Relax, Reflect and Renew – that’s what teenagers do in the summer!

Relax, Reflect and Renew – that’s what teenagers do in the summer!

Thinking about it, I don’t know which arouses the highest level of excitement: the anticipation of the summer break or the actual experience! Every year – after all the highs and lows of Christmas, as soon as all the credit card bills have been paid in January – people start thinking of the summer. Most people are happy to be able to go on holiday for a couple of weeks – some people go for just one week, some not at all and some go for longer. As a parent with children in school, whatever length of period you go on holiday for, there is usually more time when you are not away with the family but at home in your usual surroundings. For some of this time that you are with your children, ideally it should be the time when a lot of bonding is done as there should be less of an everyday routine – in comparison to during school term time. However, we all know how difficult it can be to do that when you are in your own home environment.

Is there any easy answer to being relaxed while at the same time keeping teenagers occupied over the summer?

For those with a teenager, there are so many things to contemplate. Some of the thoughts include: how to make sure the refrigerator is replenished all the time as it empties fast; the mess in the kitchen and in the teenager’s room; and perhaps constant bickering and fighting between siblings. In case you have to work and leave them alone, you may feel guilty and worry about if they will spend too much time at the local shopping centre or at KFC, or if they will be glued to their electronic device all the time – texting and on Facebook.

One rather short sentence that we parents often experience during the long summer holiday is the phrase “Mummy, I’m so bored” – sometimes it’s the word ‘Daddy’ that starts that sentence, for the fathers that hang around during the holiday break! I must say that there is less boredom these days – thanks to a phenomenon that is not necessarily a largely positive notion in my book. I guess you know what I’m about to talk about but I’ll explore that later in this article.

The truth is, there is no easy answer and there is no way of preventing teenagers from doing all the things that are bad for them over the summer. Actually, it’s all about balance and a bit of everything in proportion is quite healthy. After all, like us adults, it’s important that teenagers relax and re-energise over the summer. They should be able to have a bit of escapism after all the pressure of the summer examination has gone and they do not have to do homework every day.


Productive use of time over the summer

When I say productive use of time, I’m not necessarily saying that time should be spent doing schoolwork, or even chores for that matter. Given young people have a lot of pressure upon them during term time, such as preparing for examinations, doing homework and so on, the summer time provides an opportunity for them to relax. People who take a break tend to be more effective in what they are doing – I have seen study after study that show positive correlation between relaxation and productivity.

Now different people have different views about what they should do when relaxing, and this applies to both adults and teenagers. What many people see as relaxation theses days is spending an awful lot of time on their electronic device. I have two main issues with electronic devices, such as smart phones, tablets and computers. They deprive people of time they could be spending doing creative activities and they are also a big source of distraction – especially for adults. The reality of our lives is that it is difficult to imagine a world with no Internet and all our electronic gadgets. It’s all about making effective use of them – including not having them switched on all the time and restricting the amount of time we spend on them. This is the phenomenon that I was referring to earlier in this article as being a way of avoiding boredom and in my own opinion it is not the best way to occupy time. There are more creative things that are not necessarily costly and all it takes is a bit of imagination.

Having conversations is important for bonding

I suggest that you have plenty of conversations with your teenager. It can be difficult but try your best, including bribing them – only when you have to! One way this can work is to try and get them away from the home environment, like going for a walk to the park, to a riverside or going on a bus ride – hopefully with the mobile phone switched off or left at home, and I wish you luck with that.


Suggested activities over the summer break

As I said earlier, I agree that the summer time should not be spent by teenagers just doing schoolwork. However, whist I think it is extremely important for young people to spend some time relaxing, resting and perhaps doing very little, it is also an opportunity to learn. We have to remember that learning is not just about reading schoolbooks or doing maths, as there are numerous things that young people do and learn a great deal from. Yes, sometime over the summer could be spent by the teenager doing some of their schoolwork, but really it should not be for most of the school holiday. Below are some of the activities that I suggest for both parents and their teenagers to explore, and most of these things cost nothing or very little.

  1. Walking to the park or to the river
  2. Cooking – including baking cake
  3. Reading for pleasure – preferably a printed book and not electronic!
  4. Cycling
  5. Swimming
  6. Going on a bus ride
  7. Offer to nanny or to baby-sit for free – some people need it and can’t afford to pay
  8. Learning new sport or skills – including water sports
  9. Playing games – or teaching others
  10. Voluntary work – including helping the elderly
  11. Taking part in community projects
  12. Volunteering to teach younger people
  13. Gardening
  14. Writing – including creative writing or writing a letter to the local MP
  15. Learning public speaking
  16. Organise a sleep-out (camping)
  17. Visit a museum or a big library
  18. Learning a new musical instrument – or teaching others
  19. Learning a new language
  20. Learning or doing sewing or knitting

In my next article, I will explore the concern that some parents have about the length of the summer holiday and also look at how parents can use the summer as an opportunity to bond with their children. Please remember to leave a comment after reading the blog.

Below are past blog articles that you may also want to read.

Helpful tips on summer break: