By Kelly Hines
I don’t know why my kids wouldn’t want to spend every waking moment with me – but something happened as soon as they hit the tween stage. They started wanting to hang out with their friends all the time! Lucky for me, I have a great list of stuff to do with my tweens and teens guaranteeing I maintain my ‘cool mom’ status. If you’re struggling on ways to connect with your older child, here’s a few ideas to get you started. Make sure to add your suggestions in the comments!
Watch YouTube – even when you don’t get it.
Play a Game – Mancala, Othello, Electronic Battleship, Curses, Telestrations, Headbanz, Apples to Apples, Pictionary, Jenga, Sorry, Operation, Trouble, Clue, Life, Quirkle, Quelf, Cranium, Parcheesi, Gloom, Forbidden Island, Settlers of Cataan, Cribbage, Farkle, Yahtzee, Trivial Pursuit, Checkers, UNO, Skip Bo, Suspend, Pie Face, and card games are some reader favorites!
Cook a Meal – my middle child would spend all day in the kitchen with me. As a solitary cooker, it’s sometimes difficult for me to give up control! But she loves it and is so proud when we’re done. Plus, she’s learning a life skill! Learning how to cut and cook and burn stuff is part of growing up!
My daughter laughs at me because I watch anything remotely scary with my eyes covered and ears plugged. The idea of being trapped – however innocuously – terrifies me! But escape rooms are a challenge, not some Saw-esque torture. Great to foster cooperation and teamwork, they pit your wits against a variety of mental and physical obstacles in a timed challenge. For tried and true escape rooms, check out:
One of the great things about teenagers is there are no physical limitations to what they can do! They meet the height requirements, and are confident enough in their abilities to take on physical challenges. There are myriad opportunities for hiking, biking, climbing, and more outdoor activities in the Triad and surrounding areas. Here are a few of the more unconventional ones:
U.S. National Whitewater Center Offers mountain-biking, running trails, climbing center, kayaking, canoeing, and whitewater rafting. An outdoor recreation and environmental education center.
Cliff Hangers Climbing Cliff Hangers hosts events in order to help our community meet new friends, learn new techniques, and fine tune their skills. From beginner to seasoned climber, kid to adult, Cliff Hangers has something for everyone.
Gnarwall Bouldering Gym The Triad’s newest climbing gym is suitable for kids (and adults) of all ages!
Level-Up Fitness Ever wanted to see how you’d match up with your favorite ninja warrior or beastmaster? Do you look at the warped wall on TV and think, meh – no big deal? Here’s your chance unleash your inner beast (and watch your kid beat your pants off!).
Triad Eco Adventures The Triad’s original Segway tour operator with downtown excursions, team-building, special events, group activities, and PaddleFit stand-up paddleboard lessons. E-bike rentals also available.
SkyWild At the Greensboro Science Center, SkyWild is a treetop ropes adventure course located high above the Animal Discovery Zoo.
Kersey Valley Zipline One of the largest ziplines in the world, with 14 lines and over 1.5 miles of cable, Kersey Valley also offers a challenging rope course. (see also Kersey Valley Escape Room and Laser Tag)
Greensboro Ice House Chill out after all that outside time with some ice skating.
YMCA There are few organizations that reach as many people, in as many different areas, as the YMCA. From sports to classes to age specific and family themed events, the Y offers so many ways to be with your child in a relaxed, judgment free, fun environment.
Rockin’ Jump With two locations in the Triad (Winston-Salem and Greensboro), Rockin’ Jump offers fun AND exercise. You can find a Slam Dunk Zone, an arcade, Lazer Frenzy (in Winston-Salem only), a Rock Climbing Wall, X Beam Jousting, Dodge Ball – and best of all – After Dark jumping on weekend nights!
Get your teen out from in front of a tiny screen and play WITH them. Here are some ways to bring their love of gaming into an activity you can do together.
Paintball Central A paintball ‘park’ nestled in the woods alongside a creek offers games for all skill levels and abilities.
Lazer-X Laser tag and arcade in Archdale.
Kersey Valley Laser Tag At the same location as the zip line and escape room, Kersey Valley offers an all day experience! (see also Kersey Valley Escape Room and Laser Tag)
Spare Time Over 40 lanes, arcade, laser tag, late night bowling and more – and plenty of food and beverages! Pretty much teen heaven!
The Pit Indoor go kart racing, arcade, laser tag, rock climbing wall, black light mini-golf, billiards and more make The Pit an all day excursion.
Camel City BBQ Factory Hot ‘que and cool games, from arcade style video games to air hockey and giant Jenga, Camel City is a fun stop in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem.
Reboot Arcade Bar Show your kids how YOU used to video in this old school arcade. Make sure you check the website or Facebook page for info on kid-friendly hours.
Boxcar Bar + Arcade This arcade and bar in downtown Greensboro is kid friendly before 9 p.m.
There are so many opportunities to enjoy live theater, music, movies, and museums in the Triad! Consider the usual suspects (Old Salem, Reynolda House, Triad Stage, Greensboro Symphony, etc), and maybe try something new, like:
International Civil Rights Center & Museum Located in the building which formerly housed Woolworth’s, and the site of one of the south’s most famous non-violent protests of the U.S. civil rights movement.
a/perture cinema Featuring foreign, indie, documentary and festival films. It’s downtown Winston-Salem location puts it in close proximity to dining and shopping, making a movie the centerpiece to a whole day of activities.
Elsewhere One of those hard to describe places, Elsewhere is an artist residency museum space interactive collaborative thingy. From picnics to ‘radical seders’ to travel trips to Cuba, it’s a space that’s sure to get your creative juices flowing and open up some great conversations.
Carolina History Haunts Ghost tours!
Take an Art Class at:
Or Create Your Own Masterpiece at:
Start a Book Club Summer reading programs for teens are scarce, but if you and your child love reading – why not start one of your own? Hold meetings poolside with lots of snacks, and invite some other parent/teen friends to join you.
If sports is your teen’s thing, there is no shortage here in the Triad. Summertime is made for baseball, and you can check out minor league teams in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point.
Looking for something a little less predictable? How about –
Bowman Gray Racing Saturday nights are made for short track racing in downtown Winston-Salem. Since 1949, Bowman Gray Stadium has been the definition of “unpredictable” excitement!
We are so fortunate to live in an area with easy access to hiking, biking, rivers, and lakes. Plan a day trip and check out:
Hanging Rock State Park Camping, picnic grounds, stocked lake for swimming and fishing, canoe rentals, hiking trails, paddling, mountain biking, and rock climbing.
Tanglewood Park Camping, picnic grounds, fishing, pool, paddleboats, hiking trails, mountain biking, golf, tennis, horseback riding.
BurMil Park Picnic grounds, fishing, aquatics, biking, hiking, golf, tennis. Bike rentals available.
Stone Mountain State Park The massive granite dome at Stone Mountain State Park keeps watch on park visitors enjoying nearly every type of outdoor activity – camping, hiking, climbing, fishing, picnicking, horseback riding and more. There are more than 18 miles of trails, matched by more than 20 miles of designated trout waters in this park that spreads below the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Virginia Creeper Trail The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 34.3-mile rail-to-recreation trail starting in Abingdon, Va., traveling through Damascus, Va. and ending just past Whitetop Station at the Virginia-North Carolina border. The trail offers horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking, and running opportunities, as well as camping sites.
Get to Work
My parents loved to involve me in manual labor to “build character.” As a teen, I thought they were just the worst, but now I know they were onto something! Come up with a summer project (or five). Wake your teenager up way too early, make them sweat, and then watch the pride and satisfaction they have when the job is done. Spread mulch, plant a garden, paint the house, clean the garage – the possibilities are endless. Work together to create a sense of teamwork, and make sure to lay on the praise. You might just find that you both get more than a clean garage out of the deal.
Read more blogs about TEENS and TWEENS here!
*Baseball image credit to Winston-Salem Dash