It’s a very strange climate for teens to live in. On top of being a teenager, they are having to navigate through a rapidly evolving learning environment, decreased socialization, and an uncertain economic future.
Many teenagers are still reeling from disappointments like cancelled prom, graduations, musicals, and summer events due to COVID-19. A lot of teens are still anxiously anticipating news on the upcoming school year. While it’s normal for your teen to be a bit irritable and want to spend time out of the house, there are some things we as parents can do to make this uncertain period a little easier on them.
Make Mealtime a Priority
No one needs to tell you that teens eat a lot! But without normal school and work routines, mealtimes may have fallen by the wayside. Eating regular, healthy meals ensures your growing teens get the nutrition they need. It also gives everyone a chance to check in after their school or work day. We don’t know about you, but on a normal weekday we each go to our separate corners and do our thing. We may only see each other a handful of times in a day, even though we’re in the same house! Dinner has re-emerged as our special family time.
You might also feel overwhelmed, having to make breakfast and lunch every day; meals that schools might normally provide. Take the weight off your shoulders and get your teen in on meal planning. If they don’t know how to make cereal, an egg, or a PB&J, now is a great time to teach them some cooking skills. Challenge your teen to choose and cook one new dinner recipe each week too. It’s a great way to hang out and have fun.
Normalize Virtual Hang-Outs but Remember to Unplug
We all know how disappointing cancelled plans are. Luckily the growing trend in virtual video conferencing offers you and your teen many alternative options to in-person hangs. We recommend a shared household Zoom account so everyone can stay in touch while maintaining social distancing. Encourage your teen to FaceTime their family members or friends. Here is a great list put together by Billboard of ongoing virtual concerts to attend as well.
While we encourage you to use technology to stay connected, we also recognize how valuable time away from our devices can be. 30-60 minutes a day of outside time is recommended for all age groups, especially adolescents and teens.
With many parents working from home, a health work/life balance can be hard to navigate. We suggest going on a daily family walk!
Set a New Daily Routine
With activities being canceled, teens have a lot of free time on their hands. Keep everyone on track by establishing a daily routine. That doesn't mean you have to schedule your family's activities down to the minute, but strive to keep some sort of rhythm to your day.
Keep wake-up times close to the same each day. Plan time for chores, academic pursuits and hobbies, and entertainment. Posting your routine on a chalkboard or dry erase board keeps everyone accountable.
One other thing...
We know that sometime soon, kids are going to get back to school and things are going to normalize, at least to some degree. Whatever that future looks like we think hand washing is going to be a bigger part of the routine. Sometimes a sink and soap aren’t going to be available, though. So we’ve been stashing hand sanitizer everywhere. We figure if we make using it so routine that they don’t even have to think about it, then maybe that habit will follow them when they head back to school.
That's where our hand sanitizer bundle comes in handy. It comes with one 16-ounce bottle and five two-ounce bottles. That's enough bottles to leave throughout the house. You can even toss one in your teen's backpack. Not all hand sanitizers are created equal. You can rest easy knowing Green Goo's hand sanitizer is Made in the USA with simple, proven ingredients and it's FDA compliant.
Who knows how much all of this is going to affect these kids. Each generation faces challenges big and small and we always seem to find our way through. The most important thing around our house is that we always make time for each other, that we give each other some extra grace as we navigate the new normal, and that we’re mindful about creating good habits to cope with whatever the challenge may be. Hopefully, that will help our kids feel safe and loved and confident enough to let us know when they need more.
That’s what we’re going to try anyway. We’ll let you know how it goes. What about you? Are you doing anything different this year to prepare for school? Are you doing some back to school shopping even though you know your kids are going to learn virtually next semester? You still have to look fresh, right? Even if it is on Zoom. Let us know in the comments and we’ll keep the conversation going.