After watching my husband take both of our boys on their big weekends away over the past few years (here and here), finally it was my turn! My eldest daughter and I have just arrived back from the best couple of days away together, and it was a time that I think we will both cherish forever.
The Weekend Away (or in our case, the 'mid-week' weekend away) is a tradition that our family has adopted from other awesome families we know, and a great idea from The Parenting Place. It's a time set aside for a parent and their tween to talk about the exciting and sometimes daunting things coming up ahead as teens, but also spend some one-on-one time together having fun, making memories, and creating a space for any questions.
The best resource we have found for this is The Big Weekend CD (via The Parenting Place). John Cowan (along with Jenny Hale) covers all the basics from 'the birds and the bees' to self-confidence, hygiene, peer pressure and adds a tonne of humour and stories along the way. The CD is just under 2 hours (we skipped the boy section) and was the perfect length for us to listen to while driving down to our destination (Whangarei to Auckland!) and leave a bit of room for questions.
Another awesome book I love is "The Body Book" which is part of the Lily Series. My daughter has loved this series over the years, and it covers so many good practical topics for girls (aimed for ages 7-11).
We began our journey with treats in the car and listened to The Big Weekend CD on our drive down (pausing to chat during some parts). After that, our first stop was New Zealand's first cat café, called The Cat Lounge! Apart from an awesome café (that is open to everyone) you can book some time with their many cats - take your coffee in, sit on the couch and hang with the gorgeous cats & kittens. We had heaps of fun getting to know the cats, reading their stories and playing with them.
After that we headed off into central Auckland to our hotel (I found a great deal online for this special treat). After we had settled in we explored Queen Street, did some shopping (hello donuts, bubble tea & macarons!) and watched a movie together (my girl is Star Wars obsessed, so we saw the latest movie for the second time).
The next day we did some more exploring, including a special surprise - my daughter got her ears pierced. She has been wanting to do this for a while, but was slightly nervous about the experience. We had talked about it being a birthday present later in the year, but I decided this special time away would be the perfect time to do it.
I'm so glad I took the time to have a weekend away with my girl, and would highly recommend it to all parents as a great way to make memories and get the discussion going regarding the special years ahead. I love that a time that can potentially be awkward (for both parties) has been turned into a memorable event that is looked forward to (my 8 year old is already begging me to take her away for her special weekend) and also remembered for years to come.
It doesn't have to be an expensive event - most of our fun was had while exploring Auckland and looking around.
I'd highly recommend a weekend away with your tween - feel free to email me if you have any questions!