SURVIVING THE SUMMER WITH YOUR ADOLESCENT KIDS
Summer's in full swing: school's out and overnight, your daily challenge has transformed from completing all of your errands and housework before the school bell rings to keeping your children occupied (and out of your hair) all day.
Try as we might, it's really hard not to fall into that ever so convenient trap of allowing the TV/iPad or DVD/Blu-ray player to babysit your kids. Up to about 9 years old is easy - just take 'em in the backyard to look at plants, birds and bugs or have fun inside with Playdoh, finger painting, Lego Star Wars, cards or board games. From 10 or 11 onwards is a major challenge: every suggestion you come up with is labeled either "lame" or "boring". That is, except for shopping or hanging out at the mall... only you're not the one they want to go with (sorry, mom)!
In our day, parents used to solve this problem with good, old-fashioned work - drag us down to the local ice cream parlor or fast food joint and get us a job. That shut us up one time, especially after getting that first paycheck!
So our last resort is usually the plethora of camps that pop up each summer. Most are pretty good, but by keeping the same hours as school, they rob us (and our kids) of the much-needed mental break from a hectic school routine. That said though, camps can be loads of fun, with cool skills to be learnt and lots of other kids to socialize with. Sports camps are particularly beneficial for budding athletes.
So, what can we do with our teens and tweens? For active families there's hiking, rock-climbing and the new fitness fad of American Ninja Warrior obstacle courses. Tree-house projects keep kids laser-focused and offer major, lasting rewards for all of the hard work put into them. Picnics are ever-popular, especially at a remote, scenic area like a log cabin or lake house... road trip, anyone? It'll be a blast, provided you can keep your kids from killing each other!
Of course, you can always take a flight somewhere. However, in advance you should ensure that your destination has a bit of everyone's tastes - nature, action, shopping, ocean, water sports, concerts, magic shows, circuses, theme parks, special interest conventions, low-stakes gambling - any and everything to keep your family focused on fun. I myself swear by TripAdvisor.
Yeah, today's constantly "plugged-in" generation of tweens and teens can be really difficult to please. I recently got a dose of how differently they relate to the world when I was on vacation with my then 14 year old niece. We were passing by this breathtaking lake and suddenly she pointed to something and asked, "What's that?". I looked across from the road and was immediately tempted to reply, "Oh, that's the lost zone once known as 'outside'!", but instead I simply said, "It's called an egret, Alyssa.".
Have a memorable summer with your kids!