“Field Trips” With Kids Still Work With Teens



One of my favorite parts of the being the mother of young children was creating little “field trips” that I took my kids on. I would pack lunches and snacks and make plans for just the three of us (and sometimes with friends) to go to Cosley Zoo in Wheaton, Klein Creek Farm in Winfield, various little kid water parks, nature centers and other local sites.

My kids are now teens – a 13-year-old son and a soon to be 16-year-old daughter. I’m still close to them, but lately it seems almost impossible for me to get time with both kids at once. They have their own schedules for school, sports and activities, and have their own groups of friends of course, so it’s tough.

Don’t get me wrong – I love spending time with my kids and their friends, whenever this happens, because I love talking to them all. And fortunately, I’m lucky in that my daughter’s friends think my son is a hoot and my son’s friends enjoy talking to my daughter.

Every once in a while though, whether planned or impromptu, I find that I can still make “field trips” a time to connect with my teen children.

At Halloween time, we stole an hour and a half to head out to the local pumpkin farm one afternoon after school when they had no activities (rare!) to choose pumpkins and get some apple cider donuts and hot cider. And, we even found time to carve the pumpkins with our good friend and neighbor they kids grew up with.

We try to keep up holiday traditions up as much as we can, but this year I ended up having to drive around separately on two different days after I got the kids from their respective schools. I wasn’t planning on it, but we just took the opportunity to look at Christmas lights when we could. It was okay, even though we weren’t together. It gave me time to talk individually with each child about what was going on in their lives, or simply how their day went as we admired the growing twilight and the beauty of the holiday lights as they came on from house to house.

Sometimes the field trip is an unexpected one. After taking an athletic conditioning class, my son was interested in learning more about eating well. The trainer recommended we got to a store called “Fresh Thyme,” which has a lot of great healthy foods. My son loved it! He was so fun to watch as he made his own peanut butter at a machine there, sampled the scents of essential oils diffusing, and tried various healthy foods as we ate a quick lunch.

With my daughter, it’s pretty much a beauty treatment outing that she likes the best – with a cup of Starbucks on the side. Pedicures, manicures and shopping continue to top the list with her.

So even though they are changing and becoming more independent, I think there’s always a way to find connections with your kids. If you always make a point of doing that here and there, you’ll always find ways to get special time with them. And those times are great when they happen and precious to remember.

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