Yippee. School's out. I have always been one of those mothers who prefers the unstructured nature of summer over the frenetic pace of the school year. That is, until my kids became tweens. Never is the term tween more apt than in the summer time. They often have outgrown their summer camps but they are too young for jobs. Our kids are so in between, that sometimes they just don't know what to do with themselves. Seems that their fall back is anything technology-based. Which is why my recent quest has been to come up with activity alternatives to Facebook and X-box. Since I know I am not the only mean mom who limits screen time, I thought I would share my plan with you. I am hoping that people will add to these ideas and together we'll come up with an awesome summer bucket list for our middle school and high school "kids."
The limited technology plan starts with having teens and tweens make their own list of what they'd like to do this summer. If they are invested or if it is their idea, they are more likely to follow through - the story of our lives, right? Suggest that your kids to break their list out by:
- stuff to do with friends (that doesn't involve mom or dad driving)
- stuff to do with friends (where parents need to be involved)
- activities & events to do with family
- things to do on your own or "things to do when I am bored."
This exercise will mean never having to hear, "Mom, I am bored." My dad always said that admitting to boredom was admitting lack of intelligence and creativity! Can't have that.
Once they have come up with their list, offer a few suggestions, based on personality and interests. Here's a list that I came up with for suggested summer boredom busters:
- Volunteer in the community. Volunteer Match is a great way to find opportunities that range from a one-time event to a weekly gig. The benefits of this experience goes without saying.
- Get outside. In my estimation, there are no excuses not to get outside. The possibilities are endless: bicycling, reading a book on a blanket, playing laser tag in the woods, fishing, gardening, geo-caching,... just to name a few.
- Start a business. I am hoping my kids will latch on this idea so they can fund their social lives. One idea is to run a mini backyard camp for kids in the neighborhood. I also found a good site that gives kids advice on how to start their own business.
- Get creative. OK, don't use the word 'crafts' but inspire your kids to channel their inner artist, engineer, or chef. One of my favorite websites, Instructables.com, has endless fodder for creativity. For budding writers and artists, summer is a great time to work towards getting published.
- Get active. For the kids that start their own business there's paint balling, mini golf, and water parks. For the rest of the gang, there are plenty of ideas that cost little or no money: organize a tournament (volleyball, whiffle ball, dodge ball, etc.), get friends together for beach Olympics. Or, for the planning-challenged, start jogging and chart your personal bests.
I also thought this list of 101 fun things for teens to do this summer had some great suggestions. But please, make no mistake: I am not advocating an over-scheduled, over-structured summer. I think that everyone from tots to adults need downtime ... I am just trying to have my kids come up with some unplugged options for summer!
OK, let's hear it: what can you add to my teen and tween summer fun list?