It’s the last week of school, and I’m looking ahead to summer. What am I going to do to keep the kids busy? My nine year old and my toddler are easy. Spray parks, library story time, and dollar movies will provide lots of cheap entertainment. But what about my teen? She told me about a week ago, “I’m a teenage girl. We’re expensive.” That’s the truth!

But I’m not about to settle for spending tons of money on her this summer, just because she likes expensive things. I’ve got big plans for her. Plans that don’t cost anything and that will help her grow as a young adult.

So what will I be doing with my teen? Read on!


Hannah loves animals. She used to take 4-H classes that taught her to train our dog. But in the last few years, school and band have overtaken her life, and she hasn’t had time to pursue her interest in animals.

This summer we’re going to fix that. She’s been asking to volunteer at The Humane Society for a few years now. I’ve put her off, because all volunteers under age 16 need to be accompanied by a parent, and I haven’t had the time. This summer I’ll make the time, though. It will be a fun mother-daughter bonding experience, and it will teach Hannah to look outside herself and help those around her. It will also give her some good work experience, even if she isn’t getting paid.


Hannah isn’t 16 yet, so she can’t get an official job. That’s probably a good thing, as jobs are still hard to come by in our area. That doesn’t mean she can’t work though. She’s old enough to babysit, and since she admits she has expensive hobbies, it will do her good to get a paying job, so she can afford her hobbies.

She doesn’t have a lot of experience with young children yet, but I’m planning on hiring her to watch our toddler part time (while I’m home), so I can get some writing done this summer. Besides giving me valuable time to work, watching our toddler as a mother’s helper will give her the experience and confidence she needs to land babysitting jobs for other people.

Taking a Class

This is not a free option, but it can be inexpensive. Community recreation programs often offer fun classes for a small fee. Our community offers classes in sports, art, music, science, and practical life skills for fees typically under $40. If Hannah gets bored this summer, I’ll consider signing her up for a class on learning to play the ukelele, beginning Spanish, or something else that catches her eye.

Summer can be a great time to learn something new…something your teen might not try during the busy school year. A little boredom can inspire great creativity, and the summer might be a good time to develop a new skill.

Your teen may not like the same things Hannah does, but he or she could still volunteer, find paid work, and take a community class. When I was Hannah’s age, I volunteered as a candy striper at our local hospital. Other options are volunteering at a community center, a church, or a homeless shelter. This year is a great year to volunteer for a political campaign too!

Paid job opportunities can include yard work, pet care, babysitting, and garage cleanup. The possibilities truly are endless, if you think outside the box. Find out what your teen is passionate about and then brainstorm ways to volunteer, get a job, or take a class around that interest.

If your teenager is interested in the work he does, chances are he will love it. And if he loves it, he won’t complain. Busy teens who don’t complain? That sounds like a great summer to me!

What will your teens be doing this summer?