It seems to me when it comes to keeping teens constructively busy over the summer, there are a couple of categories of teens between which we’ve got to distinguish.
Your teen drivers.
And your non-driving teens.
Because the first group has its own challenges.
Which are different than the second group’s.
Let’s deal in this post with the non-driving group.
We need to begin with a mantra.
Are you ready?
We need to commit this to memory.
Here it is:
Anything I commit to, sign-up, plan, enroll, register my pre-driving kids in becomes my transportation duty. All summer long.
Repeat it one more time and then we’ll move on to some ideas for keeping pre-driving teens busy this summer, shall we?
The chickens come home to roost during the languid, hot days of summer. And left unattended, they can make a holy mess of the family coop. Crust bones of cheap frozen pizza. Couch decorative pillows crushed and scattered. Cups with chocolate milk scum at the bottom. Video game sessions that are the stuff of the entitled gamer’s dream world.
So how do we influence our pre-driving teens for good?
1. Consider who/what right within walking distance of your home could benefit from help from your teen. Rather than an unearned allowance, what if you put some dollars to good? Is there someone in your community who could benefit from some weed pulling? Help touch up paint trim? Walk the dog? And what if you incentivized your teen to go find those opportunities? What if you paid them a set rate for community service? Sometimes discovering who’s in your neighborhood and how you can serve them says more about community and relationship investment than just about anything else.
2. Take your teen to work day. For your non-driving teen, even if they’re on the young side of the teen range, consider having them join you or your spouse’s work environment as an intern one day a week. I’ve found it to be a powerful thing for my kids to get to observe and help with various projects in my work world; they come away with a greater appreciation for the details, the time commitment of the work flow, and they are able to observe in-office communication and relationships, all items that will serve them well in their first jobs and beyond.
3. Get that chore chart printed and laminated. Look, handled well, you’ve got a built-in staff at your disposal for the summer. Make it count. I’ve got a couple of kids who are skilled at organizing closets and cabinets, and even though they do it differently than I do, it’s an amazing feeling to turn them loose on a project and see the results. Anything from yard work to clutter removal to organizing projects can be fulfilling for your teen as well as you. And don’t forget about basic household maintenance. I’ve seen parents who have brilliantly made WiFi access contingent on chore completion. It could also work for the password to Netflix or any other online service your family has.
4. Explore a day camp experience that is off the beaten path. Search out something that is completely different from the typical extracurricular offerings. What about a chess camp? Or a video/audio training? Or cake decorating? Or computer coding? Summer is a great time to explore shorter extracurricular lanes. And typically, with your teens being out of the elementary school range, these offerings last further into the day than they do for younger kids.
The young teen years during the summer can be a bit of a challenge; they’re too old for needing a dedicated babysitter, they’re too young for the summer job that requires them to be driving. But with a bit of ingenuity and some out-of-the-box thinking, it can be a fulfilling and expanding season.
And remember…spending all summer driving kids all over your metro area isn’t fun. So keep it close to home, keep it in the office, make those extracurricular commitments count.
With the occasional snow cone stand drive by. ‘Cuz…summer.