Drama-Free Day #1: Bliss Out at Home
Let's: Have a Spa Day
Recreating the chill-out vibe, salon treatment, and wholesome attitude of a spa will give you and your daughter a chance to focus on serenity, beauty, health - and each other. Everything about it is likely to appeal to her, from the mani-pedi element to the decadent relaxing and elegantly healthful lunch. But if she's hesitant, reassure her that you're not looking for her to pumice your heels or anything--this is just a chance for a little me time (but, you know, in the us sense).
Begin by picking a recipe for a DIY spa treatment: a simple Internet search for "spa recipes for girls" will deliver plenty of choices to your screen, from scrubs and masks to bath salts and lip balms - and many are based on simple ingredients you already have, such as brown sugar, vegetable oil, oatmeal, avocado, and salt. And think about a lunch recipe while you're at it: a giant salad, with loads of crunchy, fresh vegetables, a zingy dressing, and some health-boosting toasted nuts might really hit the spot - or check out a lusciously healthful spa-cuisine cookbook, such as Canyon Ranch's "Nourish." Make a shopping list, then head on a quick supply-gathering mission for food, drink, missing ingredients for your treatment recipe, a scented candle or two, and a great new polish color for any planned finger- or toe-nail painting. Now fill a glass pitcher with ice water and lemon and cuke slices, turn on some soothing new-age-style music (Pandora makes this easy), light one of the candles, turn off your phones, send everyone else out of the house, and prepare to relax.
Consider breaking the day up into treatment sessions (a facial mask or scrub, mani/pedi, turns at candlelit tub-soaking) and healthful activity: a brisk walk, a stretching routine, or an exercise DVD could fit the bill perfectly--or, if your budget allows, you can research a local yoga or dance class for the two of you to take together. Break for lunch (that delicious salad and an icy glass of fruit-scented seltzer) and snacks (fresh fruit, a handful of nuts, yogurt-based smoothies, plenty of water) as you like. Read junky or enlightening magazines as your toenail polish or clay masks set up (add these to your shopping list). Remember that it's your day, so you can lean more towards decadent beauty treatments or Zen-inspired health and cleansing as you prefer.
One of the nice side effects of an at-home spa day--even beyond the bonding time and the relaxation--is that a focus on self-care can linger in a lovely way. Remind your daughter of the parts she liked the best (the sunset neighborhood walk, the deliciously wholesome food, the serenity of turning off your phones) and see if she'd like to make a habit of it. A weekly after-dinner walk or afternoon chai or mom-daughter lunch could be just the mini-dose of rejuvenation you both need--plus, you'll be helping her cultivate healthy habits to have for lifetime.
Drama-Free Day #2: Redo and Reconnect
LET'S: Give Your Room a Makeover
Offer to help your daughter redo her bedroom, and any typical ho-hum underwhelmedness (a day with mom) is likely to be overshadowed by enthusiasm (a room makeover!). Plus, helping her sort, organize, and decorate her bedroom offers you an opportunity to really see your daughter: who she is, how she's changed, what she likes and doesn't like.
Maybe it's time to bid a fond farewell to the ruffled pink bedding and matching duvet. Maybe she needs storage for her make-up, a place to display her best schoolwork, a bulletin board for pictures of her friends. Maybe she wants to replace that poster of a rainbow unicorn with a wall decal of a chandelier. You're there for her. And we're not encouraging you to pry (never!) but you might even get little glimpses into parts of her life you didn't know about ("I need a place to store all these letters from Brian." Who?) A day in her company -- at her service, even -- is likely to do you both a world of good.
Begin with a holistic evaluation of the room: bring in a notebook and pen, and jot down notes as your daughter identifies changes she'd like to make and stuff she might need. Consider cheap-thrill fixes: a new coat of paint for an existing piece of furniture or the entire room; new bedding; baskets for storage; new wall art; hangers; a magnet strip or bulletin board. If you like, you can keep a separate list of the dream or big-ticket items, and evaluate these later: maybe she could get that new bed for her birthday, or you could see if the window shades she wants are going on sale at Target. Also make a note of problem areas where you'll want to tackle clutter or disorganization: closets, desks, bedside table, dressers. If someone else in the house is handy (cough *Dad* cough) see if you can enlist them to install shelves or add hooks to the back of a door.
Tackle the list, biggest projects to smallest projects, and begin with any errands you need to run to make them happen: to the hardware store for paint; to the Salvation Army to see if there's any cool furniture you can repurpose (alternately, and as your budget dictates, you can look on craigslist or at a department store); to Target for sheets or storage solutions. Look on etsy.com for wall decals that give you lots of bang for your buck -- and can be gone, instantly, the second you tire of them. If you're crafty, consider getting fabric paint and using freezer-paper stencils to decorate matching bedding, curtains, and even a lampshade.
When you get back home, turn on some music, pour yourselves tall glasses of a nice, fizzy drink, and get to work painting, moving, sorting, installing, discarding, and organizing. When you get to the culling phase, it's often helpful to bring in 3 large bags: one for trash, one for paper recycling, and one for giveaways. And, of course, you'll be reminding yourself that it's your daughter's room and you're there to listen, help, and offer advice when it's solicited. It's a room of course, and a chance to clean it up -- but it's also a chance to build trust and to remind your daughter that you're there.
When you're done, see if your daughter wants to invite the rest of the family in to see her room. Consider taking before and after photographs to commemorate the changes, and get out some old pictures of how her room used to be when she was little. Is it corny to wish for growing gains instead of growing pains? Maybe…but it's still an excellent thing to hope for.