Make Holiday Memories With Your Teens
For many families, the holiday season offers an opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime. Holidays give teens a chance to slow down as their time isn’t quite so divided between school, homework, extracurriculars, and friends. It may feel harder to make fond memories this year since the holidays fall during an ongoing public health pandemic. But there are still plenty of ways to connect while playing it safe at home!
Use your time off to have some fun and relax. Consider letting your inner artists, chefs, filmmakers, musicians, and designers come out to play. Making art of all types is a great stress reliever. It also encourages the expression of emotions. Help your teen re-decorate their room. Shoot a video together to post on social media. Have a “crazy mask-making contest.” Take an art class together on YouTube. Design and create homemade cards or gifts for family and friends. Work to concoct a “family favorite” music playlist. No matter your choice, concentrating on a project will help you enjoy and appreciate each other’s company. And, it’s all part of developing a positive mindset.
If food serves as inspiration, create a family cookbook. Look through old recipes together, agree on favorites, and ask your teens to add notes in the margins that will be fun to read in the years to come. Make a daily calendar of recipes and cook something new together each night in the lead-up to the holiday. Nurturing creativity in your teen may help exercise the brain while also teaching them to handle stress more effectively!
Be a Tourist in Your Own Home
While it’s generally recommended to avoid unnecessary travel to prevent exposure to COVID-19, that doesn’t mean you can’t be tourists of sorts. Family-friendly institutions and organizations worldwide have brought their attractions online, and many of them are free!
Do your teens love animals? Head to Africa and join a 45-minute live African safari with WildEarthKids. Kids and parents can interact with experts in real-time as the naturalists drive through the African wilderness, encountering wildlife. Zoos and aquariums offer online experiences, including baby animal cams, tours, and dives.
If your tween or teen is a thrill-seeker, join them in an amusement park experience from the comfort of your couch. Hershey Park offers a front-row seat on any of its 15 “mild to wild” coasters. You’ll make it through these virtual roller coaster rides regardless of whether you have a fear of heights. Follow it up with their One Sweet Minute Experiences offering spa recipes you can make at home together (chocolate caramel face-mask anyone?). Talk about making some sweet memories!
Together, you can also visit museums, art galleries, theaters, historical landmarks, and even attend concerts. Many organizations now offer online, at-home experiences.
Not into online activities, don’t have access, or need a break? You can always travel without leaving home by choosing to read books together set on other continents. Or start planning now for a trip you hope to take together in the future. If you need to get outside, head to a spot where you can walk, run, or hike while still socially distancing and wearing masks.
Get your teen to make suggestions of what they’d like to do and “go” from there. Sharing an experience in things you’ve never before seen or done may offer awe-inspiring discoveries. And experiencing the emotion of awe boosts well-being as you think about your place in the bigger world.
Give Back as a Family
The family that gives back together stays together. Ok, so maybe that’s not a famous saying, but perhaps it should be? Because giving back to others benefits those in need and is also good for your health! By guiding your teen to help others and letting them see how you contribute to your community, you can help them develop character strengths. When they help others in their community, teens build resilience. They also have a chance to see life from another person’s perspective.
Ask your teen if they have a charity or organization they feel strongly about supporting and work together to make it happen. While you may not be able to go door-to-door delivering meals, you can still gather essential supplies for those in need and drop them at a local food pantry or shelter. Call and check-in on an elderly member in your community. Send thank-you notes to a healthcare worker or first responder. Write letters or send a care package to someone in the military. VolunteerMatch posts thousands of virtual opportunities enabling you to help out from anywhere. It feels good to give to others. It feels even better when giving back as a family.
Make New Family Traditions
While this year the holidays may feel different due to the coronavirus pandemic, they still offer families the chance to invest further in relationships. Appreciate the amazing young person you have in your midst. It’s not really about what you do — it’s more about the benefits of doing something together. Take advantage of this downtime together to make new memories. Be in the moment, and create some new family traditions!