By Staff Writer
Teenagers everywhere are anxiously awaiting a break from the daily grind of school, homework and tests. But going into winter break without a plan vastly increases the chances that your teens will use their free time to get into trouble.
Here are a few ways your teens can make productive use of their winter vacation:
Earn Spending Money. Although winter break isn't long enough to get a "real" job, many teens make a little extra spending money by babysitting, shoveling snow off driveways or helping others clean house after the holidays. These odd jobs will keep your teens occupied and make them less dependent on you for all of their expenses without making winter break one big chore.
Volunteer. There's no time like the holidays to give back to those in need. Local soup kitchens, churches, food banks and hospitals are always in need of a helping hand. Your teens can also get involved with a toy drive or adopt-a-family-in-need program, or raise money for a cause close to their heart.
Get Organized. In the past few months, hectic schedules and school stress have probably contributed to your teens' room looking more like a jungle than a study area. As new gifts come in with the holidays, encourage your teens to donate the clothes, books and other belongings they no longer use. A thorough reorganization and cleaning will help ensure the next semester gets off to a good start.
Spend Time as a Family. The holidays are a busy time for everyone, but they're also an ideal time for family bonding. Schedule family game night, movie night or an evening of games in the park, and make sure everyone makes it a priority to be there. If your extended family lives nearby, winter break provides a rare opportunity for your teens to get to know their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins a little better.
Go to Camp. Not all families look forward to winter break. For some teens, the added stress of the holiday season and the lack of daily structure, combined with the extra time spent at home with their family, make it prime time for acting out. During school vacations, many teens experiment with drugs or alcohol, go to unsupervised parties and get into heated arguments with their parents and other relatives. Instead of worrying for your teens' safety or simply hoping this year will be different from the last, consider the benefits of enrolling your teens in a wilderness therapy program:
There are dozens of ways to make winter break both productive and enjoyable, but one thing is for sure: A busy teen is a happy teen, so start making plans now.