"What can I do to make my teenage daughter WANT to spend time with me?" asks Circle of Moms member Kim P. The odds feel stacked against her: she's busy with her job, and her teen daughter's time is filled with school, friends, boys, and Facebook. She wants to spend more time with her but doesn't now exactly where to begin.
Welcome to the exasperating world of moms of teens. Even though teens may act like their moms are the last people in the world they'd ever want to hang out with, Circle of Moms members agree that "bonding is more crucial than ever during the high school years. The experts agree with them: In their book, Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey, We're Going to Grandma's, authors Carleton Kendrick and Barbara Cooke underscore the importance of this time, and advise moms: "to stay connected and deepen the relationship even when the road is bumpy."
But in a world where, as Brooke R. describes it, "your teen will make a million excuses why he/she can't do one-on-one time," and your busy lives leave you darting past each other at the bookends of the day, "you have to be super creative." Here, Circle of Moms members offer smart tips for bonding with your teen.
1. Seize the small moments
"I grab any excuse to get together with them, even if it is just picking up Starbucks...or listening to a YouTube video that pops up on her computer screen," says Brooke R. When schedules are crazed and being in the same place at the same time is rare, she's one of several moms who suggest making the most out of small moments when paths do cross. Try to be alert to when they do want to talk – even if it's just during the five minutes before they head out the door to school. As Kay B. explains, "Whatever it takes, you have to try be available – meaning listening and paying attention whether it is a small time or longer."
2. Show interest in your teen's interests
One of the fastest ways to get a teen's attention (and that is what you need to do when time is of the essence) is to play into his or her ego and demonstrate a sincere interest in the things he's interested in. "Ask yourself, do you have any hobbies in common?" says Amy C. "Having something to talk about and do together helps. Scrap booking, photography, sports, exercise. Looking back, I wish my parents had shown interest in something I wanted to do instead of trying to include me in things they wanted to do."
3. Book one-on-one time on your calendars
Several Circle of Moms members suggest going beyond those spontaneous moments and actually booking time on one another's calendars. Vicki L. asks her three busy daughters to "go to a movie, meet at Caribou Coffee, or plan some time to do something they love, together." She also schedules movie nights at home, with DVDs and popcorn. With each of her girls, it's been key to ask "what she wants to do" and to be "willing to do it at her convenience." Kay B. invites her teen out for pedicures, or for lunch and a movie. She stresses that the key is not just taking your teen out for some one on one time, but also using this time to communicate.
4. Invite your teen shopping
One surefire way to get some teens to spend some time with you is to invite them to go shopping, or to accept their invitations to do so. "When [my daughter] asks me to go to the store...with her, I say yes even if I may not be up for it, because it is our time and we can get caught up," says Lynn C. Louise G. finds that inviting her daughter to accompany her on her own errands creates good opportunities for bonding: "Do errands together...so you can chat on neutral turf."
5. Connect through social media
When all else fails, several moms suggest going digital: tweeting, texting, posting on Facebook, and e-mailing with your teen. As Circle of Moms member Jude explains, "You might not be having the fun friend times you want, but connecting on the Internet or communicating through a text is connecting."
How do you squeeze in quality time with your teen?
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