I was asked to speak live on BBC Hereford and Worcester yesterday morning, regarding the amount of money it supposedly costs to entertain children in the summer holidays - if you click the link I'm 41 minutes in. After a recent poll was conducted among 1,000 parents of 16-17-year olds, the findings were that in just one week alone, in the summer holidays, parents were spending an average of £103.11p per child. Obviously, I was more than willing to share my thoughts on the matter and help people to realise they don't need to be forking out huge amounts to keep teenagers from being - I hate this word - BORED.
My first thoughts were, why aren't these teenagers working and earning their own money? That's the first thing my daughter wanted to do as soon as she was old enough. She's 17 and been working since she was 14. Half of the battle is solved when they realise the value of money. How are they expected to do that when it's not been earned? They need to know, they can't always have everything and learning to deal with disappointment is essential. After all, if they've never been told no, or turned down how will they cope when they don't get that job they apply for at 26? Have a crying fit and stamp their feet?
Obviously, I'm not suggesting sending the teenagers out to work all summer, while constantly refusing to do anything with them. I am a great believer in having fun too and spending quality time together as a family. I believe families are becoming gradually more disconnected, and it's so sad to think that meals around the table, everyone watching a film together or even conversations are becoming things of the past. There are two ways you can have fun with your teenagers this summer - or any ages for that matter.
Firstly: Take them back to your childhood.
I'm sick of hearing the phrase, "back in our day we did this *insert some outdoor pastime here*" Instead of telling them what you used to do - show them! Do the things you used to do, go biking, swimming, go-kart building. Free your inner child! It's a great way to bond and reconnect with them. I'm not saying they won't say that dreaded 'B' word, but give it a go what have you got to lose other than a game of Kerby?
Secondly: Let them bring you into their world.
No, I don't mean the toxic dump that is their room - I wouldn't wish that on anyone - but if they love to play on the X-Box, have a go with them. Are they constantly watching Youtube videos? Find out who their favourite Youtuber is and have a go at making a video together. Try making an animated movie with toys, or doing a blindfolded make-up challenge, where one of you is in charge of putting the slap on the other one but you can't see what you're doing.
After all that, of course you are going to want to go on family days out together and if you can afford a treat then great. If money's a bit tighter for you, then watch out for offers, voucher codes and coupons. Check out Wowcher and Groupon (not a sponsored post I might add.) Local papers and radio stations sometimes have offers on family attractions. If you only have a set amount for days out, tell the children how much you have and let them budget for the day out. Make it a challenge.
Whatever you do I hope you have a great stress-free summer. If not, there's always gin?