Today is the last day of school and my teenagers are seriously looking forward to summer vacation. They work hard during the school year with many gifted classes and extracurricular activities so when summer rolls around, all they want to do is turn into vegetables that are plugged into electronic devices. I am all for a little down time over the summer but I seriously worry that my teenagers will grow roots if I don’t come up with a plan! I am pretty sure that if left to their own devices, they would not leave the couch unless they had to eat or pee!
So, over the last few weeks I have been trying to come up with some things for my teenagers to do other than scroll through Instagram or get lost in Minecraft games. I have warned both of them that there will be serious restrictions placed on all electronic devices. That decree was met with a series of moans, groans and dramatic hysteria (that from the girl child). I am apparently a horribly MEAN mom who’s goal it is to completely ruin my teenagers lives. Yup, that’s me…I deserve an award, right? I thought I would put together a list of things I would like them to do (in an ideal world) and share it with you. If your teenagers are anything like mine, they will be downright thrilled to put down their iPads and Kindles and find something else to do. Maybe you, too, can earn the Mean Mom award this summer!
How to Keep Your Teenagers Busy this Summer
1. Help with Chores: I told both of my teenagers that I am NOT the maid of this house, nor will I be the only one taking care of it this summer. Each kid will get a list of chores for the week and will be expected to complete them or mommy will remove electronic devices from their person for a significant length of time. I am printing out this chore chart for teenagers and will put together a list every weekend with a ‘due date’ for each chore. I expect to have a lot more free time this summer, what with all the free labor I have sitting on their butts at home!
2. Do Something Creative: In general, my children have always been fairly creative and have shown a love of music, writing, and arts and crafts. This has dwindled some as they have gotten older and video games and friends start to be more fun than beads and glitter. I have been wracking my brain for creative outlets for my teenagers that are age appropriate. They both play musical instruments and will be expected to play daily but here are a few other suggestions:
- Wattpad: A free website and app for readers and writers. Wattpad helps encourage creative writing but be warned, I have found a few inappropriate things on there so keep your eye on what they are reading.
- StoryBox Novel Writing Software: I downloaded a free version of this software so that I could write a novel and make millions of dollars. I have yet to find time to actually START my million dollar book. StoryBox is better for writers than a Word Processing program because it has things laid out to allow for character development, timelines, back stories, and you can easily navigate from one thing to another.
- Start a blog: My daughter started putting together a blog on Blogger which is totally free and will hopefully inspire her to do something creative and blog about it! The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, huh?
- Arts and Crafts: I found a great Pinterest board all about arts and crafts for teenagers and it has some truly beautiful ideas. Hopefully I can rekindle their love of crafts if I can find something age appropriate to make.
3. Volunteer: It is always nice to teach teenagers important lessons while also getting them up off their butts and moving. I hope to spend some time this summer volunteering at my local CSA with my teenagers. You can check your local hospital or library and see if volunteer options for teenagers are available in your area.
4. Learn something: I hate the idea of my teenagers brains turning the mush over the summer. When they were younger we did ‘schoolwork’ for an hour a day…math sheets, reading comprehension, etc. As they have gotten older, that has become extremely unpopular! And, honestly, I get it. They work hard all year at academics and don’t want to LEARN over summer vacation. So, I have been looking for things they could learn that aren’t actually academic. I decided to create each kid an account on Scratch to help them learn computer programing. It is a little on the young side but seems like fun. Basically, you build computer code to help make cartoons come to life. Hopefully they will learn something and have fun doing it. Depending on your teenagers likes and dislikes, you may be able to find fun ways to keep them busy that will also teach them something without them even realizing they are learning! Even if all they do are word puzzles and use the Dictionary word of the day feature at least they are using their brains for something!
5. Read a book: My son is a book worm so this will be easy for him but the girl child is really not quite as interested in reading. I told her that she would be reading an hour a day and I am happy to take her to the library or book store to find things she likes. I will also throw a few ‘required readings’ into our summer program just so their brains aren’t filled completely with wizards, boyfriends, talking hamsters and whatever other nonsense is popular in teen books. My general rule of thumb it “For every book of MINE you read, I will buy you one YOU want at the store”. Bribery is a very effective method of parenting.
6. Get some exercise and/or remind yourself what sun looks like: I told my teenagers that I didn’t care if all they did was wander aimless through the neighborhood but they were going to go outside every day and do SOMETHING. Swim, play a sport, go for a run, or just grab a friend and go for a walk. I would like them to get outside daily for some sort of physical activity. I may have to chase them with a wooden spoon but darn it they are going to hustle!
Now, don’t get me wrong…I guarantee my teenagers will be plugged into their electronics way too much this summer. But, with a handy list of things for them to do and an effort on my part to provide alternatives to keep them busy, I am hoping I can keep the ‘plugged in’ time down to a few hours a day instead of 8 to 10 hours a day.