With winter school vacations just around the corner, families are about to have a lot more time to spend together. But if your kids have reached the tween years, you may in for some disappointment: at this stage, many kids would frankly rather do anything other than spend time with you, making the season happy and festive. So how do you get tweens to stop playing video games and instead spend time with the family?
Circle of Moms member Jodi M. is experiencing this with her daughter. As she bemoans, "I get that the tween is all about her friends and social networking . . . but we are losing precious family time with texts, MySpace and Facebook. She just wants to be with her friends, but I want her to spend time with us. What do we do?"
Here Circle of Moms members offer five tips for successfully getting tweens to join your family's holiday festivities.
1. Let your tween bring a friend
If you can't beat them, join them, is the motto of many Circle of Moms members. Since tweens are barnacled to their friends, "Invite one friend over to join in the fun," says Tanya M.
2. Make your tween the event planner
Tweens are old enough to help you prepare for the holidays, so several Circle of Moms members recommend putting yours in charge of activity planning as a way of getting them invested in the events. Letting your tweens suggest an activity for you to enjoy together as a family is also a great way to establish a new holiday tradition. As Sarah C. puts it, "Letting them take part in the planning will encourage their participation."
Other moms suggest recruiting your tween to help in the kitchen. As Carolyn C. shares, "While I was peeling apples last Wednesday to make pies for Thanksgiving, I just told my son to do this or do that and before you know it my pies were in the oven and dinner was ready too. I realized it was a way to get them involved. I really enjoyed it and I must confess it's even been nice seeing them enjoy the food I cook and [that they] cook with me."
3. Limit family time
It's probably not realistic to expect tweens to spend an evening trekking through the neighborhood caroling with the family, but insisting that they share a family dinner during the holidays is not unrealistic, suggest several Circle of Moms members. Sarah C. requires her tween to participate in certain family get-togethers over the holiday season. "I set times of the day or night that the electronics are off, not just on vibrate but OFF. It could be an hour for dinner or a couple of hours for a family activity, even just watching a movie. Once that distraction is out of the picture they should come around and enjoy the family time."
4. Schedule a movie night
One activity tweens can relate to is lounging on the couch, so bring the holidays to them and watch holiday movies together. Renee H.'s family watches "all the classic holiday shows like Rudolph, Frosty and Charlie Brown, not to mention the Grinch."
5. Let your tween play Santa
Your tween may no longer believe in Santa, but he might get a kick out of playing the jolly old guy and helping spread holiday cheer to younger kids. In a similar spirit, Kelly H. suggests encouraging your tween to think of a way to help those less fortunate during the holiday season. At this stage kids are old enough to understand that many families will not be able to have abundant holidays this year, and that their generosity is both needed and appreciated. (For specific ideas on ways to involve kids of all ages in helping others, read How to Raise Kind and Thoughtful Kids.)
How do you spend family time with your tweens?
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