So I’m a complete newbie when it comes to parenting a teenager. My only child just turned 13 a couple of months ago, and in many ways, he’s still such a wittle baby. But who was once my sweet, agreeable, easygoing little tater tot has been replaced with someone resembling Teen Wolf more with each passing full moon–hairier, moodier, hungrier, and sleepier.
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Here is a list of random ways I am preparing for my first summer housing one of these cranky little beasts of my own.
- Fully Organize & Clean Their Spaces
You will instantly make life easier for yourself and your teen the moment you take the time to completely clean, declutter, and organize your home, in that order.
Not only will you be in a better mood, so will your teenager. At this stage of life, we are all a bit sensitive and on edge, but imagine how much lighter the household energy will feel once your family is waking up in a clutter-free, airy, open space and spending their day in an intentionally designed home.
If tackling the entire house is not possible right now, at least set aside an afternoon to hit those most important areas to your teen. For mine, I would prioritize my boy’s bedroom and bathroom, kitchen and pantry, media room, and home gym / garage. Basically, the areas where he spends the most solo time.
Organize their items in a way that makes sense as a system, but do not sleep on the power of an aesthetically pleasing setup. Teens thrive in beautiful, clean, and organized spaces, and it’s one of the quickest and most effective ways to support them.
My son truly appreciates the Home Edit ROYGBIV rainbow design system in our pantry. So much so that I actually overheard him showing it off to a friend that he had over last week.
I unbox all of his snacks and meal staples then arrange them all by color in clear bins and acrylic tiered risers. Extra, I know, but it makes a giant energetic impact.
2. Prep healthy ingredients for easy access
Buy an assortment of fruits, veggies, and herbs then wash and cut them up before storing in clear containers. (If you don’t have clear containers, label them so that your teen can instantly identify what’s inside.)
Also extra? Yes, but I think it’s a cozy, maternal way of showing my love and support to my kid. And let’s face it–they are more likely to eat what they see, what is presented beautifully, and what is easiest to prepare.
You can also make sure they have access to in-season garnishes to make “pretty water” such as mint leaves, basil, strawberries, peaches, citrus, and anything else in season. Look to Pinterest and TickTock for ideas on simple, refreshing mocktails. I know this sounds like a super tiny incorporation, and it is, but any coffee and tea drinker can tell you that a simple beverage can really brighten up the vibe of the day.
3. Upgrade Your Food Delivery Service
Ok, I will admit that this is for the spoiled chil’ren. But if it works for you and your family, especially if the adults in the family work outside the home, I highly suggest upgrading to a higher level membership for food delivery such as Uber Eat’s Uber One or Door Dash’s Dash Pass. This will save you tons of money on delivery and service fees over time and you can earn loyalty discounts. Obviously, not as much money as you would by meal-prepping lunches and snacks when we can, but life happens, and this service can be a lifesaver.
Pro Working Mom Safety Tip: Instruct the driver to leave the order on your doorstep, letting them know that there is no need to meet anyone face-to-face. Keep an eye on the app’s tracking map, and when you see the driver has arrived, call or Facetime your teen and keep them on the phone while they make sure the driver has left the driveway completely before opening the door to grab the food. Ensure that they lock the door immediately after grabbing.
4. Let Them Choose Their Own Summer Activity / Hobby
If I were a recipe of iconic/notorious mother archetypes, I’d consist of 1 tsp Tiger Mom. After all, my son hasn’t consistently attended weekly guitar lessons for the last half decade without a “you’ll thank me later” nudge here and there. So I understand the concept behind pushing your teens to develop skills you have observed to be most valuable in all your wise years here on Earth.
However, the value your teen may find in a certain activity that lights them up, you may not always be able to see or understand. But try not to forget that we only have a few more precious years with them at this stage. We could have all used more joy in our teen years because it’s rough. So why not allow your child to fully explore their own interests and bring healthy joy into their lives as much as you can while they fight the same battles? Our hobbies are priceless therapy and expansive tools.
We all know about Camp Longhorn and all the other incredible organizations that we’ve known about forever, but with the teen years comes countless opportunities to think outside the box with activities. Now is the time to finally consider Iron Horse Motocross Camp (highly, highly recommend btw, not sponsored) or rock band camp, maybe even a summer studying abroad to learn a new language. Our teens are dying for freedom and independence (you remember that feeling, right?), and summer is the golden opportunity for that.
5. Don’t Overschedule
Not everyone will agree with this, so please take it or leave it as you see fit.
I believe we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as parents to create the perfect summer schedule to keep our teens productive and valuable as functioning members of society. We want to jam in as many life lessons as we can before we set them off into the world, and that’s understandable.
But many of us already put these kids through a lot throughout the school year, be it for their own good, our own ego, or maybe a bit of both. Either way, they deserve a season of breathing room, and so do you.
Maybe plan on having a more relaxed family vacation on the beach with very few obligations planned versus an extremely structured itinerary of non-stop appointments at your usual vacation spot.
Keep a few weekends free of any obligations at all, and instead just see where the day and the energy of your home takes them. Give them space to live mindfully. Learn to live a softer life with them.