Tuesday, January 3, 2017

When Playdates Turn Into Pub Crawls - How to Stay Connected to Your Grown Children

The holidays are over, the decorations are put away, and my two grown children have now returned to their own homes. When they were small, holiday activities included playing with new toys, sledding down snowy hills, cutting paper snowflakes, and Christmas stories before bed.  Now with their respective ages at 24 and 30, my husband and I had to "up our game" to ensure that we made the most of our time together.

Before their arrival on Christmas Eve, my husband and I brainstormed a list of fun things to do with our kids so we could all enjoy each other and have fun together.   We posted the list prominently so all of us could add our own ideas to it.   Some of the ideas didn't quite work out as planned. There was the Christmas Eve drive through a local park to enjoy the "Greatest Light Show in the Midwest", which turned out to be a massive traffic jam with most of the light show coming from the red tail lights of other cars stuck in the same holiday hell.  We had added cross country skiing and snowshoeing to the list to provide outdoor exercise, fresh air, and beautiful, snowy Michigan scenery, but due to a pre-Christmas temperature spike, all the snow melted.

In spite of the early "fails" described above, we did manage to have fun together making memories, learning about each other, and having fun together.  Below are some of the things we enjoyed, and other ideas that may make the list for next year.

Escape the Room Challenge - We were locked into a room and had to work together as a team to find and decode clues that led us to solve a puzzle and escape from the room in under an hour.  Escape the Room challenges are appearing in many different cities, and have different themes, such as the game Clue, murder mysteries, and gameshows.  We had fun working together solving a few puzzles, but in the end, had to concede defeat.

Cooking - Each of us has a specialty dish that we like to cook, and holiday time is a great time for sharing our recipes.  Our son, Joe cooked up delicious meatballs in a sweet barbeque sauce, and fresh guacamole.  Daughter, Katie is a master of meringues, and made these delicious cookies in three different flavors.  I provided the Christmas cookies, and my husband "The Grillmaster" grilled lamb and shrimp. 

Work Out - We each have our own exercise routine which we shared with each other. Our kids worked out with us using our favorite hatha yoga routine, and introduced us to weight lifting and cardio kickboxing.

Local Bars - Our local bars in the Detroit area have a wealth of entertainment options including trivia nights, pool tables, darts, and music.  Some also host wine or beer tasting nights.  We enjoyed listening to local rock and blues bands, drinking craft cocktails, and challenging each other to several games of pool while sampling some Detroit brews.

Games -  We spent a few cozy evenings in by playing Scrabble, the Game of Knowledge, and euchre.

Here are some ideas that made the list but didn't fit into the schedule this year.  We'll keep them on deck for next Christmas.

Family History - Have a few photo albums sitting out on a table or watch home movies to relive memories of earlier years.  Purchase each child a collage style frame, and have them select photos to display in their own home.

Take a Class - Some grocery markets host cooking classes, or workshops on making a holiday centerpiece.  Furniture stores may host a seminar on home design. Many classes are free to the public.  Sign up to do something fun together.

Make Something Together - My husband recently got interested in making knives, so he taught our son how to design and create a knife of his own.  There are places where families can go to paint together or create a family sign for the home. Local yarn or bead shops may offer workshops on knitting or jewelry design, or a culinary school or cookware shop will provide instruction in  cooking. Craft stores have many supplies to create soaps, candles, shadowboxes, birdhouses, and much more.

Museums - Many museums, such as the Detroit Art Institute, host film series, art workshops, music and brunch.  Explore their offerings, or just visit and enjoy the art.  Asking insightful questions can help you learn more about your adult children.

As you can see, I've already started on my list for our next holiday reunion.  I hope these ideas help you enjoy your family time, too.

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