Seasoned moms know for a fact that the typical day-to-day schedule leaves little time for heart-to-hearts. Balancing school, extracurricular activities, meals, homework and sleep, it's actually nothing short of a miracle for parents to see their kids for more than a few brief moments a day.
My own children are still practically toddlers, but I know from secondhand experience with my teenage nieces that kids grow up at the speed of your average hurricane. Since the opportunity for quality time seems to be few and far between these days, I try to make visits with my girls count with as much one-on-one time as possible.
There are tons of creative and fun ways to bond with your daughter if you're feeling a little disconnected from her, or if you just want to strengthen your existing bond. So, turn off your cell phones (unless watching her text is your idea of a good time), and keep reading for our five favorite mother-daughter bonding ideas.
Get the Royal Spa Treatment
Disney's managed to corner the market on little girls with all of those princess movies over the years. Even if your daughter is tween-aged and has outgrown her Cinderella dreams, she definitely wants to feel like a princess! Plan a girls-only spa day complete with facials, makeup application and the requisite mani-pedi combo. You can easily pull off this feat at home if a fancy-schmancy spa isn't in your budget. Or, visit the makeup counter at a department store so your daughter can experience a professional beauty treatment; surprise her by purchasing some age-appropriate cosmetics, like pressed powder and lip gloss.
At the end of your spa day, you'll both be feeling relaxed, refreshed and updated on each other's lives. Do yourselves a favor and cap it off by ordering out for dinner, or making Dad don an apron instead. You don't want to ruin your sparkling new manicure, do you?
Hit the Road
A vacay with Mom is the perfect opportunity to take all those trips that the men in your family wouldn't be caught dead on. You can keep it close to home by exploring the cultural offerings of your city, like the ballet, theater or even the opera. If you can swing it financially, a trip to one of the cultural and shopping meccas of the world, like New York City, is a rite of passage for girls.
Be the first to show your daughter the phenomenon that is Bloomingdale's, haggle for deals on merchandise in Chinatown or hit as many Broadway shows as possible. Chances are you'll both be bowled over by big-city offerings, making the trip both memorable and enjoyable.
If the big city isn't your style, consider taking a road trip to the beach or just picking a nearby destination at random. Taking yourself out of your work and home element will surely show your girl that you're more than just her personal chef and housekeeper. Plus, all that travel time will give you both ample opportunity to create plenty of memories.
Some of us have about as much artistic talent as a mosquito. But others are bursting with latent, undiscovered artistic prowess. Find out which category you and your daughter belong to by learning a craft together.
The hardest part will probably be picking your pleasure, since your many options include sewing, painting, pottery, quilting and floral arranging. Local craft stores and recreation centers typically offer inexpensive and fun classes for novice artists looking to channel their inner Da Vinci. Another alternative is to have mother or daughter serve as instructor at home. Perhaps your mother taught you to quilt years ago, and it's time for you to pass along the family tradition. Or, maybe your daughter has picked up some new painting techniques in her art class that she can teach you.
Whatever art form you choose to learn, make sure it's something you both think is valuable and fun. Be sure to keep your finished products to display proudly and pass down to future generations … or hide them in the back of your closet if you discover that you're not so artistically inclined.
Mix It Up
Maybe your mother wasn't a professional chef when you were growing up, but chances are that she turned out at least a few signature dishes that will always remind you of your childhood. It's a safe bet that your daughter feels the same way about some of your culinary concoctions.
Take advantage of a rainy weekend to teach your girl her way around the kitchen. From your mother's famous lasagna to your own much-requested apple crisp, let your daughter in on the family secrets, and she'll be able to whip up some dishes to soothe homesickness when she's moved out of the nest. Plus, being elbow-deep in cookie dough is the perfect time for you to share stories about your own mother, who your daughter may see just a few times a year.
As a special memento of your day in the kitchen together, pen your favorite family recipes in your own unique script, and note where each one originated.
Take Care of Others
By virtue of their trade, mothers are supposed to be caring and nurturing. Instill some of these attributes in your child throughout her life through any number of caring activities.
Young children can easily help care for a pet by brushing a furry friend, taking the dog for walks or even just feeding the goldfish on a daily basis. The tween and teenage years are the perfect time for mother-daughter teams to enrich the lives of those less fortunate by volunteering at a local food bank, soup kitchen, hospital or other charitable organization.
Of course, older daughters who once shunned their mothers during teenage years are practically guaranteed to come running for Mommy once their own babies are born. Although some of your techniques might be rusty or outdated by then, you'll surely have a ton of pertinent advice to pass down from years of in-the-trenches experience. Trust us, you'll want to be around when she expresses her gratitude for the many years of sleepless nights, financial quandaries and behavioral issues you're probably dealing with right now! They crawl as babies and then come crawling back as adults -- you may have to wait a decade before reaping the satisfaction, but better late than never, right?
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- Clarke, Erika. "Ten Mother-Daughter Vacations That Won't Drive You Apart." Frommer's. March 30, 2007. (Nov. 30, 2010).http://www.frommers.com/articles/4308.html
- "How Pets Build Family Bonds." Parents Magazine. March 2008. (Nov. 30, 2010).http://www.parents.com/parenting/pets/kids/pets-good-for-kids/?page=6
- Neighmond, Patti. "Support Group Strengthens Mother-Daughter Bond." NPR. Aug. 2, 2007. (Nov. 30, 2010).http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12421213
- Van Kampen, Karen. "Mother-Daughter Activity Guide." Kaboose. (Nov. 30, 2010).http://family-fun.kaboose.com/mother-daughter-activity-crafts.html