TweenI have a tween that is too cool for everything, and I’m starting to think that includes playing. These days it seems all he wants to do is lounge around or sit in front of a computer. Each day we have the same conversation. He’s capped at two hours per day on the computer, a recommendation from the pediatrician, and he needs to find something else to do. Then I recommend he play with real people rather than in a virtual world with people he doesn’t know. Then he rolls his eyes.

I mean I get it. We have a busy house. Three kids, two of whom are still young and very playful. They like to pretend, build, destroy, create. They do this all waking hours it seems. All things a 7- and 8-year-old should be doing. But even for me, it’s exhausting. The chatter, the “help me”, and the “look at me” and the “do this for me”. Every hour.

Escaping to a virtual world sometimes sounds like a good idea—even to me.

Nagging the tween was a part of my day I did not especially enjoy. It had gone on for the last few weeks of summer break and I was tired of sounding like a broken record. So I decided to come up with a different approach.

The new approach is actually a simple solution. Everyone deserves space, especially a (moody) tween. So I give him his space and have created a time for all of us to regroup together each day. Every day we have a family play activity. I let the kids decide what it is. Sometimes it’s riding a bike, other times it’s roller blading. If we’re really ambitious, we swim, go fishing, or go bowling.

Our activities are not complicated, as that would just be another task. It really can be as simple as kicking the soccer ball around in the backyard or tossing the Frisbee.

The point is that we spend time together, even if it is 15 minutes a day having fun. But also, we give the tween a chance to be with the family in a relaxed way. Our time together gives us all a reason to appreciate each other but also respects alone time, work schedules, etc.

We still have a two-hour limit on the computer for all of the kids, but the important thing is that as their mom, I have shared through not just words but also through actions that being active and having fun is not just a value I teach, but one that I also practice.

Even though my tween wants to spend more time alone these days, he doesn’t mind spending some time with us.

What are some of your challenges raising a tween?

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