Feb 012015
 
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As our kids grow, they become more and more independent. Once they hit the age where they are working their own job and driving a car, it seems like they get farther and farther away from us. It can be a very difficult transition for any parent. We are used to our kids needing us and once they begin to float off on their own, it can be disappointing because we miss them!

When this happens there are a few things you can do to still have some quality time with your teen – the key is to make the time.

Date Night

If you can schedule a date night with your teen, this is one of the best ways to get some of their time. Scheduling it in advance is even better because it can give you both something to look forward to and it is less likely to interfere with other things. Go to a movie, go out to dinner, go to the mall; whatever the activity as long as you both enjoy it then you will enjoy the time together.

Meal Time

If you can even catch 30 minutes to sit down and have a meal together, that time can be priceless. If one of you will be out around dinner time, try to meet somewhere for lunch. Eating a meal together is not just about the food, but about the company and the time you have to chat about your day or upcoming events.

Shopping

It may sound silly, but take your teen grocery or household shopping! If you are heading to the supermarket, chances are that your teen would love to pick out some treats for them or help with meal planning for the family. Or, if you are planning a trip to buy household supplies at Target, bring your teen along and let them browse for other items. A one-hour shopping trip can actually be fun and gives you just that little bit of time together you both need.

Regular TV Show

If a new series is starting up that you are both interested in, try to plan on watching it together each week. This is another one of those scheduled events that you two can look forward to and share.

Exercise

Go for a run, take a walk, or head to the gym. Not only is this a healthy activity, but if you and your teen do it together on a regular basis it will be terrific for you both. Whether you bond over weights or just chat while on the treadmill, use this as an opportunity!

Again, the key to time with your teen is making the time. Find something you both enjoy doing and do it together. Chances are your teen will be just as happy as you that you found that time!

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Aug 232014
 

Senior picture day is an important day in your teen’s life. It is the first of many fun, new, and exciting adventures your teen will experience as they begin their last year of high school.

Photo by: mooncat, http://www.freeimages.com/photo/836078

Photo by: mooncat, www.freeimages.com/photo/836078

If this is your first time taking a teenage girl to a senior picture photo shoot, here are some tips that will help!

  1. Choose outfits to compliment the backgrounds. There are normally several backgrounds to choose from and most photo shoots will include more than one. Try to choose outfits with colors that accentuate your teen’s features as well as the background. Simpler patterns work well for outdoor scenes where there are normally a lot of colors. Patterned or multi-color clothing works better for minimal or single-color backgrounds.
  1. Choose outfits to compliment your teen’s features. Look at colors that bring out the color of your teen’s eyes and hair color. Try to avoid tops that are too low cut or skirts that are too short because the photographer will pose your teen in a variety of positions. The more flattering the outfit, the better your teen will feel, and the better the pictures will turn out!
  1. Bring an extra outfit. Once you see a background in person instead of in a catalog or online, you and your teen may decide that the chosen outfit does not work as well as you thought it would. Having an extra outfit or two just in case is a safe bet.
  1. Remember the accessories. After choosing the outfits, pick out accessories to accentuate each one. From necklaces and earrings to shoes and belts to handbags and hats, make sure that each outfit has the decorations it needs without overdoing it.
  1. Bring make-up and hair accessories. Whether your teen will do her own make-up and hair or the studio staff will do it for her, bring along some extras. Necessary make-up touch-ups for outdoor scenes or changing up the hairstyle at the last minute are always possible. Be prepared.
  1. Preparing for the day. Be sure that your teen gets plenty of sleep the night before the photo shoot so that her eyes are bright, not puffy. Make sure that you have both eaten before you go and bring along some bottled water.

Finally, have fun! This should be a fun activity for you and your teen. After all, how often does someone (who is not a professional model) get to have a photo shoot? If you are both in good spirits and having a good time, then it will show through in the pictures and be a great day to remember as well!

 

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Jul 132013
 

As lives get busy and children grow up, it can be hard to find the quality time to spend with our children.  Jobs, school, sports practices, recitals, friends…all take up our time.  One thing that I would suggest, especially as our kids turn to teens, is a “date night”.

It does not have to be every week and could even just be once a month, but setting aside one night, few hours, or whatever works for you is a great idea.  Be sure that you plan that time together so that you choose something that both enjoy.

Abby and Sandy Summer 2013

Abby and Sandy Summer 2013

My daughter and I love Mexican cuisine.  So, for our date night we go out to dinner to our favorite Mexican restaurant.  We really take our time and enjoy the dinner.  It has become such a “thing” for us that my daughter does not like anyone else to ever go to that restaurant with us!

Other suggestions for your time together could include a movie, shopping, mini golf, picnic, archade, spa day, or even the beach.

We receive a community paper that lists local classes being offered.  I thought it would be really fun for me and my daughter to take a class together.  Whether it is artistic like pottery or painting or something valuable like self-defense, this is also a great idea.  My daughter has not warmed to this option yet, unfortunately, but I am still trying!

The point is that if you plan a regular date night with your teen then you can both look forward to that special time together, however often it may be.  It is time for just the two of you to reconnect and I know that it really works for my daughter and I.  It is one of those times we use to talk about serious things, girl things, or just laugh with each other.

Do you do something like this with your son or daughter?  Please share your comments and suggestions!

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May 182013
 

We all have some sort of routine in our lives.  We may have routines that take us through the morning, the whole day or even longer.  We all get set in those particular routines and it can be hard to veer off that path.  However, I learned from my daughter that it’s okay to steer a different direction once in a while.  It can actually be a good, healthy, fun thing to do.

I have a pretty set routine during the week.  I work 8am – 5pm, Monday through Friday.  After work I come home, relax for just a bit by doing a little writing.  I then make dinner, watch some TV, and then head off to bed by 10pm so I can rise early and do it all again.  Quite a routine, isn’t it?  Sound familiar?

Alarm Clock Photo By Sandy Stachowiak

Alarm Clock Photo By Sandy Stachowiak

My teenage daughter likes to keep busy and do things.  She likes it best when we are constantly moving rather than sitting around.  I tell her it is because she has a lot more energy than me and because she does not know what it is like to work 40+ hours per week.  I do not like to go out anywhere after I get home from work.  But lately she has been trying more and more to get me out of this routine.

Although I do enjoy relaxing and trying to recoup after a day’s work; I have to admit I am now veering off my routine a bit to do things with my daughter.  Going out to dinner during the work week, doing some shopping after work, or just being out after dark on a Tuesday are all breaks from the routine.  And you know what?  It’s not so tough, it’s not so bad – it’s actually nice and it’s actually relaxing too!

She tries the same thing with me on the weekends and I cannot blame her for trying.  Spending weekends doing chores or yard work is not exactly fun.  So, I now try to use one day to work around the house or yard and the other day to get out and do something fun.  I feel it is a good compromise and it works for us.

So, the moral of my story is that my daughter has taught me it is okay to break from the routine.  It’s actually better than okay – it’s fun!

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May 052013
 

I never realized until I dealt with a stressful situation in my current job just how much my mood affects our household.  Have you ever thought about it?  I didn’t until recently. I was sucked into letting my job affect me so much that my stress level was through the roof.  I came home angry because I was stressed out completely at 5pm every day.  My boyfriend who has lived with my daughter and I for 6 years works at the same company that I do.  So, when the pressure came down on him as well – well, I don’t have to tell you what it was like at 5pm at our house.  We were both in such horrible moods that it would take hours to just relax and be able to settle into a nice evening – and by that time, it was bed time! Neither my boyfriend nor I realized the affect that this was having on my daughter, our dog, ourselves, or our quality of life.

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, vivekchugh, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1156006

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, vivekchugh, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1156006

Upon realizing this, it was like a revelation to me.  I could not believe how miserable our household was becoming or how miserable that I was becoming, as a person.  I was letting it all get to me WAY too much!  It was to the point that when we came home from work, my daughter along with our dog, would retreat to my daughter’s room until dinner. Then most times after dinner, they or she, would go right back there!  I was spending NO time with my daughter in the evenings.

In between all of this, when we would happen across each other in the kitchen or living room at the same time, it was always just so tense.  I could not figure out why at the time.

Well, I’m sure you can imagine after telling you all of this just how bad I felt.  We had definitely fallen into not only a pattern but a trap of misery!  I just really, really had no idea how badly our moods were affecting our household.

One day, and I’m honest about this, it just hit me.  It really, really hit me…like a brick wall on wheels!  The dynamic in our home was so affected by the moods we were in that it was pulling us apart, making us all cranky and causing undo stress on everyone – including the dog! Once I realized this, things changed immediately and have not been the same since.  I do not ever, ever again want my daughter to run to her room or our dog to run to her bed every time we walk in the door!  Not ever again! I have taken steps to make sure it does not happen again.  I have:

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, marafet, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1322185

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, marafet, www.sxc.hu/photo/1322185

  1. Made sure that I leave my job where it belongs – in the office
  2. Made an effort to put on a happy face when I get home – afterall, seeing my daughter is usually the brightest part of my day, so why not act like it!
  3. Made my own life better by leaving the stress behind AND not letting the stress get to me like it did!
  4. Made sure that I only check my work email when there is a big event happening, not every time the phone beeps.  I actually turned off email notifications for my work email account on my phone.

I made these changes about 6 months ago and have noticed a huge improvement in our home.  We are all much happier and enjoy our time together – and actually spend time together!  We do not grump and mope, we are not cranky and angry.  We treat each other better and we show it.

Life is better – life is good!

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Mar 032013
 

No one likes chores.  It does not matter if it is indoor cleaning, yard work or running errands; I do not know anyone who likes doing chores.  However, there really are ways to do them where you can have some quality time with your kids and even have a good time.  Yes – even have a good time!  Here is what my daughter and I have learned from each other about making chores fun…

Sweeping the floor

Sweeping the floor

Indoor Chores
I taught my daughter that music is key – especially with a teenager, but it works with little ones too because I did this when my daughter was younger.  Put on some music you all like and clean to it. Vacuum to it.  Sweep to it.  Dust to it.  Soon you will find that you are all dancing and singing while cleaning.

Running Errands
My daughter taught me that if you have several stops to make, try to work in lunch or dinner afterwards.  It will give you all something to look forward to when the errands are done.  Turn up the radio in the car (yes, music again) and sing along to something you all enjoy while travelling between stops.  If you have a lot of driving to do, work in some car games like “My Father Owns a Grocery Store”.  Grocery or household goods shopping can also be fun by simply looking at fun things – try on some silly sunglasses, look at new decorations for the kids’ rooms, pick out some different snacks or visit the bakery for a special treat, or if you are able to spend a few extra dollars try the “dollar aisle” if the store has one.  Depending on where you have to go and what you have to do, there are ways to make the journey as fun as the destination!

Cutting the lawn

Mowing the lawn

Yard Work
This one is the little tougher, but there are ways to make it easier on everyone.  My daughter has a goal of paying off her cell phone with each grass cut, so she is anxious to mow the lawn to pay off that debt!  She is also at an age where getting a bit of sun on her skin is an interest, so she puts on some suntan lotion while doing work outside in hopes of improving her tan.  When we lived in the Midwest and she was younger, raking leaves into piles and letting her jump into them when her part was done also made it fun.  Depending on the part of the country that you live in and the season it is, there are ways to make outdoor chores less icky.

You might have some suggestions on things your family does to make chores a little more fun as well.  Feel free to share!

 

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Oct 142012
 

I really had no idea to what extent quality time with my teen meant until it happened by chance.  I have not forgotten it and hope you all can take something from it.

I work at a job that spews stress.  Coming home at 5pm every day, stressed out, exhausted – it takes its toll.  The toll is taken on the whole house, not just me.  I noticed that when I came home, my daughter would take off to her bedroom.  I thought it was just her; but soon realized it was also because of me.

Over the course of several months I had some physical problems that in the end caused me to need neck surgery.  This surgery would keep me out of the office for at least 4 weeks.  After that, I worked part-time from home and gradually built up strength to work more until I was able to return to the office.  But, what I noticed while I spent so much time at home is what really hit me.

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, marczini, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1386612

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, marczini, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1386612

My daughter would come home from high school each day, especially in the beginning after my surgery, asking if I needed anything, while I lay in bed.  That was the first thing she would do upon returning home each day.  After she changed clothes and put away her school stuff, she would come back to my room.  She would just sit and talk with me.  Sometimes she would bring her computer and we would look at shopping sites.  We would discuss purses and shoes, make-up and skin care, or her day and her friends.  She would stay with me for a couple of hours, at times even falling asleep by just watching TV with me.

I never realized until this happened just how much that time with my daughter was so important.  I did not realize that the stress I brought home from work affected our relationship so negatively.

My daughter and I reconnected completely.  It was almost like we found each other again.  These are things we should have been doing all along.  But, life just got in the way.

Since this time I have gone back into the office four days per week.  But, that one day that I am working from home I make sure to take time with my daughter when she arrives home from school.  I ask her about her day, her friends, boys, grades, and classes – pretty much anything that I know she deals with each day too.  AND, more importantly I have learned to come home from work on the other days and NOT be completely stressed out.  I take the time to talk with her.   I spend time asking her about HER day when I walk in the door.  And, when I walk in that door I try hard to leave work behind.

Spending time with your teen is more important that you realize.  My surgery was a blessing in disguise – it brought my daughter and I much closer.  It happened at the right time as well.  Being close to your child during their teenage years is essential.  I am thankful that I realized this and became close to my daughter again.

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