Jan 312014

Tween Years

I have a beautiful 11 year old DD and a 9 year old DS {who is very advanced and acts more like he is the same age as DD11} and it seems as though if they aren’t playing and making a ton of noise then they are sitting there on their Ipods or computers oblivious to the world around them. I especially love when I am talking to thmy tweens and someone  gets sucked into the world of some game.

Now before I get a bunch of people jumping on me, my children have everything set up so that we know what they download and when and if we say “screen” they have to not touch anything and show their screen. They only recently earned the privilege of using the internet in their bedrooms and they still have to have the door open. I also have to have their passwords to get into things or they lose them -indefinitely depending on the infraction. Life with Tweens

About 6 months ago we started to allow DD11 to use messaging with her friends and we all have access to her contact lists and have to approve new contacts. The internet is just too dangerous. DS9 has imported DD’s contact list as they are friends with a similar group of kids but he is more into gaming and playing sports.

10 Ways that I Steal Quality Time

So, how do you get your tween off their I-device and back into the home so that they can not only be assets to the house but also enjoy fellowship and have a relationship with them?

1. When I see the chance I will often ask if they want to play a game of scrabble. To make this more interesting we will often play with online abbreviations like “lol” and “brb” as allowed words with the rule that in order to use something like  that we must know what it actually stands for. We also play Bible words, words we have heard in a recent movie, pirate and of course plain old English. We also normally allow French to sneak onto our board because this is Canada and we have a half French family so any vocabulary is good, plus, it alleviates any frustration and allows for us to have fun, which is really what its all about.

2. We watch certain TV shows together. One night a week DD11 and I shut off all the lights in the house and watch an hour of our favorite creepy show.

3. We date. DD11 and I will have “Pizza dates” where we make our favorite homemade pizza together for lunch and then we will eat it together and talk while cooking and cleaning and eating and even enjoy a soda together, which is rare for my children. DS9 and I also date. His dates normally cost a little because they involve takeout food but the 20 dollars for lunch for the two of us to bond over and talk is definitely worth it. These dates are often done in the car after a shopping trip which he hates to do but tolerates because well he has little choice.

4. Decorating, furniture, unpacking, fragrances and even new fish are all something that we decide together. Where should this picture go? What scent would we all like in our wax melter? Lets re-arrange the living room furniture, where should this go? This seems to give them some directed “play” that keeps us together AND forces  them to use their imagination. It also gives them a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of being grown up to assist in making decisions that the entire family {and friends} get to enjoy! I have noticed that while DD11 likes to make sure books and nick-knacks are all in the exact right place while DS9 really likes to place artwork and furniture.

5. Braiding hair! Braiding or doing each others hair is one of my favorite times because you have to be still and either sit in silence just enjoying being together or you talk and its during these quiet and still moments  that we often discuss our hearts with one another. Even DS’s love doing this, though they don’t braid they love to brush my hair and oh how I love to get my hair brushed!

6. Read -pretty self explanatory. We enjoy reading with one another and there are many times when we are all reading different books but lounging together just the same!

7. Pray and talk about God -in the summer we also do Bible studies through Postal Bible Studies. They are free and give the kids points for their success to earn rewards!

8. Hobby together, we keep fish, have 4 dogs and quite a lot of land.

9. We go for walks in the evenings together with the dogs {when there isn’t 5 feet of snow on our trail that is} and we enjoy looking at the tracks we find, talking about the different trees and even seeing who can win the “race”. This time is not only spiritual being in the woods with the dogs, kids and nature but it is also the perfect time to have no WiFi and talk to each other. Its also healthy so win-win-win!

10. Squish into the car and argue about who has less room. Yes I know, sounds lovely, but those car rides where we are all squished with no room to move give us the chance to talk, bond, test our patience and of course look out the windows and discuss things we see. It’s also another opportunity to learn by asking the kids what the road signs mean.

What I Have Learned

One thing I have learned in my years of parenting is that its not about actually doing something to create a memory. Its creating a memory while doing something -even if that something is nothing more than just being. Together!

How do you spend time with your children and your tweens? Are you a gadget family like ours is or do you keep the computers and games to education only? What have you found as you entered into these more trying times as a parent?

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