In Why Christian Moms Need Special Outings With Tween Daughters, I shared some of the reasons I believe it’s so important for moms to take the time to go on special outings with their tween daughters. Honestly, I would encourage you to continue the practice well into adulthood. Your daughters will need your love, attention and mentoring all of their lives.
Maybe you love the idea, but have no idea what would be a good outing after you have been to the movies, had a manicure or gone shopping. Below, I’ve shared some of the things I did with my daughter as well as some things my friends have done with their daughters. Unlike other areas of Christian parenting, I don’t think these outings have to revolve around a spiritual or religious activity. Some of our best conversations have happened in tea rooms or on walks on the beach.
Most of these activities will give you plenty of time for interaction – if nothing else on the car ride to and from the activity. Remember, all of the conversation doesn’t have to be serious and “educational”. It’s okay to just be silly and laugh with your daughter. In fact, we had one spell where my daughter and I de-stressed from life by watching episodes of Psych and laughing together. If you spend enough quality time together and really listen and ask thoughtful questions, the deep conversations will eventually happen, too.
- High Tea. My daughter made high tea an “after the first day of school” tradition. We had to change tea rooms over the years from time to time, but the tradition stayed the same.
- Orchards and farms. Find a place an hour or two away where you can pick apples or something else you can then bring home and use to cook something together.
- Aquariums and Zoos. These were often family trips and places we take out of town visitors. When she was younger though, we had a season’s pass to the aquarium for awhile. Since the visits were “free”, some days we would just escape to the aquarium and hang out at our favorite tank.
- Long walks. We’ve done this in our neighborhood, but of course my favorites are always on a beach. This activity is best for long talks.
- Short service projects. I will never forget the day we had to color white jazz shoes red for another child’s school performance (long story!). Sitting at a picnic table chatting while each of us colored a shoe gave us time to talk and when we were finished, we had also worked together to help someone.
- Yard work or house work. Okay, I admit this one is a bit of a fantasy for many of us, but surely there is some child out there who would love to help you plant your acre garden or stain your deck. If nothing else, you can whine together for a few hours!
- Trying a new craft together. My daughter and I are generally pretty crafty people, but we both roll our eyes when anyone mentions origami. Our attempts at mastering it have been sadly hysterical. Even your “failures” can create bonding moments.
- Cooking together. This one is a standard for many moms for good reason. It’s fun. There’s lots of talking and the results are fun to devour.
- Putting together furniture or painting a room. As my daughter got older, this was a great activity to do together. She learned some useful skills. I got help with a large project and we both got to be proud of the results of our hard work.
- Mother/daughter trips. Some were day trips. Sometimes we would spend part of the vacation together and then turn the remainder of the time into a family vacation. Or just the two of us would go visit a relative together. Our latest was just this summer moving her to and from her university in CA to her summer internship in TX.
- Museums and local attractions. Often we don’t think about local things, because we figure we will get there eventually. I live in a major city and it’s amazing to me how many teens I talk to who have never been to the vast majority of the things you can do in our city. Pick one you and your daughter would enjoy more than the rest of the family to start and make it a “guilty pleasure” outing.
- Go to plays, concerts or ballets together. At times there is something cultural only you and your daughter will enjoy. Why spend extra money to make the rest of the family suffer? One of our favorites was on a trip to NYC. My husband went to the Mets game with a friend, while my daughter and I went to the ballet together. We still talk about that night from time to time. (It was an interesting evening!)
- Binge watch a show together. Normally I’m not a fan of lots of screen time. This is great though to do with teen and college aged daughters on breaks from school. They don’t feel up to doing much those first few days because they are so exhausted. If you can find a show you both enjoy, your conversations can ebb and flow and she can even nap a bit here and there as you watch a few hours of tv together.
Honestly, what you do isn’t as important as spending time together trying something you think you both might like. It doesn’t matter what you may have heard. A huge part of having a great relationship with your kids isn’t quality OR quantity time. It’s quality AND quantity time.