Being an elementary teacher and a mother to three kids who are 7 and under, entertainment comes easy. Whether it’s made up on the spot or planned in advance, their natural energy and excitement for almost anything makes it easy to wing it and keep them busy for hours.
Seeking amusement for teenagers is arguable more of a challenge. With their fluctuating emotions and “know it all” mentality, I was slightly worried about having a houseful when my older sister initially told me she planned to come visit. Bringing my two nieces and two nephews, now between ages 12 to 19, I held back tears as they walked through my front door and almost towered over me with mature voices, facial hair, and arched eyebrows. It was evident, they weren’t small anymore and certainly not anywhere near the ages of the little ones I have now.
As the host, I usually like to have at least a couple ideas of things we could do or places we could go. Since life itself has been so overwhelming lately with my own crew, I wasn’t able to come up with a super cute and thoughtful itinerary. Surprisingly, I didn’t even need it. The four teenagers in my house over the weekend had a blast doing things that I thought they would find boring or lame. All of it being what some would consider “old school.” Here are some examples:
- Look at Old Photos – There is nothing more entertaining than seeing old pics of your grandma, aunts, uncles and parents who thought they looked good in their dated outfits. Throw in old home movies to go back in time for even more of an embarrassing treat!
- Play Board Games – Considering that most of their time is spent on a phone, computer or tablet, actually playing a board game is somewhat unusual. It’s a great way to bring all ages together for laughs and a good friendly competition. Recommendations: Twister, Clue, Guess Who, and Life.
- Watch Old Movies – Introduce a little nostalgia with a movie that was made decades before their time. Not only would they be intrigued by the music, fashion and art, they may actually become interested in the story line!
- Entertain the Younger Kids – Now that they aren’t sitting at the kid table anymore, they seem to enjoy taking care of or playing with the younger ones. Whether it’s playing in each other’s hair or battling in a video game, teens seem to find joy in doing things again that they don’t do anymore.
- Go Outside – These days, kids just don’t go outside like they used to. Break out the bikes, sidewalk chalk, trampoline, kites and frisbees and enjoy a few hours getting some Vitamin D.
- Take a Day Trip – Although some teenagers are driving now, they won’t pass up the opportunity to hop in and ride along for a day trip out of town. Even if there is no actual destination, getting out and sightseeing is always a plus.
- Learn Family History – Now that they’re old enough to understand, digging deep into family history allows them to know their roots, ancestors and where they come from. This is an opportunity not only to bond, but to connect the dots on how life as they know it came to be.
At the end of the day, teenagers are still kids that are just transitioning into adult bodies and adult life. Although things are totally different now than they were for us at that age, allow them a chance to explore old school activities and ideas. If nothing else, they’ll be grateful for the experiences.