TGIF – there’s a reason this phrase incites a dose of relief among kids and adults everywhere. But for many students, the weekend is hardly the vacation of relaxation and freedom they would hope for. Often it becomes a dumping ground for everything that they didn’t get done during the week, from chores to school projects to catching some zzzzs.
Great weekends that are a balance of work and play don’t just happen. They need to be planned. As you and your teen sit down for a few minutes to map out the weekend, here are some elements you should include to ensure the weekend isn’t wasted:
- Fun: It’s easier for kids to cope with their crazy midweek schedule if they know there’s something fun and relaxing waiting for them. That could be a Friday night basketball game, dance or movie with friends; just remember that it’s vital to make sure that they have something to look forward to.
- Down time: After their hectic school week, help them refrain from scheduling every minute of their weekend, too. Even if all these activities they have planned sound fun, see if you can coax them into spending some time at home. Make sure they’ve got plenty of sleep time planned – though not too much. Sleeping all Saturday and Sunday can mess with their circadian rhythms and make it that much harder to get going on Monday.
- Family time: Whether it’s sister’s lacrosse game on Saturday morning, a family dinner on Saturday night, religious services on Sunday morning or some sort of combo, make sure they spend some time relaxing and having fun with the family.
- Stuff they HAVE to do: Sorry, it has to be said. Weekends quite likely include chores, a paid job and Have them make a list of all their homework and studying responsibilities, and how long they think each will take them so they can plan a block of time to work on them and not have them hanging over their head.
- Balance: If they have a busy Saturday lined up, suggest they make Saturday night a quiet evening at home. Or, if they will be out late Saturday evening, have them block in some recharging time Sunday afternoon.
- Sunday Surprise: It doesn’t have to be a big surprise, but do pay special attention to Sunday evenings. This can be one of the most depressing moments of the week, when teens realize that they have a ton of work left to do, and that Monday and a full week is right around the corner. Even adults get the Sunday night blues, so consider that a time that the whole family does something fun, whether it’s trying a new recipe, catching up on your American Idol viewing or even seeing a movie together. Work with your teen to make sure that they’ve found some other times to do homework so that Sunday isn’t one big boring study session.
Want more ideas for planning a great weekend? Author Laura Vanderkam, who writes about time management, has an eBook on “What Successful People do on the Weekend.” It might be a great resource for your family!