Each year your child gets older it seems that the time you spend together gets less and less. Half-day preschool three days a week becomes 5 day-a-week kindergarten. Then, all of a sudden they are off to summer camp and in a blink of an eye they are in college. In college, they still have scheduled breaks, but then boom, they are off to the real world. Bound by allowed days off, significant others, and the desire to travel, all of a sudden the time to see you has become smaller and smaller. So, what are some tips to entice adult children to visit more often?
The trick is to get them to want to come home or to where you are. At this stage in their lives, vacation days are limited and obligations and wants are greater. So, we have to be creative to make the environment irresistable. Here are the top ways I’ve found to get my kids to want to be where my husband and I are during their limited time off.
How to Entice Adult Children to Visit More Often
Make it easy
There are many ways to make coming home easy, but for this let’s think about what can make it hard.
Offer to help out financially…For many kids, particularly those just starting out, times can be financially straining. Offer to buy their ticket, pay for their gas, or book a rental car.
Help take away the stress of getting away…Take the stress away by simply booking the tickets or send them back with their meal prep for the week, both reduce what they need to worry about.
If moving, choose your location carefully…We decided we needed to be 30 minutes from an airport and on the East Coast. We knew that location would work better.
Design visits with lots of down time…We have designed our visits whether at home or at a vacation location with lots of down time. They need to rest and recover from their busy lives. We find they like to just be and that is all good with us!
Don’t force or complain about not seeing them…Finally, we make it easy is by not forcing it and not complaining about not seeing them enough. We do not want to guilt them into coming. They need to want to be there.
Set your home up as a vacation spot
When we moved to our new home we had a few requirements and all but one was about the kids. We wanted to be on open moving water. Well, truth is that too is about the kids. We wanted the kids to find value more than being with us. We wanted them to come and enjoy.
We are on a river, so we bought a bunch of kayaks, a sunfish, a catamaran, bikes, built a fire pit and the house is made for hanging out. They are not sleeping in our office that we converted from their room, they are sleeping in a comfy bedroom. And we make sure the food is always what they love, new things and we have their favorite wine, beers and drinks on hand, including apple juice, because you are never too old for apple juice.
Invite their friends
As young adults, they enjoy getting away with friends, too. We are sure to let them know that not only are they welcome home anytime as well as their significant other, but they can bring their friends. Recently, our daughter and her friends decided to come to us rather than rent a house in the Hamptons. They had plans to do apple picking, go to the beach to see the ponies, and more. They did none of it, but stayed home the whole long weekend.
We planned a fun menu for the weekend and we spent time with them, but also let them have time as a group without us. For them, it was a great getaway and we enjoyed everyone! We gave them space to do their own thing and they were often asking us to join in, which we did 50% of the time. We did ask for little things like help setting tables, cleaning dishes, and what not, but not once did we have to ask. They even offered to cook a meal.
Make home relaxing and comfy
No matter how big or home small your home or where you are, it should always be relaxing and comfy. A lot of relaxing and comfy is a state of mind. And that mindset starts with you. We, as parents, get so stressed that we make the entire visit stressful. Prepare yourself ahead of time and be relaxed. Let go of control and just enjoy. Take the time to know that the important thing is just being together.
If you have downsized, no big deal…just create spaces that are homey and be sure you find a way to allow the kids to relax. Be sure they have downtime and that you do not plan every minute. Their lives are busy, so when they are home, they want to just be.
Plan trips to cool places
This is one of our favorite things to do. It does not need to be tropical locations with all the bells and whistles, but just cool places that they love or they have never been. Before we moved to the farm and the kids always want to come here, we planned a trip for each December. Over the years the kids have come solo and with their significant others. We plan the trip, pick the location and usually stay 10-14 days. The kids then work in their time there around work and commitments.
Often it seems like a revolving door, but we make sure we always have a few days at least all together. Last year our trip was to Belize. On our way there, we first stopped in New York City and spent time eating, shopping and relaxing. We were able to then travel with our daughter and boyfriend to Belize. It was nice spending the extra time with them. Our son was able to spend a few days in NYC with us and then joined us the last week in Belize.
While away, we plan very little. We give the kids options and offer time with and without us. The only thing we ask is that we all meet up for dinner. Most of the time, besides fly fishing, we spend the majority of the time together.
And here is a bonus! Make yourself available to go to them. Stay near by so when they have free time you can be together. Help out with little things to open up their time to be able to sit and be with you.
How often do you see your adult children?
I am a home cook that does things my way. In my kitchen, I make breakfast, pack lunches, prepare snacks, and cook dinner. During the week, we eat real food that is homemade, organic, and local. On the weekends we do explore more of our local restaurants. I bake my own bread, juice fresh oranges every other day, and make my own kombucha and other weekly favorites.