I am officially the mother of a teenager. This is crazy to me because there is no way on this green earth I am anywhere near old enough to have a teenager as my child!
But having a teenager is my reality. With this new reality comes the awareness just how quickly the years are skipping by. The thought of not having my son around soon (okay it’s 5 years away but WOW it seems to go really quickly) has prompted me to soak up these last few summers and make as many memories with him as possible. Of course he’s not dying to hang out with me, but he does still accompany me on errands, hang with me at the pool, and doesn’t always roll his eyes when I’m around him when he has friends over.
While having adventures and making memories with my kids is very important, I still want to be free of the go-go-go the school year brings. I am not an advocate of having my kids busy from the moment they wake up until they go to bed. I am all for a camp or two but I want them to play. I want them to explore. I want to have FAMILY time. We need it and they need it. (FYI, even teenagers can play)! Also, the reality is, I work and there are some 80+ days of summer to fill up. As much as I would love to fill every single day with a new memory making adventure, I know it isn’t realistic.
In our home, the first week or two of summer are pretty low key and completely unstructured. I don’t stress about the amount of time spent on TV, staying up late or sleeping 24 hours straight. After the rush of the school year, it is important my kids completely unwind from the busy year. A week (maybe two) is okay to do nothing. Their brains will not go to mush.
That being said, if I am not careful, the summer could quickly turn into an all-out video game marathon where my son only emerges for things like food and the occasional bathroom break or (if we’re lucky) a shower and my daughter sleeps in until 2:00PM. So, after the epic couple weeks of laziness have ended, and I’m tired of stepping over dirty underwear and soccer balls, I do implement some sort of structure/schedule. This usually begins with a family meeting where my husband and I set a time limit on video game playing and TV time (this goes for our nine year old daughter as well). My kids dread family meetings mainly because it means Dad and Mom want them to do something other than sleep, eat, or bathe. And they are usually correct.
Disclaimer : In order to go into battle against a teenager & a strong willed 9 year old girl, one must prepare. This requires a self-pep talk (where I convince myself I CAN forge the battle of eye rolling, sarcastic remarks and floor pounding) as well as hours of prayer, meditation, yoga, essential oils, and lots of those positive thought quotes I see all over Pinterest.
To be honest, this year’s meeting wasn’t met with much resistance. I honestly believe my kids like knowing what we expect from them and like to have some sort of structure. But just a little bit! This year we explained we only expect them to do three things each day. We call this The Daily 3. These are 3 fairly simple tasks we ask them to accomplish each day. These give our children responsibility, a break from the eye strain of electronics and also cultivate their creative juices. Do they accomplish them every day? No. But, we all try to make it a reality and so far so good.
The Daily 3
This isn’t a huge list but does require they put forth more effort than normal. Things like making their bed, cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming the living room, etc. Enough for an hour or two of work.
2) Limit Electronic Time
I know! This one is hard but it is essential. I have a two hour time limit. If they want to break it up, they can. If they want it all in the morning, they can. But two hours max. Most kids have phones and tablets which makes monitoring their time difficult. But there are some great parenting apps like Parent Kit & Teen Safe to help parents keep tabs on their kids.
3) Do One Thing Creative, Inspiring, Educational, Or Adventurous
They don’t have to do all of them each day, just one. They can do them alone or with friends. You may have to do a lot of convincing to get your child to think outside the box but it’s worth it. Some days my son just rolls his eyes at dinner and says things like “um….I kicked the soccer ball for an hour”. Cool. At least he was outside.
Along with The Daily 3, we also do a lot as a family and come up with a list of fun things we’d like to do together or as individuals. This helps our kids have a relaxed and creative summer with just enough structure to teach them how to be productive members of our family. It also helps us bond, have adventures and make summer memories we will never forget!