We look forward to our college students coming home for the holidays for months so we can finally spend some quality time, only to have them kiss our cheek and ask for the car keys as soon as they walk in the door. It’s normal for your college students and young adult children to want to spend time catching up with friends, but at the same time, we don’t want to feel like the holidays came and went without some quality time with our kids. You may need to plan ahead a bit, but you and your young adult children can create some new family memories and even get closer during the holidays. Here are some tips to spend quality time with your young adult over the holidays.
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1. State Your Expectations
Sometime before the holiday, have a quick conversation with your child about when and how much time you expect them to spend with the family. If your family always goes to church on Christmas Eve, then let your child know you expect that tradition to continue.
I’ve even gone so far as to tell my kids to keep a particular date open for a family event to be named later. They’re usually amenable to family plans as long as they have plenty of time to catch up with their friends.
2. Schedule Time for Some Family Self-Care
Mani-pedi time is always a fun way to reconnect, but there are other ways to schedule a bit of shared downtime for decompressing during the holidays. A friend of mine loves to spend Sunday afternoons with her son and husband getting foot massages and then going out for Chinese dumplings afterward. How fun is that? A shared yoga class is a great way to bond and relax too.
3. Learn Something New Together
My kids and I took a “knife skills” cooking class together during the holidays a few years ago. My children were elegantly dicing onions by the end of the class while I tried to blame my complete incompetence on being left-handed. It was a great way to get to know each other outside of the normal parent/child roles and we all (okay, just them) learned some new skills.
4. Attend a Concert or Sporting Event
Showing up with tickets to a hot event is a sure-fire way to get some family time. Pick an event you know your child will enjoy, even if it’s outside your normal comfort zone. You’ll get to experience the joy of watching your child really having fun and you might find a new interest of your own.
5. Take a Family Walk
You don’t have to spend money to spend time with your kids, though. Suggest a walk through the neighborhood or a hike in the woods. Conversation seems to just flow more naturally when you’re engaged in an activity and not just sitting around staring at each other.
6. Ask Them to Help Cook the Big Meal
Maybe you’re like me and have been cooking by yourself for years while the kids lounge on the sofa watching football or playing video games. Why not ask them to contribute a dish of their choosing to the meal this year?
7. Sit Down and Hang Out
Maybe you’re like me in this respect as well. The meal is over and everyone retires to the living room to digest the turkey. Everyone except for you, that is, because you’re already cleaning up the kitchen. This year, why not take some time to sit down with everyone and spend some time together before starting the clean-up effort. And recruit your family to help you!
8. Set Up a Puzzle in a Corner
This is one of my favorite ways to get in some quality time. Start a jigsaw puzzle and leave it out during the holiday. People are just naturally drawn to it and before you know it, everyone is around the puzzle chattering away.
9. Have a One-on-One Coffee Date
There’s something about sitting in a coffee shop sharing a hot drink that’s just somehow convivial, don’t you think? You and your child can sit and talk about your lives and if the conversation falters, you can indulge in a little idle speculation about the other patrons.
10. Take What You Can Get
A few years ago, my husband was upstairs getting ready to take a walk with me when I burst into the room while he was tying his shoes. “The walk is off, I’m going to the mall!” My daughter had suddenly asked me to go shopping with her and I jumped at the chance. We had a lovely afternoon strolling through the stores and my husband was completely understanding. When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes your way, you’ve got to be ready to seize it.
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