Spring break: A full week off from school for your teen. He or she might be looking forward to sleeping in and spending hours watching Netflix. Or they might plan to spend time with friends; what they do could be anyone’s guess, depending on the supervision available. With many parents working during spring break, your teen might be left to his or her own devices. Depending on your teenager, this could be a recipe for either boredom or disaster (or both). If your adolescent doesn’t have specific plans for the week, here are nine great ways to keep your teen busy over spring break.
1. Start a Garden
Spring is the perfect time in many areas to start a garden. Your teen may balk at first, but many teens find that they enjoy starting seeds or putting baby plants into the ground. Check out the USDA zones chart to find out which zone you’re in. You can also go to the Old Farmer’s Almanac website to put in your zip code and see which plants you can start now. Learning about gardening just might spark a green thumb in your teen; encourage them to invite a neighbor or friend to join in the fun.
2. Host a Movie Marathon
While you probably don’t want your teen staring at a screen all spring break long, hosting a movie marathon is a great way for your adolescent to get in some safe, adult-supervised fun time with friends. They might choose to watch all of the Star Wars or Harry Potter movies, catch some 80s flicks like Dirty Dancing and The Breakfast Club, or pick something totally new on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. Part of the fun of a gathering like this is choosing the snacks and itinerary, so let your teen and his or her friends spend some time making the arrangements before the big day (or night).
Every community has volunteer opportunities, and many welcome teens, particularly during spring break. Talk to your teen about what he or she might be interested in doing. Some suggestions might be volunteering in a church nursery, delivering mail and flowers at a local hospital, building homes with Habitat for Humanity, and walking (and cleaning up after!) the dogs at a local animal shelter. Your computer-savvy teen might also enjoy doing some pro-bono typing or social media work for a local non-profit. Remember, too, that volunteering looks great on college applications and provides mental health benefits.
4. Apply for Summer Jobs
Summer jobs fill up quickly, so if your son or daughter hasn’t yet started putting in applications, spring break is a good time to do so. Just make sure that they indicate that they’re available starting after school ends. Some popular jobs for teens who don’t want to work in a fast-food restaurant include lifeguarding, working at a summer camp, working at an amusement center or park, and bussing tables at an upscale restaurant. Babysitting is another good option; now is the time to take a babysitting safety course, if desired, and start looking for clients. Spring is the time of year when working parents start to look for summer care for their school-aged children. Getting a summer job is a great way for teens to start learning responsibility.
5. Work on Scholarship Applications
If your teen is college-bound, spring break is a good time to finish up scholarship applications and essays. It can be hard to balance this extra work with their regular schoolwork, so having a week off is a good opportunity. Since your teen is not likely to want to spend all of his or her free time writing applications, count on this being a good activity for an afternoon or two.
6. Prepare for a Yard Sale
If spring has sprung in your area, it’s a good time to clean out the house and have a yard sale. Your teen might not be happy about decluttering, but if you mention that they can keep the proceeds of anything of their own that they sell (and perhaps a bonus for helping to clear out the garage, basement or attic), you may be surprised at how eager and productive they suddenly become. Have your teen look through a list of tips on having a good garage sale so they’re prepared to take bottom dollar for most of the things they sell.
7. Plan a Vacation
You might not be able to go away for the week, but spring is a good time to start planning a summer vacation. Let your teen be in charge of making the arrangements. A teen who knows how to book flights and hotels (under your watchful eye, of course, especially with the no-refund flights!) becomes an adult who can pull off vacation-planning with much less stress. Have them look through reviews and compare prices as they make the plans and itineraries for your family trip.
8. Spend Time With Friends
Your teen will want to spend time with his or her friends, but you might be reluctant to let them go “hang out” with no activity in mind and no adult supervision. Instead, find out which parents are home during the day and encourage them to go there. If you can take a day off, you can offer to host at your house. Other fun options that don’t require parental supervision but don’t allow much leeway for mischief-making include going to the movies, miniature golfing, bowling, roller skating at a rink, or to an arcade. Just be sure your teen has a safe way there and back and be sure to remind them of the rules when it comes to staying safe and out of trouble.
9. Go Away for a Night
If you can’t travel during spring break, you can still take a mini-vacation by booking a night at a hotel not too far from your home. You could make it a one-on-one trip or bring the whole family along. Spending some time at nearby attractions that you haven’t visited recently (or at all) can be a great way to make memories during spring break and improve your parent-teen relationship.
You can keep your teen safe and happy through his or her spring break by planning ahead. Try some of these tips and be sure to get some input from your teen on what they’d like to do. Finally, don’t forget to leave time for sleeping in and some vegging out… after all, they’re on break!