Summer can be hard. Teenagers are used to having a strict school schedule and being told what to do and where to be all day long. Although they may complain about this schedule and the demands of it, they can be at a loss for what to do without it! Here are 5 ideas for you to suggest to your teen to keep them busy and occupied so you don’t hear the dreaded “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do!”
1. Work-I am a huge fan of teens working a part time job! Most of a teen’s life is spent with their peers. They are in school for 8 hours a day and then often spend time with friends after school or doing sports or clubs. And, they typically don’t want to spend a whole lot of time with parents. As a result, it can be easy to have a skewed sense of the world when the majority of your interactions are with other 14-18 year olds. That latest song or the latest episode of that popular show becomes the new “it” thing that they feel they have to know about or talk about, and they don’t get a sense of the bigger picture of life or the world. Working a part time job allows teens the chance to learn responsibly (such as when their shift starts or how to ask off for a vacation), independence (they have their own money now!), navigating interactions with customers and learning customer service, and interacting with coworkers and supervisors. Even if your teen is not interested in working at the local ice cream shop or retail store, he/she could mow lawns, walk dogs, or babysit for neighbors.
2. Volunteer- Maybe your teen loves animals or clothes, and they could volunteer some time this summer at the Humane League or a clothing bank. Volunteering gets teens out of house, and around other people who are giving back to the community. Especially if your teen is too young to work, this is a great option because it still teaches responsibility, independence, and how to navigate interactions with those outside of their peer group.
3. Summer camps-These can be a few days to a week long, and are often themed, so try to find something your teen is interested in. Or, instead of attending one, he/she could be a camp counselor for a camp of younger children.
4. Visit with family- This gives you a week (or even a long weekend) break and allows the teen one on one time with a relative. Even if grandpa lives a little too far away to see on a normal week, having your teen visit with him for a week over the summer can help to develop or deepen their relationship. Don’t all great memories start with “I remember that summer I spent at my aunt’s house…..”?!
5. Additional responsibility at home- Ask your teen to take on additional responsibility at home such as cooking dinner one day a week or doing their own laundry. Now, your teen probably won’t like this suggestion, so you might have to sell it a bit more! But, if he/she is home all day long, why can’t he/she help out a bit more at home?! With the goal of teaching responsibility and developing life skills, being in charge of cooking a meal every Monday can be fun. Rather than demanding they do a new chore, ask your teen what task he/she would be interested in doing to get their input so they feel heard and as if they are part of the conversation and decision.
These are just a few simple ideas to help keep your teen entertained a bit more this summer. Let us know if you have any other ideas that have worked for you in the past!