Stay awhile, won’t you?
The trouble with understanding “awhile” vs. “a while” is that their meanings are so gosh darn close that it’s easy to get it wrong. I hate explaining my writing tips by arguing purely about parts of speech, but that’s largely what’s at play here.
“Awhile” is an adverb meaning “for a short time” (e.g., they relaxed awhile by the water then made dinner).
“A while” is an article plus a noun referring to a length of time (e.g. It’s been a while since they visited the lake house).
If you’re stuck with which one to use, think about whether you could swap it out for another adverb (e.g., they relaxed happily/dramatically/ ridiculously by the water). If that doesn’t make sense, think about whether you could swap it out for another duration of time (e.g., it’s been a decade / a day / a year since they visited).
This adverb-noun conundrum baffles time and time again. But I have faith you can get it right. Understanding may take a while, but you’ll get there.