Staying busy is an important component of preventing relapse. Yet during the summer, adolescents have plenty of free time and often less supervision than during the school year. How do you support your teen in staying sober while they have all of this extra time? How do you keep your teen busy this summer?
Create a Daily Schedule Together
Before the summer begins, sit down with your teen and discuss your mutual expectations for the summer. Are there daily chores that need to be completed? Are they expected to work outside of the home or attend school? Are there vacation plans already on the calendar? What are their expectations? What do they want to accomplish this summer? What are the things they want to do?
Once you have the larger expectations hammered out, create a daily schedule together that you both agree upon. Include a wake-up time and a time when chores should be completed, as well as when they should be available for family meals or other activities. Ideally, this schedule should fill up your teen’s day so that they do not have a lot of downtime. Certainly, it can be flexible, but the idea is to keep them busy.
Have a System in Place for Accountability
How will they be accountable for completing their daily tasks? Will they check in with you by text or phone? Check-in with a neighbor or other family member? Will they receive privileges for completing tasks? You know your child best, and you know your situation best. Develop a system that not only allows your teen to feel responsible but also holds them accountable for their time and their actions. Accountability is a vital component of your teen’s recovery.
Ideas for Structured Social Activities
For teens who would be more successful with some structure or supervision, even when you are working, there are plenty of activities that will keep them busy and offer them opportunities to socialize as well. When these are presented as opportunities rather than punishments, they are likely to be more well-received by your teen.
- Summer Job–for the teen who is ready for the responsibility, a summer job is a great way to learn responsibility and bring in some income as well. As a bonus, they improve their social skills and their resumé in the process.
- Sports or Performing Arts–finding a program for them to participate in a sport, performing art, or other hobby that they enjoy is a great way to keep them busy, build talents and skills, and give them social opportunities at the same time.
- Volunteer Organizations–delivering meals to elderly people, helping kids at the libraries or day camps, helping with pets in shelters, and other worthy causes are great ways to build self-worth and keep your teen busy simultaneously.
- Church or Other Social Groups–many organizations offer teen or youth activities that are free or low-cost throughout the summer and help your child socialize with other teens in outdoor or recreational activities.
- College or Enrichment Classes–local or community colleges often offer summer classes for credit or enrichment that are available to high school students and offer unique and fun learning opportunities that keep your teen busy and invested throughout the summer.
Be a Good Neighbor
Do you have neighbors who need their lawns mowed? Dogs walked? Other household chores or babysitting? Your teen could stay busy by helping neighbors on a regular basis, as a service or for pay. Your neighbors get work done that they need, plus maybe a little companionship, and your teen has more to do where they are engaged and supervised regularly. Being a good neighbor benefits you as well.
Make Plans to Have Fun
In the midst of all of these other plans, do not forget to make plans to have fun as a family. Plan a camping trip or other family outing. Explore your local area, go on a hike, or just have a picnic together. Do that painting or fix-up project you have been talking about, but do it together. Your teen may not like these activities, but they will help improve your relationships as a family.
Make one night every week family night. Have dinner together, play board games, or watch movies, taking turns choosing the menu, game, or movie. Dress up. Dance or even just enjoy music together. Even better, let your teen come up with the activity and use their skills and talents to help bring the family together. Just do not forget to plan time to have fun together as a family this summer.
Keeping your teen busy this summer can involve creating a daily schedule together along with a system for accountability. Whether they take classes, find a summer job, or volunteer, they can find value and worth in staying busy. Also, remember to make time to have fun as a family to improve relationships. Sustain Recovery understands the importance of the family in the recovery process. We know that your involvement and support are crucial to your teen’s healing and can make a difference in helping prevent a relapse this summer by keeping them busy and fulfilled. Our extended residential program in Irvine, California, helps teens identify the root causes of their behaviors, and we help them learn accountability as they heal from substance abuse. Contact us today at (949) 407-9052 to find out if our program is the right program for your family.