Three things you can count on beginning December 26: overflowing trash, the end of Christmas music on the radio, and middle schoolers whining, “I’m so booooooored!”
For a non-driving young teen, these days away from school stretch endlessly, even with so many ways to connect electronically with friends. Their misery multiplies if parents have to work, leaving them home with only the TV, computer, and game system for entertainment. Many parents don’t want their kids spending all day in cyberspace, but they don’t know how to prevent it.
While screen time isn’t totally avoidable, parents should still sit down with their teens and agree upon limits for gaming time and for allowable TV shows and websites. Just be aware that limits are hard to enforce from the workplace, especially if there aren’t siblings to police each other.
One good option is to leave a list of chores to be completed before getting on any electronics. Here’s your chance to get bathrooms scrubbed, floors vacuumed, and bedrooms cleaned! (If you come home from work to find chores unfinished, just pack the computer/game system power cords to work with you the next day.)
Be aware that sometimes a complaint of boredom is a way of guilting you into giving permission for an activity you don’t usually allow, like hanging out at the mall for hours. Don’t let your guard down; teens are manipulative creatures!
My personal favorite solution for Christmas Break Doldrums is to share time with another teen’s parents. Send yours over to their house for a couple of days, and then return the favor. This way they get a break from home – and you get a break from the whining.