Happy New Year! If you’re like us, you’re halfway through your winter break with your teens. The build up and excitement of Christmas is past, the decorations are starting to bother you, and your teens are repeatedly reminding you that they’re hungry and bored. Everyone is starting to get on everyone else’s nerves. How do you feed them, entertain them, protect the household budget, and enjoy the balance of the break yourself? Check out these ideas:
- Waffles with all the fixin’s. This is a great if you have to go work but they’re staying home alone. Bring out the waffle iron, or stock up on frozen ones. Get a can of whipped cream, some strawberries, some chocolate chips. Mix up the batter and have it ready in the fridge for when they wake up–you know, around 11:00. Have them send you pics of their waffle creations.
- Check out a new local coffee shop. Pack up a book, some cards/stationery, a coloring book and markers, whatever they want–but aim to make it tech-free. Let them get a fancy coffee, split a muffin and just hang out and chill.
- Have them cook a family dinner. (Especially helpful if you’re working over the break.) If your teens know how to boil noodles and brown some ground beef (and they should), have them make a pan of lasagna. It is both simple and impressive. They can Instagram the whole thing. Have them make a HUGE salad (enough for left overs the next day) and some simple garlic bread. Voila!
- Caramel Corn. We recently learned how simple this is to make: popcorn, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and baking soda. Cheap and delicious! Great for family movie night, road trip, or afternoon munchies. Mix it with a batch of regular popcorn, or cheese popcorn–it’ll last longer and taste even better.
- Go on a family hike. Check out a new trail you haven’t hiked yet. Try a midnight hike at your local nature center. Bundle up and don’t wimp out because it’s winter.
- Walk the dogs. Forge a new path, check out a different route, dog park, or trail. Tire them all out.
- Visit a different library in a nearby town (or check out your own library). Your teen might or might not be interested in one of the library teen events, but their book, MAGAZINE, and movie selections are worth checking out. See if your library is part of a district or co-op, where you can check out books from another location but return them to your branch.
- Free museum days. We recently took advantage of Free Admission Night and took our teens to the Grand Rapids Art Museum. It was a hit with one daughter, not so much with the other, but a new and fun experience for the whole family. Not your typical Thursday evening. We’ll definitely be back. Check out museums around you to see what your options are.
- Sledding/Skating/Snow-shoeing–anything that gets them outdoors. If you have an outdoor skating rink nearby, you’ve hit the jackpot. Bring along a thermos of hot chocolate and extra mittens/gloves. If you really love your kids, you’ll pack some of those hand-warmers they can slip in their gloves. 😉 When you get back home, watch an ice skating movie together. Check out this list, or if you like rom-coms, you’ll love “Serendipity.”
- Build a bonfire. Gaze at the stars, drink hot chocolate, roast marshmallows. S’mores taste just as good in the winter. Jazz them up with different candy bar options: York Peppermint Patties, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats–be creative!
- Go thrift shopping. We have several thrift and resale stores in our town and my teens love the adventure of the hunt. My daughter who loves designer items once found a Kate Spade purse for $5. My other daughter, who likes to craft, stocked up on brand new skeins of yarn for $1 each. Thrifting teaches kids how to stretch a dollar and how to save the environment by reusing what’s already been produced. A win-win in our book.
- Put all their tech know-how to a productive use. Challenge them to create a video blog or free Animoto video or slide show. Premiere their creations at a family movie night, while you munch on (what else?) caramel corn!
- Pack up ornaments into their own storage boxes. We have a tradition of giving each of our daughters a new ornament every year. When the day comes that they move out on their own, they’ll be set with a box of unique ornaments for their own Christmas tree. This year they’ll each get their own storage box that they can decorate as they wish and then wrap and pack up their ornaments for next year. (If you don’t have this tradition, it’s never too late to start!)
As you may have noticed, this list avoids the budget-breaking movie theatres, malls, laser tag/bowling alleys, and restaurants. The focus is on family, creativity, and new experiences, which is always a win! I’d love to hear how you’re spending your days with your teens this week!