School holidays can be a nightmare for parents of teenagers. Teens are too old to be parked in childcare but they can’t always be trusted to make great decisions about how they spend their days. Boxset binge-watching and Xbox marathons are fine every now and then but for six whole weeks?! So prepare yourself for the school holidays with these great ideas for tempting teens off tech. (And they might even learn some non-digital skills while they’re at it…)
- Get them gym membership – lots of gyms do special offers for teenagers. While they’re getting fit, they could…
- Train for a sponsored event – a sponsored walk, run or cycle (or even a triathlon) in aid of their favourite charity. Train with a friend or as a family.
- Volunteer for a charity – if sport is not their thing then how about helping out in other ways (great for CVs and university applications)? 16/17-year-olds can apply for National Citizen Service (NCS) too.
- Big projects – whether it’s redecorating their bedrooms, building a tree house, making a film or renovating an old bike, getting engaged in a project is a great way to have fun and learn new skills. (NB: May require some use of YouTube and/or adult assistance depending on age/project.)
- Find them a job – not always easy but definitely worth a try. Lots of businesses need extra hands in the holidays and real workplace experience is invaluable preparation for the future. If a job can’t be found then….
- Start a business – how about selling off all the old Lego online? Or making homemade greetings cards? Or mowing lawns for the neighbours? Money is a great motivator to get teens out of bed. No business ideas? Then…
- Give them household chores (and pay them for them) – dog walking, cleaning, gardening, ironing etc. You may need to show them how to do it (and perhaps adjust your standards a little) but keeping the teen occupied and getting your washing done is a win-win.
- Leisure passes – if you are going to throw money at the problem then theme park membership is a great investment. Or how about a cinema gift card you can top up when needed?
- Summer camp – they might be too old for childcare but an adventure holiday in the company of other teenagers is a great way to outsource their supervision. Check out YHA Summer Camps for ideas.
- Day trips – when it comes to tempting teens off tech, you may need to take it day by day (especially if your particular darling is hard to engage and refuses to commit). How about white water rafting or indoor caving or mountain biking or high ropes…. check out these fun family activities for ideas. Or get away together for a tech-free family weekend.
Don’t forget, even the best ideas will go belly up if you don’t involve your teenager in planning and decision-making (as I found out in The Wrong Way to Plan Family Time with a Grumpy Teenager). Set a budget, get out the diary and sit down with your teenager for a family meeting. Set some ground rules for screen time but also factor in plenty of down time that they can use in whatever way they want (including on tech). The aim is to find a balance that fits everyone’s agenda. Happy planning!
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