Guest Post by Starr Cliff
One Mother’s Day, our pastor asked, “What would your kids say if asked ‘Do you think Mom is fun?’” (I haven’t asked my kids yet. I’m a scaredy-cat.) It wasn’t a question posed to heap yet another responsibility on moms. I know my tendency when I hear a question like that is to respond with a sarcastic, “Oh great, now in addition to laundry and dishes and taxi service I have to be a comedienne?!? Perfect.” But the point of the question was to help us remember to find joy in this journey. With all the tasks before us, and the job of raising polite, respectable, and competent humans, we can get weighed down, driven to accomplish our to do list and forget to laugh and have fun.
Finding joy while raising tweens and teens is hard!
Tweens and teens tend to be in a life stage where emotions run high. Frustration and quarreling (amongst siblings as well as with parents) can set a bummer mood in the home sometimes. I think I was pretty great at “fun” when my kids were young. I mean, preschoolers think everything is giggle-worthy, right? But some years have passed and themed family nights just don’t quite go over the same with tweens and teens.
So how do we cultivate joy and laughter with kids who are in this stage? Hyper self-awareness and sensitivity toward being “laughed at” (even if that’s not your intent) can sometimes rule the day. I think the very best, gut-busting laughter and joy happens spontaneously when our heart is right and we are trying to intentionally enjoy our kids instead of just manage them. But I also think that in these tween/teen years, when attitudes are being addressed, rules are being challenged, and behaviors are being shaped, it’s good to try and bring some deliberate, intentional fun to the home.
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Here are some things that seem to lift spirits around here:
- looking through vacation pics together & sharing fun memories
- watching funny YouTube videos together
- give everyone a $5 bill and set them loose in Target
- a spontaneous ice cream run (no one ever says no)
- making fun of old pictures of Mom and Dad from middle & high school
- let them create the playlist for the car when you’re running errands (especially when they are in a grumpy mood about running errands)
- making slow-mo videos
- anything spontaneous and out of the ordinary: Jumping in the lake/pond with their clothes on, spray them down with the kitchen sink sprayer, let them dumpster dive and build something with the old scrap wood they find…..Anytime they anticipate you will say “no” and you surprise them with a “yes” generates good vibes!
- find some FUN games that you actually might enjoy a little. As mom to a tween, you’ve long said see ya later sucker to Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders and GOOD RIDDANCE! Some favorites around here right now are Rummikub, Guesstures, Charades, Pictureka, Yahtzee and Chess
- give them some challenges that involve cold hard cash. My brother-in-law recently offered my 13 year old a generous cash prize if he could solve a Rubik Cube within 3 days. He successfully completed the challenge, and I didn’t hear “I’m bored” for 3 whole days! Plus it was a great lesson in not giving up. Other challenge ideas would be finishing a book series within a certain amount of time (for reluctant readers), or running a mile within a certain time (for reluctant movers).
- other moms do cool stuff like play video games with their kids. I have resolved this will never be me. I just don’t even get it. Minecraft seems like the most boring thing on the planet to me. I will occasionally submit to a 2 minute “okay, show me your new world you created” but that’s as much effort as I’m willing to give. I’m out.
Yet again, this post is written for THIS mama writing it. Here’s to enjoying raising tweens and teens, finding joy in the journey, laughter, and FUN! Hope this helps you process some ways that you can do the same and let’s agree that there’s no need to compare our joy to another mama’s… let’s each search to find what works for our family!!
What are some of your favorite ways to infuse JOY into your home? Share in the comments below.
Starr is a mom to three maddeningly charming kids and wife to one endlessly patient man. This mama loves to write, sing, read & collect friendships. She is excited anytime women come together to support and encourage one another.