I am reading your mind right now, “Family, fun, time, and teens? All in the same sentence? Are you joking? These words don’t go together in my house! It’s hard enough to get my teen to be seen in a public place with me.”
I know. I am with you (ouch!).
Yes, it’s true, our teens are working towards their independence and it’s normal for them to want to spend more time with their friends and less time with us. Rather than a drumroll, we get an eye roll and a less than enthusiastic attitude when we mention these two words, “family time”.
Don’t lose hope. Yes, it’s possible to have fun family time—even with our teen. Here is a list of ideas I have compiled from my own experience and other moms. I am committed to picking at least 5 to try this summer with my own family.
But first, make sure you include your teen in the decision making process. Ask them what they would like to do, offer choices, focus on activities they enjoy, and even consider letting them invite a friend. Whatever you do, don’t try and force conversation or control outcomes. We set the mood and tone —I wish this wasn’t true. Sometimes the wisest thing we moms can do is to just BE and enjoy ourselves, even if nobody else is. The goal of family fun time is to gain together time so you can build better relationships—one of acceptance, where your teen feels safe to be his or her ownself and have fun with you.
Here are 50 Ideas for Family Fun Time Together:
- Help at a homeless shelter
- Visit a local landmark
- Walk a dog at an animal rescue
- Visit the elderly
- Join them in their favorite video game
- Plant a garden
- Find an indoor rock climbing wall
- Attend a yoga class
- Go laser tagging
- Find an arcade and play games
- Play pool or ping pong
- Go to a movie of their choice (given you’re okay with it)
- Attend a classical concert or the theater
- Get a makeover at a cosmetics counter
- Get or give a manicure, pedicure or foot massage
- Watch old family movies and reminisce
- Share old photo albums and sweet memories
- Make their favorite desert together
- Cook a favorite meal from start to finish
- Visit a museum
- Read jokes from a joke book or play Madlibs
- Enjoy a jigsaw puzzle over several days
- Play music, dance and videotape each other—(only be aware, they might find it so funny that they Snapchat it to their friends, just like my daughter did!)
- Paint pottery at a local pottery store.
- Play cards or a board game.
- Create Vision Boards (cut images from magazines that you like and paste to poster board, then share them with each other).
- Watch a TV series.
- Run or walk a race.
- Go Fishing.
- Ice skate or roller blade.
- Take a cooking class.
- Play tennis.
- Go – Go Karting
- Workout together
- Hike on a local nature trail
- Pick an adventurous destination for a day trip
- Cookout or go camping
- Stargaze (make it really fun and download the Star Walk app)
- Find a pool, waterpark, beach, or a lake
- Have a backyard or beach bonfire with s’mores
- Make a picnic and watch the sunset
- Fly a kite.
- Play sports—basketball (or horse or four square), football, soccer, badminton, softball, frisbee, or kick the can
- Attend an outdoor music festival, amusement park or local carnival (don’t be surprised if they want to invite a friend)
- Dine at an ethnic restaurant of their choice
- Go to a local farmers market. Let them pick what they want to eat
- Play golf—miniature or adult
- Go kayaking, canoeing, or sailing
- Play karaoke
- Learn to do something new together
Make a list of a few things you would like to do with your teen and as a family. Be intentional to schedule ahead of time and include your teen in the decision making process. Word of caution, remember that creating family fun is a time for us moms to relax, enjoy, and not feel the need to make “fun” happen which I have been known to do on occasion. It’s also not a time to bring up their grades or your concerns. Go with the flow, have fun and remember to laugh often.
Question: Please share your ideas of fun activities that you have enjoyed with your family. What has worked and not worked well?