Ah tweens. You gotta love ‘em. In between the little girl you once thought you knew and the fast approaching teenager you fear she is becoming. Maturing at an exponential rate and desperate to be older, as her mother you feel like life is on fast forward and the button is stuck. Do you know what I mean? Do you have a tween? No? Want mine? Just kidding. I love her. Most days. Wink wink.
How about traveling with your tween? Does the thought cause your eyes to roll? Remind you of someone? Oh just mine? She’s got it down, that sassy annoyed eye roll. And the perfect stomp off. Know that one too? Sigh. Breathe. Wine. Just kidding. Breathe. In. And out. And maybe wine. Especially if it’s French wine.
I am here to tell you that there is no better time to travel with your child than smack in the middle of tweendom. Truly. One on one. Just you and them. Go ahead. You can do it. And you should. Here’s why.
Tweens bodies are changing and attempts at distancing themselves from the family unit are underway. Peer interaction takes priority. Apps, chats, likes. Both face to face and online. With others. Not you. As much. How better to connect with this newly emerging young person than to travel? Explore somewhere with them. Just them. Give them the safety, connection and (tethered) independence they are craving.
I recently took my tween daughter to Paris for her tenth birthday. PARIS?! Oui! Paris. “But, I can’t afford to travel there!” I hear you saying. I know, I know – maybe easier said than done for everyone. I will admit that it was quite convenient for us that cheap mid-week flights from Copenhagen were easy to come by. But, it doesn’t have to be Paris. It can be an overnight in your own town. It can be a day trip to the beach or the mountain or a lakeside, or hiking or shopping. Or just lunch and a movie. Of their choice. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is the one on one time and letting her (or him) have input. Letting them choose. It validates them and connects you.
My daughter always wanted to go to Paris. Since she was 5 years old, she has wanted to see the Eiffel Tower. That could very well be because her Dad and I celebrated my 40th birthday there and the miniature tower souvenir she received upon our return has held a place of prominence in her bedroom ever since. And maybe (probably much more than maybe) her mother’s own Francophilia was not so surreptitiously embedded. So much so, that for a 100th day of school project in 1st grade – a visit to the Eiffel Tower made it to the top of her wish list of things to do before she turned 100. And because meeting Sporty Spice (one of the three other items on the list) was going to be a wee bit more challenging to accommodate, cheap tickets to Paris from our home in Copenhagen could definitely be achieved. Mom and dot trip was on.
Don’t think you could handle traveling abroad (or not abroad) with your potentially picky, increasingly hormonal, sometimes stubborn, but still infinitely curious tween? I am here to dissuade you. Or encourage you! It is an excellent time to travel with your child. They are still inquisitive and open, despite the increasingly pervasive eye rolls. And that intentional one on one time gives them the attention she/he needs and craves.
I am a firm believe in the idea of giving “times, not things.” Filling experience banks together. Creating conjoined memories that become part of your children. Make them who they are. Who they will grow up to be. And you. These experiences will become part of your relationship history. Together. I am grateful for the experiences that my parents prioritized and filled my reserves as a child.
Traveling with children gives them an opportunity to experience things outside their familiarity while still comfortably in a safe zone. With you. Let her navigate. Let her choose. Let her communicate. With outsiders. Don’t talk for her. With your support, she will see that it is easy to maneuver outside of her understanding. She will learn. You will too. To let go a bit. It’s ok. She will survive. You will too.
Have you traveled with your tween? Do you prioritize regularl one on one time with your kids? How do you do it? Where did you go? I would love to know. And IF taking your tween to Paris is a possibility for you – stay tuned for our tween endorsed travel tips for the City of Lights.
Cheers from Copenhagen! Erin