As summer arrives and the school doors close, mums (and dads!) find themselves facing a new challenge: navigating the school holidays with teenagers. The relaxed schedules and increased free time can sometimes lead to chaos and stress. However, by incorporating essential healthy habits into our routines, we can maintain our sanity and create a more harmonious summer for both us and our teens. In this blog post, we will explore five essential healthy habits that will help us navigate the school holidays with teenagers and ensure a memorable and enjoyable summer for the entire family.
- Prioritise Self-Care: When school is out, us mums often put their own needs on the backburner to accommodate our teenagers’ schedules. However, it’s crucial to prioritise our self-care and have some boundaries during the summer holidays. Making sure we allocate some time each day for activities that recharge you mentally and physically. Whether it’s a morning yoga session, a leisurely walk, reading a book, or indulging in a hobby, find what brings you joy and make it a part of your routine. Remember, taking care of yourself allows you to be the best version of yourself for your teenagers.
Personally, I like to ´bookend´ my day so I get up and do my morning routine including movement, alone time, day planning, etc before everyone is up and also end my day with some reflection time too. I have found when I don´t incorporate this into my holiday routine it can lead to me being less grounded and more prone to flare ups with the kids.
Stay Active Together (Approximately 150 words): Physical activity is not only beneficial for your health but also a great opportunity for bonding with your teenagers. Engage in activities that you all enjoy, such as family walks, bike rides, swimming, or even trying out a new sport together. Incorporate daily exercise into your routine and encourage your teens to join you. Not only will this keep you fit, but it will also strengthen family relationships and create lasting memories.
- Establish Boundaries and Open Communication: During the school holidays, it’s essential to establish clear boundaries and maintain open communication with our teenagers. At the start of the holidays setting expectations regarding screen time, chores, and responsibilities. We are also trying to encourage our kids to do something to learn a new skill in the holidays whether it is a new language, about AI or learning to type.
A much as possible we can try to encourage open dialogue and an environment where our teens feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and concerns. By fostering healthy communication, we can address any issues before they become bigger issues and strengthen our relationship with our teenagers.
- Create a Flexible Routine: While the school holidays offer a break from rigid schedules, maintaining a flexible routine can help maintain a sense of structure and stability. Discussing with our teenagers a summer schedule that balances their desires with essential activities and responsibilities. This routine can include designated family time, study hours, and leisure activities. Having a loose structure in place will provide a sense of predictability and help everyone stay on track. In fact studies have shown how many teens and kids want and need some structure as much as their independence.
- Encourage Volunteering or Community Engagement: Summer holidays provide an excellent opportunity for our teenagers to give back to the community. Encouraging them to engage in volunteer work or participate in community service activities. Whether it’s assisting at a local animal charity or other organisation, organising a neighborhood or beach/river clean-up, or helping out at a community event, volunteering can instill a sense of purpose, empathy, and responsibility in our teens while strengthening their connection to the community. Giving back also helps with mental health and, obviously gets them off their screens!
- Foster Independence and Life Skills: Why not use the school holidays as a chance to teach our teenagers valuable life skills and foster independence? Encourage them to take on age-appropriate responsibilities like managing their own schedules, cooking meals (especially if they are going off to uni soon!), doing laundry, on public transport or handling their finances. Last summer I accompanied my two (then aged 14 and 12) a couple of times on the local train and then let them start doing it on their own which has been great for their confidence and also meant that I don´t feel like a permanent taxi driver! By empowering our teens with these practical skills, we not only prepare them for adulthood, but also alleviate some of the load on ourselves. Additionally, as I mention above, it helps build confidence and a sense of accomplishment in our teenagers.
- Practice Mindfulness and Stress Management: School holidays can sometimes be overwhelming, with increased demands and expectations on all of us. Firstly recognising that is the case for us all can be crucial! We can help our teens and ourselves manage stress by practicing mindfulness and/or stress reduction techniques together or sharing links to videos or podcasts around this. Explore activities like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga. Encouraging our teenagers to express their feelings and concerns, and provide them with tools to cope with stress (and us too!). By cultivating a mindful and calm environment, we can promote emotional well-being and create a more positive atmosphere during the summer holidays.
- Emphasise the Importance of Rest and Sleep: Amidst the excitement of the school holidays, it’s crucial to prioritise rest and ensure adequate sleep for both us and our teenagers. Encourage a regular sleep schedule, even during the summer break. Create a relaxing bedtime routine and limit electronic device usage before bed. Quality sleep promotes physical and mental well-being, enhances concentration, and boosts overall productivity. By establishing healthy sleep habits, you and your teens can recharge and enjoy the summer with renewed energy.
It is also important that we get enough rest and don´t find ourselves getting up at the crack of dawn or staying up to the early hours to sneak in as much work as possible. Finding some balance can be tricky, but is so important to maintain our equilbrium and ensuring we have a sustainable summer routine.
- Plan Meaningful Family Activities: Make the most of the school holidays by planning meaningful family activities. Engage in shared experiences that create lasting memories. This could include going on day trips to nearby attractions, exploring nature, having family game nights, cooking together, or even planning a family holiday together. These activities not only strengthen bonds but also provide opportunities for quality time and meaningful conversations. Cherishing these moments with your teenagers will contribute to their overall happiness and well-being. Remembering that this does not need to be done every day (a mistake I have often made!) but planning the odd day or even hour or two to do something fun or necessary together, rather than putting excessive pressure on ourselves which can backfire on us and also our relationship with our teens (who often would like to be on their own or with their friends).
Navigating the school holidays with teenagers (and all kids) can be both exciting and challenging for mums. By trying to include some of the above into our lives and our schedules we can create a more harmonious summer filled with cherished memories. Why not now sit down with a pen and paper or with your teens even and find a couple of things you can integrate into your summer. Sometimes we are good at reading the post or listening to the podcast, but need to actually find a way to build what we have learnt or speaks to us most into our lives. Think of one or two things now and plan them into your diary or plan so you can make a difference in all of your lives. Embracing one or a few of these essential healthy habits, will make a differene to you and hopefully lead to a more enjoyable summer of growth, connection, and (even!) joy with our teenagers and kids.
I also wanted to recommend this list of podcasts that have been useful to me in my journey with our teens. The first few on the list are the ones I have listened to so far and have been hugely helpful in my perspective and approach to our teenagers. Please feel free to share any resources you have found helpful with your teens below.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, questions, resources and habits around school holidays with teens and kids, plus anything that works for you. Please do get in touch below and share – it is always so wonderful to hear from you!
Thanks so much for reading!