It’s that time of year again. Kids and teens are being given another school break. In typical years most families would use this week to travel to fun destinations or day trips or even home projects.
However, given the world’s current practice of social distancing many families are out of home project ideas or just sick of them. Day trips and vacation destinations conflict with the idea of social distancing, leaving parents once again in a frustrated place. Spring, Summer, and Winter break 2021 much like 2020 is a time that parents once again will be forced to entertain their teens and kids at home for a week(s) or months depending on the break.
This is a challenge without a pandemic, entertaining teens and kids these days with a purpose of true engagement requires a circus act with your child/teen as the main star.
What do we do for school breaks at home? How do we create a staycation that is fun for the entire family?
If you are exhausted do not fret, you are not alone. Many of my friends as well as myself are feeling this way. I have scoured the internet, and though it’s not a Disney vacation I created a list of activities that you can have your teens and children participate in or do independently over school break at home. We will go over staycation ides for to engage your teens and kids.
To decide which activities are right for your teens or children try to include them in the decision. Maybe have them select one or two activities from each category and decide which days and times they will do each of them. This takes some of the responsibility off from you and helps your child further advance their planning skills.
If you have an unmotivated teenager that plans to sleep through School Break then know you are not alone. Sleeping is the answer most teens have for what to do with their lives. Of course, video games or social media is a close second. It is our job as parents to pick out activities that we know their interest lean towards and motivate them to participate.
Some parents of teens might be thinking yeah right, my teen is not going to move no matter what I say. A shout out to you parents with particularly stubborn teens. You are not alone, and no one ever said parenting was easy. Parenting teens is a give and take relationship that we constantly need to analyze and implement the practice to choose our battles.
Below are some helpful ideas to motivate teens to participate in healthy activities that engage them and help them grow as people. Please take into consideration that everyone is unique and these ideas should be tweaked to your teen’s personality. Also, think carefully about when the leverage you have to motivate your teen is delivered.
For most teens, if you deliver the motivation prior to them doing what you want, you can forget about it. Most teens will take what you give them and then do whatever they want, including not doing what they said they would, it is a fact of life. This may be different for some teens who need the motivation first and then will participate, just think about your teen and what will work best for them. Another scenario you might need to consider is to deliver on a reward prior to and post your teen participating in a healthy activity.
The overall message here is to know what works for your teen or what doesn’t work and try something new.
Some helpful ideas to MOTIVATE your teen include:
Their Favorite Meal
Order in their favorite meal or cook their favorite meal to reward them for a positive attitude participating in a chosen activity.
A Day of Rest
It’s not going to hurt anyone to lay in bed for a day, and if that’s what they want then why not give it to them for a day. Of course, this is after they participated in an activity with a positive attitude.
A New Purchase
Most teens have a giant wish list that they are always looking to check off. If they have a positive attitude and engage in a healthy activity why not reward them with one of the items on their wish list? Obviously doing this every time they participate in a healthy activity will build a rather skewed reward system. So I advise that this is only used on special occasions like when they participate in an activity outside of their comfort zone.
A Chore Free Day!
No one likes to do chores so why not make a deal to swap their chores for that day with a healthy activity? Obviously you will need to make sure it is a worthwhile switch so it might need to be more than one day of chores or an activity that is only an hour or two. Think carefully about how your teen will react and be willing to negotiate.
Their Favorite Snack or Drink
Most of the time at the grocery store we say no to all the fun delicious unhealthy snacks and drinks that our teens want. Use this as a bartering tactic to encourage healthy activities.
Bring Your Teen Where They Want to Go
For those teens without a license or car they are often desperate to go to a store or place that they want something from. Given the schedule of adults though, it is always a low priority to bring our teens to these places. If this is the case for your teens commit to bring them where they want to go for an hour or two after they participate in a healthy activity.
Let Your Teen Tell You What They Want
Ask your teen for 10 “REALISTIC” ideas of what would make the healthy activities worth their time. I capitalized realistic since we all know that the first 5 will probably still be out of our budgets or unhealthy choices.
At Home Activities
Cater a build challenge to your child or teen’s skill level and interest. It can be a Lego build, a simple machine build, a robot build, a shelf or desk. Below you can find some recommendations.
Lego has build ideas for different age groups: here is a link to ages 8+
The link connected to the words “Volunteer Work” provides a list of 35 ideas for your teen or kid to volunteer. This past year my teen worked on no sew fleece blankets for Project Linus. It was a wonderful way for us to be able to help our community from home, and a great screen free indoor activity to earn screen time with.
Start a Garden or Compost
Lots of options for this one. We took a tubberware storage bin we had and drilled some holes through the lid that our teen has used for the past year as a compost bin. There are flowers, leafy plants, herbs, or vegetables and you and your teen or child can choose between pot plants or a section of your yard.
Try a New Hobby
The link connected to the words “Try a New Hobby” provides a list of 50 hobby ideas and talks you through a process to select the hobby right for your children.
Family Game Night
Whether it’s board games, card games, or video games take a couple of hours to sit together as a family and be silly or let out some competitive energy.
Pack some snacks and water for everyone, and off you go for a day away from home. This can be a short or long hike, maybe one around a pond or one with a waterfall at the end. Just enjoy your time in nature with your teens and kids moving.
Fire Pit Night!
Hot dogs over the fire and marshmallows or your favorite fire pit dessert. You can add a little flare to the night with some glow sticks and music. There are also a lot of glow in the dark or light up toys that can add some fun to your night, maybe a light up frisbee.
Plan, Budget, and Make a Meal for the Family
Since they have the day off why not spend a couple of hours giving back to the family by making a meal for everyone to enjoy together.
iD Tech offers group courses or 1:1 tutoring. They have courses on coding, robotics, and mathematics.
Boys & Girls Clubs
Check out your local Boys & Girls Club for what they have to over. Most locations have the option of virtual and in-person activities.
Virtual Museum Visit
Louvre, Paris The Louvre has one tour entitled “Founding Myths: From Hercules to Darth Vader” that most teens will find engaging
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
British Museum, London England
From one parent to another, good luck and know that we are all in this together.
Enjoy your family fun packed staycation!