Spring into Spring
Ten Tips for Your Teen or Tween
by Sarah Anne Sumpolec
Spring is a time of fresh beginnings and if you happen to live in an area of the country that gets a true spring, you get to see life bloom all around you. After being cooped up indoors for months on end, it’s time to get outside and get involved! And since technology can get in the way of human interaction, make these activities technology-free. Put away the phones and pods and just spend time together.
Play a Sport
Sports are a great way to keep your teens healthy and active, but working together on a team is healthy, too. While parents often sign up little ones for sports, many kids – especially girls – start to drop out of sports in their middle school years. Unfortunately, that is the worst time to stop since the drama at school tends to ramp up. I highly recommend reading “Go Out And Play: Youth Sports in America”1 Sports are naturally technology free and then the family can go out to cheer each kid on.
Take a Walk
Walking is a low-key activity and it involves fresh air and sunshine. Walk together, walk the dog, walk a trail or just walk around the neighborhood. Pray for your neighbors along the way. Get your kids talking about school. If you do this regularly, you’ll find yourself looking forward to this time to unwind.
In order to not make this a dreaded event, involve your kids in what they would like to do – and it doesn’t mean you have to just play board games! Family nights could mean going somewhere new together. Or working on a project that has been put off. You don’t have to do these on a particular night, but plan ahead and when you see that open evening, make the most of it.
Take a Break
Many schedules can reach a frenzied pace and you might find that your family has too much going on. If that’s the case, then make sure you get some down-time in for everyone. Time to rest and relax is as important as getting active.
Make Time for Church
If you don’t make attending church a priority, it will fall way down your to-do list. Stay involved at church and model how important that is for your kids. They are watching you closely.
Make a List
Sit down with your kids and find out what they would love to do this spring and summer and then schedule a time to do at least one thing on everyone’s list. You may have to give some direction (i.e. the activity has to be within 3 hours of the house) but the more you involve your kids in the process, the more engaged they will be in the activities.
Can your family find one way to reach out to your community this summer as a family? Maybe you can volunteer at an event. Maybe you can make food for the homeless? Maybe you can care for an elderly neighbor’s lawn? Serving together as a family is a wonderful way to work side by side and give of yourselves. Our entire family serves at our church on Sunday mornings and runs the coffee shop. Even the littlest one wipes tables and helps put the clean dishes away.
Consider a Book
We’ve often relegated Bible studies and non-fiction books to “things we do with other moms or dads”, but reading a book together and discussing as a family can be just as powerful. Obviously, this can be a challenge depending on the age ranges of your kids and if so, you might choose a different book to go through with each one. Make time to sit around and talk about what everyone is learning and how to apply those lessons in our daily lives.
Make Time for God
Stress the importance of our personal time with God by helping your kids be accountable. We have a basket on the counter where my kids “turn in” their technology (phones, music, etc) and they sign in on a pad of paper to spend their time with God. When they are finished, they sign out and can collect their things. We all need accountability.
Encourage your kids to do things together without mom or dad. Make suggestions on things they could do or play with one another. We have two activities at our house that my kids love to do together: the trampoline and the Wii. Getting them having fun and hanging out together is important to their relationship but sometimes we need to help make it happen.
I’d love to know if your family tries something on the list and what God does with it! You never know how a simple activity or outing can bond you together. Have a wonderful spring!
Sarah Jeffrey tries to squeeze writing time in between chauffeuring her kids around in a minivan (which she likes to pretend is a Volkswagen Bug convertible—red). She loves hanging out with her family and is a pretty skilled barista, a talent that comes in handy since she drinks tons of coffee. She lives in Virginia with her husband, three daughters, and a variety of animals. Learn more: www.sarahjeffrey.com