S.W. asks from Reynoldsburg, OH on June 10, 2009
What to Do with Teenagers over the Summer?
I have three stepkids (18, 15, and 9 yo) and a fourth-month old son. (All three stepkids live with us full-time.) I just recently became a SAHM when my son was born. This worked really well when the older three kids were still in school since I had the house to myself most of the day and could focus solely on the baby for the most part. Now that it's summer, though, I'm realizing that I've unwittingly become a SAHM to the three older kids and all their desires to go here, there and everywhere. Although we had the 9 yo in day camp last summer, since I quit my job we thought we'd try to do something more economical this year (a smattering of camps with some good ol' fashioned free time in between). The older two are too old to be in day camps, but also haven't been successful in finding jobs (not entirely their fault in this economy). But with all four kids at home, I'm afraid I'm going to lose my sanity! I don't want them to feel like they can never have friends over or can never go anywhere, but I also don't want to run pel-mel trying to keep them entertained on any given day. Some days, it's all quiet on the home front - other days, all three older kids want to have someone over or want to go somewhere (of course, never to the same place). My husband and I feel strongly about not allowing the kids to have friends over if we aren't home, so any requests to have friends over suddenly chains me to the house when I otherwise might be out running errands, etc. All this, and I'm still trying to ensure that my 4-month old is properly entertained and cared for. I'm not sure what sort of boundaries or rules might be useful to set up. Any thoughts?
M.P. answers from Cleveland on June 11, 2009
One of the things that worked for me withfour teenagers in the house all at the same time was to set a schedule. Kids need boundaries no matter what age they are.I also found that family meetings helped work out the scheduling issues.My children did things like cutting grass and paper routes in the neighborhood. I also encouraged them to volunteer in the community. We are firm believers in "giving back" to our community. Many organizations are looking for volunteers and I realize that this might add to the driving it might also keep them busy for maybe one day per week.The children volunteered at the hospital, our church, the YMCA and at a soup kitchen. They also cleaned a garage for an elderly neighbor and painted for their grandparents. A schedule gave them boundaries because I set the days that I would be available to drive them to friens houses, swimming etc.,and at family meetings we discussed when there could be others in the house. If they stayed outdoors I did not set limits except not before 10am or after a certain time in the evening. My oldest son also helped drive the youngest.Hope this helps.
1 mom found this helpful
P.H. answers from Cleveland on June 11, 2009
I like the response of volunteering.
Have you tried signing them up for the local library summer reading program? Also, look into getting a local community pool pass. That should provide hours of fun.
How about starting a garden and cooking in the kitchen? Look and Paula Deen and her sons! Check out the local zoo. In the Cleveland area, it is cheaper on Monday (if I'm right). Find out about the local movies in your area. Some national chains have discounted movie days and times. You may have to go to their website.
About.com ran a special online article that featured some of these chains and discount days.
Does your family like to bike ride? We have different bike trails here in Cleveland and there is the Metro Parkway.
Check your local library for a free magazine called,"Family Fun." I think that is the title. Ask the librarian for it. Sometimes they have these lying around. You can rent movies and CD's for free at the library.
Also, hit the garage sales and church rummage sales. They are fun and it shows the teens especially that they have another alternative to blowing their money at the mall.
They provide a lesson in THRIFT. I wish somebody took me to garage sales in my younger days. At our garage sale couple of years ago, I sold a large can of fish flakes for .50 cents to a 10 year old boy because the fish just died. Twice at that sale, I saw grandparents with their grandchildren. One grandmother told me that these garage sale trips were a way of bonding and having fun with her granddaughter. Here granddaughter is going to have some smart fun and great memories of her grandmother!
I'm headed today to the All Saints Lutheran Church rummage sale in Olmsted Falls. Another thing, these rummage sales can provide some cheap food. Cheaper than going to McDonald's and it is for a good cause. Hit Half Price Books and get on their mailing list. They have music CDs for a $1 there and check out the reduced section.
Good Luck and most of all have fun.
1 mom found this helpful
S.F. answers from Fort Wayne on June 11, 2009
I agree that children shouldn't have friends over when parents are not home. I feel like no one should be in the house if parents are not home. You could allow your children to visit another child's home when you are not home... assuming their parent is home and there are calls upon arrival and departure.
I suggest setting up a schedule for your household to figure out which friends they want to visit, when, time for errands, family time, etc. We generally set up rigid schedules for infants and toddlers to eat, play, nap and go to sleep. We can do the same thing for older children. They know what to expect and they can plan ahead to get the most out of their free time. Perhaps set out two days a week where the kids can go over to friends' houses. Use those days to run errands. Get a babysitter for the infant. Drop the kids off, run errands, pick back up the kids. Schedule activities, games, trips to the pool, etc. so things are not boring for them and you do not feel you are run ragged.
Every parent is dealing with the same sort of things, so they may appreciate another parent scheduling activities and switching weeks when their kids are at your house as well. Pick up the kids phone book from school and have the kids call their best friends and see which kids and parents are willing to set up playdates and outtings.
Days at home you can schedule the kids to play outside in the sprinkler, rent movies, borrow movies from the library (free!), go to the library to borrow books-games-CD's-DVD's-VHS, etc. Parks and Recreation Department has all kinds of fairs, festivals, arts and crafts scheduled throughout the week. Some are free. Some have minimal costs. The city also funds free meals... generally near parks or schools. They can get a free meal and play at the park on those days. There are other families there, so the kids could find new friends to play with for a change of pace.
D.K. answers from Indianapolis on June 12, 2009
SIT DOWN AS A FAMILY & SET GOALS FOR THE SUMMER!
Make sure you have academic things for them to accomplish, reading so many books, etc. NOW.....here's the key.....each of them have to talk about the book to the rest of the family. It might inspire another one to read the same book.
We have a page of boxes w/ numbers on them. When she reads a book (she's 6 & a GREAT reader) she colors a box. Goal - minimum of 25 books over the summer. If one of them has a math problem......they need do have a workbook, pull things off the internet, barter w/ a tutor, etc.
Find out about community projects that are going on and get them involved in them. ANOTHER "GOAL" - be involved in one or two community projects. Some communities have opportunities for things like clean-up, planting flowers, etc to better their community.
Find out about volunteer opportunities. Our town has a summer concert series and takes volunteers all the time to help with various things.
Physical goals......each of them picks things they want to do, i.e. swimming, biking, hiking, bowling, ice skating, etc. MAKE A CALENDAR and put them on, alternate days for rain....BUT GET THEM ACTIVE! Use the Wii, if they like or you want as part of it and doesn't matter if it rains.
Set times/opportunities for EACH of the kids to be with each other - one on one AND all together. Obviously, somethings the teenagers do won't be fun or appropriate maybe for the youngest. If they go biking on a hard trail, the 9 year old may not be able to keep up.
LIMIT computer time. SCHEDULE time for them to have friends over.
Take turns having the kids help w/ the meals. You'd be surprised at how much they can do when given the chance. Let them help with planning, shopping AND prep. I start them at 2 helping. Make it an educational process!
Try new foods - PREFERABLY PRODUCE - and have them find out WHERE it grows, HOW it grows (science) What are the values of the food, etc. Each of them gets to try a new food each week or every other week depending on how often you do the shopping. The teenagers are CERTAINLY old enough to do it ALL on their own. Help them to be independent, helpful, well-rounded males that any female would love to have around.
CHORES - laundry - EVERY one has to help. These teenagers need to know anyway.
Make SURE to plan things as a family at least once or twice a month, as your time & budget allow. You can go to the park and just hang, have a picnic, camp or whatever floats your boat (something else you might do).
Make it a summer that is STRUCTURED and they can accomplish things - continue a little academic, community involvement, volunteering, staying active, trying new food and culinary skills, etc. Sounds like a plan to me! Just make SURE to involve them in the plan and let THEM have plenty of input. It will insure that they look forward to it. If they balk at something, i.e. cooking, remind them that they don't know until they've tried. If you need help w/ simple recipes for them, I've got PLENTY! Lots that are kid friendly, too.
S.S. answers from Cincinnati on June 11, 2009
IDK if this would work but have you tried telling the older ones that you will take them somewhere once a week and they can have friends over once/twice a week and then any other time it's up to them to figure out what to do if they want to go somewhere or if they want to hang out w/ friends any other day they will have to go to their houses. I don't know, not there yet and it's early and I've had little sleep lol so thats the best I can come up with :-D GL
J.C. answers from Cleveland on June 11, 2009
You received some great ideas for the younger ones.
And doing volunteer work is an excellent solution for the 18 year old! You said he/she has been unsuccessful in finding a job, but for the 18 yo it should not be optional. (I don't know if it's a young man or young woman, so I'm just going to call him/her "18" to make it easier.) But, 18 should be looking every day for work! How is 18 going to pay for college? Or maybe 18 is not going to college in the fall or you already have the full four year tuition saved up. (?) But as 18 is now an adult, I think 18 needs to take on adult responsibilities.
I'm sorry if that sounds harsh to you, but I know way too many people who have their grown children still living at home because they've not been forced to take care of themselves. These people aren't happy about their 23 and 24 year olds living with them, but think there is nothing they can do - after all, the economy is bad, the kids can't find a job. So they continue to pander to these kids, and the kids aren't learning anything from this, other than they can have fun all day and let mom and dad take care of them. Kids need to be taught good work ethics.
Maybe the volunteer position would lead to a paid position down the road. At the very least it will look good on the resume!
Or, 18 could start his/her own business. Be an entrepreneur! My almost 10 year old just passed out fliers in our neighborhood, advertising his car wash business. He'll go to their house once a week and wash their car for them for $5.00 a wash. Though he just informed me yesterday that he thinks he should charge $7.00 for SUVs and vans because they're much bigger and will take longer. :) And this was something that he came up with himself, because he wants to earn money for a new bike.
So, I'm sure 18 could come up with an idea or two of some way to earn money while still looking for a "real" job. (Some ideas my son came up with that were passed over for the car washing were: dog walking, (I reminded him he would have to clean up after the dogs!) lawn mowing, (I nixed that one - he is still too little to safely handle a lawn mower) selling apple seeds for planting (people would probably just use their own seeds rather than pay for them) charge people to come visit his "Nature Museum" - an exhibit he's set up on his bookcase in his bedroom! Um, no! :)
And you never know.........Maybe 18's business would take off and be so successful that another job wouldn't be necessary!
Good luck! J.
K.K. answers from Cincinnati on June 11, 2009
One quick suggestion would be to have your kids invite their friends over all on the same day so you will only be chained to the house one day rather than 3 days which would be the case if they each took a day to invite a friend over.
L.S. answers from Toledo on June 12, 2009
If they haven't found jobs, maybe you should look at finding volunteer opportunities for the teenagers. Many zoos have these opportunities availables as well as camps (e.g. junior counselors) and even food pantries and churches. There is a definitely opportunity that way to remind them the value of hardwork, giving back and it could keep them out of your way. It can also open future work opportunities and is almost required on college applications these days.