First, I have a confession. I was not proactive last summer and my teenagers ended up with a lot of down time. After living through that summer, I am determined not to have a repeat this summer.
My first task is changing how I present summer activities to them. Last summer I asked them what they wanted to do. The response I got was “hang out with friends, relax, have down time.” What that looked like on a daily basis was one teen binge watching That 70s Show on an iPhone (how do they watch TV on such a small damn screen?) That question is for another post.
And the other teen playing video games online with friends and the only physical movement was going from one couch to another depending on what games he was playing.
So my first step is not to ask, but instead TELL them certain things they will be doing. After all, I am still in charge… even if they are taller than me.
Up first, some good old fashioned volunteer work. And one of my favorite volunteer places has a week of camp for teenagers called Camp TABLE.
4.5 hours a day for one week, giving back to their community. Win/win, right?
I also have a call in to a local Railway Museum near us. One of my teens is really into antique trains, collects them, and has a freakishly good amount of knowledge about all things locomotive. How cool would it be if he could help out with guided tours to share all that knowledge with others?
The teen girl wants to babysit to earn money. She is only 14 but has her Red Cross Babysitter Certification. I am having her pitch her services more as a Parent Helper at first to get her foot in the door. She is also offering to pet sit in case folks feel more comfortable with her caring for the furry family members. I have posted her services on neighborhood Next Door listservs and school Facebook group.
The other mandatory part of summer will be some sort of physical exercise 3 times a week. It can be teen choice of activity, but moving that teenage body is good for the brain. The internet even agrees with me.
Other ideas that I am tossing around (or we have done in the past):
- Day trips one on one with each kiddo. Even though they act like they don’t need me anymore, I know deep down they do… at least a little, right?
- My chauffer services to hang out with their friends. I get that summer is supposed to be social and relaxing, and I don’t want to take that completely away from them.
- The obvious – family vacations. Our happy place is at the beach, and we try to take at least 2 trips each summer.
- Build a computer from scratch. My oldest did this 2 summers ago with only the parts and You Tube videos.
- Daily journaling and meditation.
I am also a big fan of chores and allowance. I create a list of tasks they can help with around the house and add a dollar value for each task. The teen girl is highly motivated by currency, so she will do just about any task I ask of her. Well, except moving the wood pile when I asked her to do that last summer (to make room for the new shared teenager car). Turns out a family of copperheads lived there. Yikes!
I have found that creating written contracts with your teenager can be a lifesaver and prevent you from becoming the summer nag at your house. I used to create contracts for students with behavior problems in my former professional life, so I am really good at creating contracts without loop holes that work against me. Thanks Duke ADHD Program!
So, there you have it. Some of my plans for the upcoming summer with teenagers. What are your plans?
Want to chat about parenting in the teenage years? Check out the Let’s Talk Parenting link and get in touch. I would love to talk with you!