Now that summer is here and the ramifications of Covid-19 are still in place, this can be an especially tough time for teens. But by making time for a few basics you can help your older child to make the most of their summer despite the difficulties.
Make time for Healthy Habits
It’s tempting for teens to stay up late and sleep away most of the day, but this isn’t healthy for either their physical or emotional health. Although you can be more flexible in the summertime, encourage your teen to go to bed and get up at a regular time each day.
Developing a work ethic may not always be popular with teens, but it’s important for them to take responsibility and contribute where they can. Assign them some regular chores, and, if possible, collaborate with them on establishing a reward system that is meaningful to them for completing their assignments.
Teens need time with friends. While it can sometimes seem that they spend too much time with their peers, it’s important, especially during social distancing, for teens to feel connected. If you’re in a position to do so, allow your child’s friends to come over for socially distant activities, and allow your teenager a reasonable amount of time to connect with their peers electronically.
It’s also important for teens to spend time with family. Plan meals they like and activities they enjoy to make family time more appealing to them, and set aside time to be with them one-on-one. Spending time together can strengthen your relationship and allow you to continue teaching your teenager important lessons and values as they prepare for adulthood.
Summer jobs may be hard to find, but they are out there, and are a great way for teens to keep busy and earn some money for spending or saving. Job searching can be intimidating, so let them know about places that are hiring, help them fill out the paperwork, and be supportive in encouraging them to find work.
Of course, no summer vacation is complete without time to play, relax, and have fun. Make sure that your teen is rewarded with leisure time to do things they enjoy so that summer feels like a vacation—even if it’s not quite the one they had in mind.
Teens exist in an emotional world that fluctuates between desiring autonomy but wanting to know they can fall back on you when needed. Be prepared to parent a teen with collaboration and respect in mind for these two distinct parts (autonomy and dependence).
Here are some creative things families can do to make this year’s summer vacation still feel like one.
- Break out the tent and sleeping bags and have a campout in the backyard (or the living room).
- Go stargazing. Be sure to pack a blanket and some hot chocolate. The days may be warmer, but the nights are still chilly.
- Find a drive-in movie. It may not be the theater—but it’s socially distant!
- Buy some sidewalk chalk and decorate your driveway or the sidewalk in front of your house.
- Pack a picnic lunch, a blanket, and a frisbee, and spend the afternoon at your local park.
- Make a homemade summertime treat like ice cream, lemonade, or popsicles.
- If the weather isn’t great or you don’t have a lot of outdoor space, make a pillow fort with cushions, pillows, and old sheets.
- Go for a bike ride, hike, or walk around the neighborhood. Bouncing on the trampoline or running through a sprinkler are also fun ways to stay active closer to home.
- Have a car wash party. How do you turn a car wash into a party? Think water fights with the hose, and maybe a cold treat afterwards.
Summer is a great time to just play and have fun with your kids. Relaxing, working, and playing together can strengthen your relationship with your children, and is a great way to create memories and stay healthy—mentally, emotionally, and physically.
As a parent you don’t have to be ‘on’ all the time. Give yourself meaningful breaks and just be sure to insert at least some intermittent fun into your child’s day.