I always find the summer vacation a bit paradoxal. On the one hand I love the easiness, freedom and no-pressure attitude, but on the other hand the children have too much free time on their hands and crave to be entertained 24/7.

I take full-time care of the girls since their Dad moved to the UK after our divorce a few years ago. As a working mama I have to balance between my work and keeping my teens busy and productive during the summer break. So how do I do that it with part entertainment, bit of relaxing and some piece of action?

Here are some of my tips:

1. Connect with your teen by teaching them how to cook and bake.

Never underestimate the power of cooking together! I’ve cooked and baked with the girls from a young age and even though my kitchen looked more like a flour mill when baking cupcakes, it is all worth it!
You in particular strengthen the bond with your teen as you’re both working towards a mutual goal. Most teens are eager to learn a new skill and love to show that off!

Fear of failure can often be a reason not to start learning how to cook, so let them pick any recipe as this means they have the desire and faith in themselves to be able to fully prepare it.

Encourage them to develop independency and responsibility by letting them list and buy the ingredients themselves. Just remember to relax in the kitchen and don’t argue over perfecting the dish; this activity is meant to be fun and the best part is to show them how proud you are when they’ve finished their culinary creation!

Bon appetit!


2. Have a picknick

We love spontaneous picnics on a hot summer day! All you need is food, drinks and a picnic blanket. This is a great opportunity to relax and unwind the cheap way!

Picnics are always a great bonding experience as in this fast-paced, urban lifestyle of today there is often limited time for relaxing small talks. You connect by just simply keeping each other updated on what is going on in each other lives with some background music coming out of your mobile phone.

I love the feeling of grass between my toes and somehow nature encourages us to do physical activities. Picnics are a great excuse to do handstands and yoga/Pilates moves. You can teach them your football or baseball skills or just play badminton together.

Picnics is about simple happiness: we completely relax as it relieves stress by just lying in the sun, sharing the joy of spotting clouds shapes or just watch the sunset at the end of the day with your family….

3. Plan a movie night with your teen.

I’m a huge fan of this activity and do it all year around! Nothing cosier than cuddling with my girls up on the couch with soft drinks and a big bowl of popcorn!

I love watching those cheesy movies again that I used to watch as teenager- think Top Gun – and to share my nostalgic feelings about them. It makes us connect on teen level!

You would think retro movies can’t beat the ‘nowadays high tech special effects’ movies, but Spielberg’s kids blockbuster ‘The Goonies’ and the famous 80’s movie ‘The Breakfast Club’ has a spot in their top 5 Favourites!

It’s important to keep an open mind though and let your teen pick a couple selections, too. You might get to appreciate movies like The Hunger Games or Divergent! I certainly do!

4. Get involved in outdoor activities.

Is your teen glued to his gadgets and gizmos? Take them outdoors! It could be anything from playing football in the park to river rafting. Not only does this bond you with your teen, it’s also a good way to learn to appreciate and to connect with nature. Very often physical activity is involved that give you and your teen an euphoric feeling when happiness hormones are released in your bodies. Nothing can beat the feeling of pure satisfaction!

We ourselves love to go to the beach and one of the girls favorite activity is Stand-Up-Paddle boarding (SUP). From a young age they’ve been crazy about water and swimming, and Supping is a great combination of water and an intense work out! It demands physical strength and at the end of the day the girls are so exhausted, going straight to bed is the only thing on their mind!


5. Visit the city by bike

The Netherlands is famous for their generous bike paths and their relaxed biking culture. We live near Rotterdam, the second biggest city in the Netherlands and the bike is a great way to discover the known and unknown spots.

You bond by planning and working out the route on where to go and how to get there. Their is something special about biking in the city. You just immerse yourself in the vibe of the city. Your senses are working overtime as you have to mind the traffic, hear the city noise, feel the wind through your hair and have great conversations with your teen.

This activity has great benefits:

* It’s cheap
* It’s healthy
* It has environmental benefits
* You go on an adventure to places you can’t get to by car
* You don’t have to look for a parking spot when you just want a coffee or ice cream, awesome!

This activity should be fun, so you laugh about getting lost and on how you find your way back to the planned route on your own pace. So get your bike out of the shed and let’s get biking!

We all have busy lives, but spending time with your teen in the summer is an essential period to bond. I hope some of these activities will help you to get you and your teen through the summer so you can share the #familyspirit!

How do you like to keep your teen entertained in the summer?