. Out here in West Texas, movies start at 9pm in the summer....you better be there by 7:30. Grab some lawn chairs and an extra radio if you have one handy. You just tune into the station to listen to the movie. And here is an added perk--your sweet teens can sit out in front of the vehicle while you and your sweetie snuggle up in the vehicle. So see...cheap, fun, and a chance to snuggle! What more could you want?
I think everywhere has a museum or two or three. Your teens probably haven't been since their 5th grade field trip. Why not take them back now? They are older and you generally don't have to worry about them touching things. They might actually read the little plagues and learn something! You may be pleasantly surprised at their response to the museum. My guys take FOREVER in them. I am the one wanting to hurry along to the next exhibit.
4. Play tourist in your area
Okay so this also a continuation of museums...but go play toursit. What sites are there available to you in your area? Historic homes? Amusement parks? Cool places to eat? Head over to your city's Chamber of Commerce and grab up the brocures for your town. Then pick some things to do.
Grab your sunscreen, big floppy hat and go outdoors. I have boys (and one tom-boy of a girl) so being outdoors is great. Of course out here in West Texas we miss a few things such as wildflowers and trees and water, but hey, it's all good. Take a picnic and head out. Lake, Federal or State parks or even city parks. My daughter will swing on a swing if it is available and she is 16yrs old. Trails to hike on...my guys are gone with a "see you at the top mom"
These aren't for just little kids. You can do actual crafts that are not made of popcycle sticks and glue. My son, Alex and I have a plan to do make a bird bath incorporating the poured paint process. He and I have a Lowe's trip planned and then we will be ready to pour! Do you know how to sew or knit or carve bears out of logs? If so, pass this down to your children. Of course don't bully them into it, persuade gently....ha! Also don't be a hard ass about it either. It's for fun, you want them to have fun..no need to scream because the chain was pulled too tight while knitting or whatever. Get your teens on Pinterest and pick out something to work on together. It is also a great time to learn something new.
Do you have a "save the Earth" kinda teen. It won't kill you to go and help them volunteer somewhere. Four hours a week, a month or whatever won't upset your life. Go...do something. And who knows you might like it! Let your teen decide the project and call and go in . And who knows maybe you will get a cool free t-shirt out of the deal.
8. Concerts, plays
Drag them!! Take them to listen to bands they may have not have heard of. Expose them to new sounds. Often times cities will host free concerts in the park. Hello?? FREE!! Grab a blanket and some drinks. Go sit and listen and if its good--dance! Of course unless your family is really into Polka or something, I would skip those. No reason to torture the ENTIRE family!
Just think with Teens, you can skip Disney on Ice and go see some real grown up type plays. Make it a date night (if you wish..one teen is cheaper than four!) or be brave and take them all. And as much as they grown and grumble about how lame it is to go see the play, drag them anyway. For our family, EVERY time they come out talking about how awesome it was. Even Drake, my 17yr old, told me one time about being drug somewhere, "you know I am gonna tell you I don't want to go, but we always have fun and I am glad I went"
9. Sporting events
Even if you are not a sports fan you will survive a couple of hours at a game. Here in West Texas we have hockey, soccer, football both indoors and outdoors and minor-league baseball. So we get to take our pick. Check out your local teams website because out here almost every home game comes with a freebie. Magnets, jerseys, caps, bobble heads.etc..
10. Take a drive
Yep, just get in and go. Last weekend we took the soon to be 15yr old on one of our famous Conner-Jimerson, seat of your pants, road trips. We got up early, went and had breakfast and then took off down the road. For once we had a destination in mind, but normally we just take a road and go. We took the long way to Fort Stockton and stopped and read every historical marker. Yep, I learned about Blue Mountain (how it isn't really a mountain and Rattlesnake Butte) We stopped at convenience stores for drinks and chips and drove. Well Mr. Looks Good in Wranglers drove. I, on the other hand, looked like a puppy dog in the car..looking out this window then that window and back and forth I would go.
If you are bit scared by a big random trip, just take one in town. Is there a street you have never been down? Who knows what you will find? Then you can branch out. We go for hours driving just to drive. If it wasn't for random drives I would have never learned about Notrees, Tx. Or that Wink, Tx is where Roy Orbinson grew up!
To help cut costs you can bring food and drinks with you. Stop at a random roadside park and grab a bite. We have been known to pull over in a decent ditch and eat out of the back of the car. Sounds very redneck doesn't it?? And the fun part...if the teens see something interesting they want to check out--we stop and check it out! We don't have dvd players in the suburban (I'm mean that way) but we do allow them their phones and PSVita. I don't want to torture them too bad! ;)
This list is to simply get you started. Hopefully it opened a few ideas on how to spend some more time with your teens. And yes, raising teens is like nailing jello to a tree sometimes
But it is possible!! Enjoy!!