You survived COVID-19 with your tween or teen during the school year. Perhaps your days have included fighting over school assignment completion, wondering why they have to eat AGAIN, and juggling appropriate screen time. And we’ve got two more months of them still being at home. So how do you survive the summer? Here are some ideas to thrive with tweens and teens as the summer begins.
- Keep a bit of structure. While letting my kids go feral appeals to me (currently working full-time from home), I also know both my boys may turn into full-blown wolves (evidenced by the howling I hear outside my window right now). We serve three meals a day and everyone helps with clean-up. We generally do chores and “learning time” in the morning, and they let them do their own thing all afternoon. One of my kids thrives on this schedule. But full disclosure: we’ve found the other one does best when we just let him do his own thing.
- Keep growing academic skills. We definitely won’t be keeping the same “rigorous” (approx. 2 hours of schoolwork) each day. But my husband and I have also become very attune to areas of growth our kids could benefit from, as a result of being their teachers the last two months. We’ve shifted the language from “school time” to “learning time” now that we’re officially in summer.
At our house, we have a common reading time. We’re also working on a weakness of each child. My 6th grader needs writing practice, so he’s pen-pal-ing three times a week with different family members in a Google doc.
- Don’t give up on building life skills! It is so much more time consuming to coach my kids through unloading and loading the dishwasher, washing dishes, sweeping the floor, learning how to cook basic meals, and doing laundry. But I’m not doing this for me (well, I kind of am. I need some help!). Mostly, I want them to build skills to be able to do this on their own someday. I’m giddy over this list of 13 life skills you can work on with your teen now, like “how to handle disappointment.”
- Take the phone. And tablet. And laptop. TAKE IT ALL. We all need a break from electronics – but your preteen/teen needs you to regulate this even more. Especially don’t let them have devices in their room at night (they are on them at 2am, if you currently allow it).
- Be intentional about having light moments! This article has 15 things you can do with tweens & teens. It includes learning a tik tok dance, setting up an obstacle course, even creating a baking challenge. Break up the monotony of being home together. We all need moments where we’re reminded of how we like each other – and enjoy a smile or a laugh.
- Check out their mental wellness – by sharing how you’re really feeling first. Some days I feel good about the work I’m able to get done with my own job and the kids are being kind (enough). Other days, I wish I could just crawl back under the covers. Be the first to be vulnerable with your feelings, and ask how your tween/tween is feeling. They may not open up at first, but there will be glimmers, and you’ll know they feel heard by you when they say, “I really miss my friends” or “I wish I could go do…”
- Take a breath. Believe me when I say I need someone to say this out loud to me every day because THE KIDS ARE DRIVING US WILD. Call friends with kids similar to yours. Vent, and then encourage one another. We’re all in this together. We will survive our tweens and teens at home (and hope we will come out better on the other side).