Surviving the summer holidays with teens and pre teens - Nikki Young

Surviving the summer holidays with teens and pre- teens

I’ve been reading a few blog posts recently about how to survive the summer holidays when you’re a work-at-home mum, how to keep your little ones occupied etc. and I realised I am at an awkward age with my three. At 9, 11 and 14 they don’t want to go to kids clubs anymore, neither are they at an age where they need constant supervision and care. I find myself needing a survival guide for the summer holidays that reads ‘how to ensure your kids don’t spend all summer glued to their screens or the tv’. It’s a catchy one isn’t it? But it’s true. If I don’t give my kids jobs or a purpose, they will do nothing. Literally. The trouble is, I do have work to get on with and I’m not prepared to spend all day, every day entertaining them. It’s not as if they are five is it?

So what do I do, dear reader? Any ideas? Previously, I’ve given them the morning to get on with whatever they want to, on the promise of going out for the afternoons. That works, but I still know it will mean (and add up to) hours of screen time. I get that they need time off, but I’m not comfortable with them getting into a habit of being unable to occupy themselves with anything other than electronics.

My one and only idea so far is to create a list of ‘things’, be it chores or activities, that they can pick from a box. Each one can count to an agreed amount of time on the electronics, but they must complete at least one or two of these activities per day. I haven’t fully worked out the rules yet, but so far my ideas for the box include:

– Tidying your room (a proper clean up, dusting and all)

– Completing a homework task

– A physical activity for 20-30 minutes

– Baking

– A puzzle or crossword-type activity

– Reading for 20-30 minutes

– Empty the dishwasher

– An art or craft activity (colouring, drawing, painting)

– Make a map of the garden and write clues to follow in order to find some hidden treasure

– Practice one of your hobbies

– Write a diary entry or a letter to someone

My 14 year old will object to most of this, but she is also old enough to organise going out with her friends, so I’m only concerned about the days when she’s at home and likely to spend most of the day on her phone. I know my 11 year old will treat every task seriously and go to great lengths with each one, but the boy, well he’s likely to try to get through as many of them as possible in the shortest amount of time. You can see, therefore, that I might need a few more ideas and as much variety as I can muster.

I realise it’s ridiculous to even have to be thinking about doing something like this. Growing up, we were expected to get on with it and make up our own games, but back then, there was nothing on the television during the day and we didn’t have iPads or phones. Electronics have become the default for children to reach for when they haven’t got anything else to do. Also, they don’t go roaming the streets, calling for their friends as we did. You have to arrange play dates nowadays. It’s a different way of living that means parents have become more involved in occupying their children’s time and children are not better off for it. We’ve made them this way though, so I guess we have to live with that.

If you can help add to this list, I will be forever grateful and if you have any other ideas for getting through the holidays while fostering independence, please do let me know.

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