When you think about summer you might think of the hot summer sun, beaches, the lake, vacation, or snow cones (or ice cream)… mmm. But if you are a parent you think of unsupervised children for extended periods of time during their long summer break. You worry about what they could be getting into, who they could be seeing, or even where they are.
You can provide a way to gain back some of your sanity by introducing some of these ideas to your kids. Do it in a way that makes it their idea if you have to. Get them engaged in something other than the TV or Snapchat and Instagram. You have a very limited time with your kids, 18 years for most parents.
That’s only 936 weeks to take advantage of that time and embrace their curiosities and ideas without moaning an exhaustive, overly boring yawn every time they want to do something… for the hundredth time.
1. Get Them Interested in a Career
Encourage them to get a summer job. Not only does it keep them less involved with bad influences it also builds lasting character in them that they can carry into adulthood. Share with your kids the importance of financial responsibilities and security. Summer jobs don’t have to be monotonous and uninteresting either. Consider amusement parks and water parks, jobs at the zoo, or summer camps.
Some of these jobs come with the added benefit of being able to get into the park for free or discounted rates. Even being a golf caddy, sports ref, or barista can be an exciting job that builds on a current hobby. Consider the fact that these jobs are summer jobs and they do not have to be permanent so your teen can try different jobs every summer and see what works for them. There is no obligation to stay at the job as long as your teen is upfront about the intention of the job being a temporary summer position.
2. Help Them Get into Extracurricular Activities
Preferably ones that get them out of the house and out of their comfort zone. Pursuing an interest that presents some reservations because it is out of there norm may produce in them the ability to step away from peer pressure situations. While all their friends are pursuing something that is morally wrong, they will begin to flee from it because it no longer feels comfortable just because their peers are engaging in it.
Think of this as an opportunity to invest in their future by finding a hobby that sparks interest in them in a healthy way and literally buying into it.
If they become interested in woodworking maybe pay for them to get into a 4 to 6-week hands-on woodworking class. This has a dual purpose; they can pursue something they are actually attentive to and it keeps them preoccupied during those long summer breaks.
3. Taking Family Trips
Taking family trips is a fun exciting way to get the entire family involved in stepping away from life and taking a break to recharge. Even if you cannot afford to take some big family cruise somewhere consider the “stay-cation” not only is it good on your budget it allows you to explore your city or the ones surrounding it. This is a great opportunity to have them do the leg work for the trip; finding deals, researching the times and costs of the activities they want to do.
Remember that this is a family vacation and the events and activities should be pertinent to them.
Save the not-so-kid-friendly activities like watching the grass grow for another time (unless they are into it.) After all, you only have 18 short years (or less) with your kids. Find a supervisory balance during these trips. You want to allow your kids some freedom while maintaining your parental responsibilities. Give them some freedom to explore but do not lose sight of your intention to draw closer as a family.
4. Have Fun with Them
Lastly, do something fun with your kids. Not something you think is fun. Find that movie they love, that place they like to eat, the sweet kicks convention they have been begging to go to, or even the Taylor Swift concert and make it an event for them. Let them make the choice and plan the day.
Roll with it, whatever it is.
Get involved with their lives authentically and remember that you are there to guide them but also that you were a kid once too. You were probably into some really cheesy, boring stuff too. So, take the selfie and show interest in things they like even if you have no clue what dope, Gucci, and lit mean. Cool, good, and amazing respectively. But do it without being thirsty (trying to get attention) or throwing shade (giving dirty looks).
Ultimately, build a genuine connection with them and allow them to get into healthy activities and hobbies. If it seems mind-numbing and uninteresting to you consider that it could be much worse and in too many homes across the world it is. Take interest in their hopes and dreams specifically in 9th and 10th grade because their minds are exploding with new interests and curiosities. Keep them on track with what is good in life, so you do not have to bury them early because they jumped onboard with drug and alcohol abuse. Steer their choices by engaging in what they like so that they will be more willing to pursue them.