Have you ever noticed how a day can just disappear before your eyes if there is no structure or plan in place? Or that you can feel “stuck” or directionless when you don’t spend your days working, at least in part, towards some purpose? This is especially true now after months of stay at home orders, and continued time at home. It is difficult to keep up with a routine if it’s not already established, and when a routine now feels like Groundhog Day, it’s just harder. This new reality is affecting our teens, who feel like their normalcy was taken away, and find refuge in spending hours and hours on their phones or playing video games. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make their day any easier. In fact, all the time spent watching videos and refreshing timelines ends up adding to their discontent and feelings of aimlessness, which only adds to their unhappiness during tough times. So, is there anything we can do about it? Choosing the right summer activities for teens can be the key to find a way out boredom and unhappiness.
Does your teen really have time for all those activities? Or, are they totally overscheduled? Or is it a combination of too much to do, but also way too much time lost to electronics and other distractions? Time management is a constant source of discussions in most homes as we try to teach our teens to take ownership of their own activities and accomplish everything they are trying to do.
I know my teens find it challenging to fit it all in. And as much as we all agree that having downtime is valuable to recharge, sometimes their free time is wasted in things that don’t make them feel rested, refreshed, and ready to tackle school and extracurricular activities. Plus it’s critical for teens to also have downtime that they can count on to relax and recharge.
Back to School can be a good thing and a bad thing… The beginning of the school year can be exciting: starting in a new school, challenging new classes, seeing school friends more often. But it can also be chaotic, disorganized, and challenging. Shifting from summer to a rigorous school schedule can be a painful transition, for parents as well as teens. Early wake-ups, homework, school projects, after-school clubs and activities can fill up a day pretty quickly. This year our oldest is starting high school, which means we also have a totally new routine to get used to. So, it’s totally understandable that a few things will fall through the cracks as students and parents adjust to the new demands.
We talk a lot about SMART goals for teens on this website and on our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages because we are big believers in everyone’s ability to improve their chances of success. But, I also realize that learning how to define each goal as a SMART goal is not so easy if you haven’t had any practice doing that. The very first time I sat down with my own kids to turn their goals into SMART Goals, it took quite a few tries and discussions back and forth to walk them through the process that would give them a “stretch goal” that was also defined in enough detail that they could now work off of their activities list or action plan. I even looked for examples of SMART goals for teens, and honestly I didn’t really find much to go on.
This summer is flying by! At least that’s what it feels like at our house. It seems like the end of school only gave way to tired teens and tired parents. We tried to give our kids time to recover, sleeping in, extra time with their friends, knowing that the first month they would still be pretty busy with tennis camps, dance competitions, chores, and family activities. And now we’re halfway through the summer, and it seems that we’ve fallen into some bad habits of too much time in front of electronics, and maybe not enough motivation to get away from them.
Wouldn’t it be great to get your tween or teen to use some of their summer to work on a Genius Project that builds on a passion or something they’re curious about?
So it’s the start of summer, again, and everyone is tired. But, you’re dreading your teens spending yet another summer in front of the TV, phones, and video games. When kids are too old for summer camp, but too young for a job or internship, it can be a real challenge to find a way to keep kids busy in something meaningful that they will learn from. As our own kids have gotten older, our agreement is that they can stay home as long as they spend scheduled time working on something meaningful. Last year they worked on their skills for tennis and dance, and this year we’re adding the idea of a Genius Project.