As your child gets older and more independent, the summer break takes on a whole different vibe. Your now-teenager has successfully navigated middle school, some of high school, and possibly even completed Drivers’ Ed (eek!) At this point, they’re likely pretty entrenched in their daily routine: getting to class, completing assignments, attending practice, and (hopefully) doing their chores. And then summer arrives and it all falls apart. Your once busy teenager suddenly has hours and hours of time to play with and no direction creating a situation that can quickly escalate out of moms control—so here are some summer tips for moms with teens to help nip it in the bud right from the start.
Summer tips to ensure you and your teen get off on the right foot
I Want My MTV.com
Work together with your child to set reasonable guidelines for their media consumption in the absence of a regular schedule. This includes, television, streaming media on devices, gaming, and app usage. If you can clearly communicate what your expectations are on this topic from the beginning, you’ll avoid unnecessary upset and conflict later on. Take into consideration your child’s hobbies and interests. For example if your child is a gamer, they might want more video game time but less free time for other activities. Or if your child is a photographer, he/she may spend a bit more time editing and sharing their art and get less television viewing time. By discussing limits and boundaries with them, you’re not only giving your child some control over the way they spend their break—you’ll also get some insight about what’s important to them.
As ever, it’s important to establish some house rules. If your teens are going to be home alone during the summer, what are the rules going to be? Can they have friends over? If so, what are the logistics for food consumption, visiting hours, number of people at once…? How long can they hang out by the pool? On the trampoline? What are safety rules? Curfews? Is your teen in charge of your younger children and if so, what are the expectations for how they watch their siblings? Do chores need completing before leisure activities can happen? If you take the time to set up some rules, you’ll both be able to operate happily on the same page.
Is your teenager a licensed car driver? It’s almost unbelievable to me still, but we will be tackling this very issue for the first time this summer. We’ve already set the understanding that the vehicle my son will drive does not belong to him and he needs to be given permission to drive the car each and every time he uses it. To drive without our expressed permission will result in losing driving privileges for a certain amount of time. To top off home rules about driving, make sure you understand the laws in your state or province as they can vary. For example, in Wisconsin where we live, if my son is driving without a parent, he can only have one other non-family member under 18 in the car with him.
Earn Your Keep
Will your child get a job this summer? What hours are you willing to agree upon them working? Make sure you talk logistics with your child, like figuring out transportation to and from said job, etc? What about the money earned? Do you have the same understanding of how much is to be saved, donated, and freely spent? Again, talking ahead of time is key. Negotiate when appropriate.
Enjoy The Summer
Remember to enjoy yourselves. This child is growing at an alarming rate and will be leaving the nest sooner than later. Take time away from the extracurricular activities and work to spend time as a family. Time is limited but you can make the most of it by have fun. For one family that may mean a trek into the mountains to camp while another hits the beach and rides some waves. Whatever fun family time is – DO IT! Tackling summer together will ensure memories that last a lifetime.
Embrace the person your child is becoming by including them in summer planning where appropriate. Cooperating and setting summer guidelines together will enhance the experiences for each of you. Make the most of each day and capture as much fun in the summer as possible!