Keep your teen busy during the holiday

Holiday time is most definitely a time of investing into our teenagers. Having time with them is a scarce and precious commodity which we like to use to the utmost. Our motivation when planning for holidays will certainly be “Buying out the time”.

As a family, we’ve always had a bucket list which gets updated as time goes by. This normally happens when we have a family meeting. During this time, we dream together, exchange ideas of what we still want to do and accomplish and this then serves as our inspirational guide. Things on our bucket list include new places to see, road trips to take, hiking trails to do, experiences yet not had, new skills to be learned or new cultural encounters. Teenagers most certainly wants to be part of the decision making process. A family bucket list allows just that.

In our planning we also include spending time with other people and being a blessing to them. Visiting family members or old friends (maybe including that into our road trip if they stay far from us?) or inviting people over for say a games evening. Doing community and missionary work also falls into this category. Allowing (and sponsoring) our children to go on youth missions/outreaches have been some of the most rewarding investments ever. There they, amongst other things, bond with like-minded friends, attain new skills, learn to serve others and come back so much more thankful for their own lives. Who wouldn’t want that for their teenager?

Relaxation is also an important ingredient of our holidays. Different members of our family relax in different ways. The one wants to do creative activities, the other one wants to climb a mountain, the other one wants to sleep and the yet another one wants to play games. We need to make room for each one’s unique need. School terms are jam-packed with activities and stress abounds everywhere in our lives. We need to allow time for unwinding. In this age of information overload, we sometimes need to go to remote places where there is no cell phone reception or wifi. We will do our families a favour.

Connecting as a family is high on our priority list when it comes to holidays. The teenage years are challenging one’s and your teen will need lots of support, love and guidance. We therefore create opportunities for lots of communication. (Think time around the fireplace.) Each family member gets an opportunity to share their highs and lows of the previous term. The others listen, ask questions and empathize or rejoice with each other. We don’t allow judgmentalism, criticizing or drawing comparisons. The focus must always be a positive one. We then allow time to build each other up. Each one is given an opportunity to share positive things about the others. Things like, “It was such a blessing when you made me a cup of tea when I had that frustrating day last week. You have no idea what it meant to me.” We make sure that each one is being affirmed.

Holidays are also the perfect time to develop our teenagers’ skills. Use these not-so-busy times to practice their food skills. Let them plan and shop for healthy food, make sure they know how to read food labels, let them prepare meals and set the table. Let them work on their wellness and appearance skills. Encourage exercise and physical fitness, personal grooming, washing and folding of clothes and basic sewing. Allow them to develop their entrepreneurial skills. Let them make things, advertise things, sell things. Prepare and equip your teenager for life.

We make sure our holidays have a healthy mix of bucket list activities, being-a-blessing-to-others opportunities, family connecting times, relaxation moments and skills development activities. We are well aware of the fact that the time for investing into our teenagers are running out. That’s why we purposely buy out the time with them.


Liezel Steytler is a Evergreen Facilitator in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa.