When our children are babies, our days are filled with feeding, rocking, bed time stories, and not nearly enough sleep. In the blink of an eye, our babies are toddlers. They explore every nook of our home and we engage them through blocks, coloring, abc’s and 123’s. Far too soon, we wake up and our children have turned into teenagers with enormous appetites and independent minds. Our hearts sadden a bit as we realize that our teens will not be in our space much longer. Time together becomes our most valuable treasure. We long to be involved in their lives and want to find ways to make memories together. Through adventures with my own teenagers, I’ve discovered 5 wonderful ways to engage the independent young adults in our lives.
1. Take advantage of car time.
Whether we drive our teens to school, a friend’s house, or pick them up from an activity, it’s important to make use of car time together. In fact, car time may become some of our most valued memories. Use this time to ask open questions about their day. Let them play their favorite music and ask about their favorite tunes. Make it a tradition to stop by your closest Starbucks, Better Buzz, or nearest coffee hut before school.
2. Surprise your teenager with an event they will enjoy.
Purchase tickets to a concert, sporting event, play, or other event that you know they would love. You don’t have to like the band or sporting event. The important thing is that you make memories and spend time together. Take lots of pictures. If you are able, purchase a t-shirt or other memorabilia to commemorate the event.
3. After school snacks are always a hit.
Teenagers love to eat. And they are always hungry! Besides, the way to a teenager’s heart is often through food. Make a tradition to stop for a milkshake or Hot Fudge Sunday once a week. Stop for a slurpee or other favorite after school snack on occasion. Better yet, have a fun snack ready at the table when they get home. My two teenage boys still love Muddy Buddies! They also enjoy apples with caramel and pumpkin bread. The aromas alone create a fun and friendly atmosphere for teenagers.
4. Take a last minute, unplanned road trip together.
Last summer I told my boys that we would take a mini road trip. We decided to head north on the 101 without any agenda other than to stop at pretty views to take pictures and film. When we made it as far as Oceanside, the boys thought it would be fun to head further north to Santa Monica. With nowhere to be, I agreed to the idea. We made it to Santa Monica rather late and had fun as we strolled along the pier. After our 2 a.m. dinner, we headed to our hotel. The next day, the boys asked to explore Hollywood Blvd. They helped navigate the entire trip, took many pictures, and we created amazing memories. Sometimes, it’s fun to go with the flow. I’m positive that our unplanned summer trip will be talked about in the future.
5. Explore together!
We live in America’s Finest City, blessed with near perfect weather! Moreover, adventures are exciting for teens! My boys and I love to look through the website Hidden San Diego in search of endless opportunities to explore our city. We have found secret swings, a swinging bridge, hikes that end with a jump in the ocean, fun caves, and more! Check out the site together and let your teens choose an adventure for the family!