Today is the first day of my teenager’s spring break—but who’s counting? He’s enjoying sleeping in and just vegging, but I know that he needs more structure than that for the next nine days of our stay-cation.
So before he went to bed last night, I asked him to sit with me for five minutes and review some ideas I had. For example, I gave him the website of an upcoming local film fest so he can contact them for volunteering opportunities. And I want him to figure out how to get a work permit, and then begin to apply for part-time summer jobs. To make him feel that he’s in control, I’ve thrown in a few more activities—of which he has to select only two.
Most importantly, I asked him to put together a daily schedule that would include wake-up times and bedtimes, meals, chores/responsibilities, exercise, homework, music practice, writing for his blog, reading, getting together with friends, relaxing, etc.—all things that are part of his daily routine. God willing, my son will draft this schedule today.
Let me digress a moment. On another topic, there’s a cool website www.scholarshipexperts.com that offers monthly opportunities to try for a college scholarship. Each month there’s a new 250-word essay to write and he’s been doing this for the past four months. I see it as good practice at the least. Well, he has a list of all 12 essay topics for 2013 along with the deadlines—last day of the month at 11:59pm. I happen to know for a fact that March’s entry is not complete yet.
While there aren’t any demerits or punishments from me for not completing the essays, there are bonuses for doing so. And trust me, I know how to make those rewards pretty darn attractive to a teen who lives and breathes cinema. But, well, let’s just say the clock is ticking…
OMG, he just threw me a bone! He looked up from his computer and said, “Mom, I’m typing up that scholarship essay now.” Oh, yippee-ki-yay! [As I asked him how to spell that, he asked why I was quoting Bruce Willis from “Die Hard” (1988). Everything, I mean everything, relates back to movies for him, and that’s just fine.]
Back to his daily schedule, without the structure of the regular school day, it’s easy for him to lose track of time and all else. The schedule provides him with a road map for his day. He’s much more productive, and much more calm because he knows what to expect. And when he knows what to expect, he can be mentally prepared for the challenges that each day presents.
So do yourselves—and your kids—a big favor during spring break, whether you’re traveling or not. Maintain some form of structure for them. Eat lunch the same time each day. Watch TV the same time each day. Play outside, have quiet time, do chores, sightsee, etc. the same time each day. When your child can mentally prepare for what’s next, his/her anxiety levels can drop.