13 Ways I Sneak in Quality Time with My Son

Sometimes, the most precious quality time comes in those everyday unplanned moments

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 13 Ways I Sneak in Quality Time with My Son

Written by: Morgan Hill

Rarely does the opportunity to spend quality time with my teen just present itself. Between hearing, “OMG mom, you’re soooooooo embarrassing,” to just dealing with the busyness of our lives, I take what I can get- seizing moments with my boy where and when I can.

The older he’s gotten, the more I’ve realized that he’s not always willing to give up his precious free time easily. But I’ve also realized that if I don’t grab as many quality moments with him as I can, not only am I going to regret it, I’m going to miss out on memories while he’s living at home.

That’s why I sneak in quality time with my son as often as I can. Sometimes, it’s planned, but more often than not, I just grab everyday moments as they come. Here’s how I sneak in quality time with my son. (By the way, any of these ideas would work great to connect with daughters, too!)

13 Ways I Sneak in Quality Time with My Son


1. Driving To and From School

Before school, we get to talk a little (although sometimes, I just get grunts) and when I pick him up, he shares bits and pieces of his day. The cool part is, I get a glimpse into his life through casual conversation and he doesn’t even realize we’re bonding.

2. Video Games

Although I would be happy to never watch my son play the NBA2K video game ever again as long as I live, it’s time together he values. So, you better believe I suck it up, watch and try to give (somewhat) intelligent commentary. Would I rather take him to lunch or go on a hike? You bet! But to me, it doesn’t matter what we do or even what we talk about… we’re together.

3. The Long and Winding Road

We both love the “Long and Winding Road” (by the Beatles) so, of course, we roll the windows down, let the wind in our hair and just enjoy each other’s company. He begs me to keep driving and even though we might listen without saying a word, it’s still time together and I treasure it. (I push the thoughts of gas prices out of my head and just keep going because my boy is worth it.)

4. Shopping for Clothes (and Other Stuff)

A fashionista since his toddler years, he loves to go to the mall and shop for clothes and other stuff. He asks my opinion on his clothes every morning. “Rate my ‘fit” is a daily routine he started where I get to weigh in on what he’s wearing and how he looks. I don’t really know what I’m talking about, but he doesn’t seem to care. 

5. YouTube

Nobody loves a good prank video like my kid. While not my cup of tea, I’ll sit there and watch along with him if it means grabbing a few minutes together. We rate the prank, execution and the YouTubers performing them. Then, we talk about whether they were funny or not. Silly, I know… but it’s quality time together.

6. Our Pets

As the owner of several pets (more than I care to mention), just hanging out and playing them with my son always equates to quality time – for all of us. Whether we go on a walk, train them (well, sorta) or just hang out with them on the couch, it’s a great way for my son and me to connect without him even realizing we’re bonding. Sneaky, huh? 

7. Carpooling

Nothing says “goofy fun” like a car full of teenagers. My son always pulls me into a ridiculous conversation to make his friends laugh and I get to be the life of the party which always cracks me up. Sure, it’s not always convenient to be the designated driver, but if driving my teen (and all his friends) means more time with him, I’ll always say “yes.”

8. TikToks

My son spends an awful lot of time scrolling through TikTok videos. Sometimes, he’ll plop on my bed at 10:30 at night, “Mom… you just gotta see this video! It’s so funny!” or he’ll hop in the car after school, “OMG, mom! This video is going viral – you’re gonna love it!” I love that he’s sharing with me and honestly, I think he loves knowing I’m always going to (try to) stop what I’m doing so I can watch those silly videos with him.

9. Inviting His Friends Over

You wouldn’t think that my son having friends over would be a way to sneak in quality time with him, but he almost never fails to invite me to hang out with them for a bit. (He has no idea what that means to me!) I don’t stick around long – just long enough to talk about what’s going on in school, with their sports, etc., and oh… ask them if they want something to eat or drink. (They always say yes, of course.) Being invited into his world, even if it is for just a few minutes, let’s me see a side of my son I don’t usually get to see and the added perk is, I get to know his friends better!

10. Texting

My son doesn’t talk to me as often as I’d like, but we do text quite a bit. Sometimes, it’s after school when he’s heading to his job or extracurriculars and (whoops) sometimes, during the school day. Sometimes, we even send each other silly memes or gifs when he’s in one room of the house and I’m in another. It’s not face-to-face, but hey, I’ll take him any way I can get him! 

11. Music

My son digs a great rap song and I’m far more an 80s mom, but still, we have fun cranking up the music. I secretly think he’s starting to appreciate my “golden oldies” and I’m slowly coming around to his kind of music. In between the “OMG, how can you listen to this?” and “This is SO bad… turn it off,” we have a lot of fun teasing each other and laughing.

12. On His Terms

It’s always when I’m absolutely dog-tired that my son musters up the energy to talk. Late at night when I’m crawling into bed seems to be the norm these days. But no matter how distracted, busy or tired I am, I try to give him my attention because it’s on his terms and it makes him feel loved and special. Whether we talk about the latest gossip at school or the latest spur on the news, I always learn something about him and it brings us just a little closer.

13. Spoiling Him

Sometimes, the smallest gesture can lead to quality time. Stopping at 7-11 for an unannounced Slurpee, picking up his favorite bagels on a Sunday morning or surprising him by doing a load of his laundry. I try to let him know in lots of little ways that I love him and it always somehow leads to a sweet thank you and a conversation that fills my heart to the brim. 

About Morgan Hill:

Morgan Hill is an essayist and humorist. She has written for many online and print publications including Insider, Your Teen Magazine, Revel, and MASK Magazine. She is the mother of freshman and senior sons in high school. When not writing, she can be found at flea markets, in her garden, photographing architecture, taking cooking classes or eating the stinkiest cheese she can find. You can also find her on Twitter @MorganHWrites or Instagram @MorganHillWriter

If you enjoyed reading, “13 Ways I Sneak in Quality Time with My Son,” check out these other posts!

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