While I think having little ones are toughest during a time of strict quarantine, being stuck with one or two teenagers could be just as daunting. In fact, say one or two words, and the family could be at war, literally. Attitudes, know it all, and “I don’t want to hang with you mom”, could be insensitive, selfish and demotivating. It’s always about, me, me, me!  Parents, don’t IGNOR this or allow this to become the norm.

You do need strategies to ward off potentially damaging behavior or routines that may be developing because of all the unstructured time. While your teens may have been self sufficient, this situation can spiral in a downward pattern if you’re too carefree. 

30 Things To Do With Your Tween or Teenager 

Schools and colleges may not reopen until fall 2020. That’s another 4 months of parent teaching!  Here are 30 of our top ideas that may last you for a month or two... (if you have slightly younger ones, you can tailor these to them. The good news is, the younger kids will want to do these cool things with you. For the not so lucky teenage ravaged homes, here goes. Just remember, you must be a bull and make it happen. Teens want to do the exact opposite of what you want. Try adding incentives. 

1. Teach your teenager how to cook. You’ve already cooked over 100 meals, it’s time to pass the buck. Plus, This is fantastic survival skill training that will be much needed in the years to come...when they leave for college, and when they enter the next phase of adulthood. 18 comes quick. You want to prep them as much as possible. How about make each the chef for two meals per week?

2. Enter into an essay challenge to win a ride on a hot air balloon. Really! PNC and NJ Festival of Ballooning is heading this "What does the American Flag" mean to you? essay contest for all 2nd to 12th grade NJ students.  It's only 100 words. Link

3. Force them to go on a family walk, family run, or family hike. This is important. Teens can’t always be alone locked up in their room. It’s not healthy. Get some fresh air, and walk together. They’ll be surprised that other teens are out there also bonding with their families.

3. Redecorate their room! This is a great motivator to actually “clean up” their room. Help them get rid of their elementary school art work, books, and old dust collected toys. It’s time for a room makeover to reflect who they are now. Get rid of the Star Wars or princess sheets. Get rid of the outrageous wall paper of the farm animals. Put up a fresh coat of paint with grownup shades of blues, grays or a pop of their favorite color but in an age appropriate or sophisticated way so you avoid having to repaint again. Another idea is to hang LED lights which will transform their room. Fun, colorful, easy to hang and has a remote control to change colors. Get the Pangton Villa LED Strip Lights from Amazon. 

4. Take out a deck of cards.  I just took out a deck of cards the other night and taught them the good old game of spit. It was actually a fun, exciting and fast pace game night that kept their hearts racing, maybe because I was a master at it. Find a game that you’re good at. What about doing some card magic. I’m sure you can google some how to do card magic tricks.  Youtube has many videos.  

5. Keep Family Movie Night a tradition.  Don’t you hate the digital devices and AirPods. Everyone watches alone these days. There’s never the tv time like when you were a kid with limited channels and one tv.  A standard home can have over 5-10 screens that you can stream absolutely everything, but the problem is, no one can agree to watch together. Hence family movie night has become obsolete. No! Keep it a tradition. Pick a day during the week and make that your family movie time. Start with the classics. 

6. Have a Mom and Me Spa night. Teenage girls love to pamper just as much as moms need it! Why not do this together. You can make it as elaborate or as simple as possible. If simple, face masks will do the trick; sit for 20 minutes and voila, you’ll be glowing and relaxed. Or do it all, mini facial, mani pedi, hot rollers, makeup. Maybe even a massage. It’s been weeks before you probably even touched your makeup case.

7. Set up a home gym and work out together. Set up some time, find a half hour routine on YouTube (it’s best to have a pro to follow), and just do it. Don’t forget to look your part. Teenagers are picky on dress. So don’t look too shabby or too old fashion. Put on those trendy sweats or leggings, headband, and all...

8. Start some sports drills with them and make it a game...basketball hoop, soccer drills, or badminton. Play catch with glove and ball. Remember the day when they were 5 years old, and you played catch. Well, you can make it a family catch with mom, dad, teens. add a twist to it. Anyone who drops the ball has to clean the dishes.

9. Watch a full broadway musical together.  The Shows Must Go On! broadcasts performances every Friday at 7pm. Full performances from some of the best loved musicals in history!  

10. Build a new Garden. What about a brand new tomato patch, herb garden, rock garden, or something fancier like a Zen garden.

11. Find a good DIY project to do together. Find slightly challenging ones so when you’re done, you both end up amazed with what you’ve done. I mean the stuff high schoolers learn in wood shop or sewing class. 

12.  Sew fun masks. Fun ones and use different patterns or add words. You may end up so creative that you can make for others. We WILL be wearing face masks into the near future. There's also no sew face mask videos using bandanas that are so easy.  Make several with different patterns. We can see a new trend coming! 

13. Create your own puzzles, mazes, crossword, word search. Don't just do them. There are online programs that can do this and it’s plenty fun. Pick the theme, covid19 for instance, and have the family come up with all the words that are relevant, then use them in your puzzles. Have the family make one for each other.

14. Play charade with friends and family over ZOOM.

15. If you have a big enough backyard, find an outdoor game. Spike ball, ring toss, slap tennis...If you don’t have one a yard game handy, you can probably make one.

16. Mulch the yard. Gardening is a chore and must be done. There’s a list of to dos to have that garden look beautiful. Teach them what it takes. Plant trees and bushes together. Go to Home Depot or Lowe’s (face mask and gloves) and have everyone pick out a bush, tree, flowers or vegetables. Have them commit to taking care of their pet project.

17. Need to continue music lessons or pick up a new instrument.  Search through for remote music instruction. 

18. Teach them budgeting and personal finance. Now with limited money, since both parents may be out of jobs, this isn’t a bad time to list out the basic necessities and the cost of each. Then list out discretionary expenses. Set a budget and try to stick with it. Make decisions together.

19. Open high school bank accounts. Soon they will need one that is not a minor account when they go to college. Great time to teach them to save.

20. Zoom in with distant relatives. Get a family get together going. Celebrate anything.

21. Tik Tok together. Video both of you doing something corny. It’s fun, entertaining and will make you, mom and dad look foolish but that’s okay.  Read about the NEW parental control safety feature.  

22. Don’t forget the chores. Maybe switch it up? Tomorrow, it’s your turn to wash the toilet! Show them how. If they use it, then they need to learn how to take care of it.

23. Plan a future family vacation. Dream big together.  

24. Imagine your family on a safari vacation. Then Go there virtually.

25. Love museums, or you’ve always wanted them to go to one? You can now. E-visit the louvre! Transport your family to Paris and take a digital tour of one of the most famous museums. https://artsandculture.google.com/explore

26. Take out the old baby photos and reminisce.  Guaranteed your teenager would love to see a different version of themselves. 

27. Watch old baby videos too!  When they started to eat, talk, walk...

28. Tell jokes at the dinner table.  Laughter is the best healer. Take turns.

29. Brush up on math, reading, science, or the SATs

30. Tell stories. 

Hope you’re successful and will use this list as a guide. Check off as many as you can. Then go visit our virtual pages for more remote things to do.