Work + Learn + Play = Formula for Surviving Spring Break with a Teen

I am in the land of teens now. It is full of landmines and shocking discoveries that I’ve only begun to experience. Spring Break is one of those landmines. My 14-year-old is a danger to himself and my bank account if I don’t have a plan. He will make plans to spend money and time with friends in places that will shock my world. You want me to drive you and three friends to the outlets in San Marcos, drop you off, and you need how much money? It’s “more fun” to walk along the I-35 access road in the dark to get a slurpee at the 7-11 than to have Mom drive you? You want to spend the night with a kid I’ve never heard you mention before this minute? Spring Break is seven days of these dangers. And more. My survival plan is the formula “Work + Learn + Play.”


My son has developed a love of money—mainly my money, but money in general. He does get an allowance, but his expenditures exceed his income. So I plan on providing him with opportunities to earn money. I have a bedroom that needs to be painted. Yes, I’ll be there to supervise. But it will get done faster with the two of us doing it. Also, he is taller than I am now and he can reach farther. Yay for me producing a helpful entity!

My garage also needs cleaning. Things need to be lifted and moved. It will be good to have a strong, teenage boy to help me. Of course my husband and I could do it…but then how would I sneak my husband’s junk into the recycling container? Also, I’m not a fan of bugs and spiders. When he was a a little boy, he made me deal with creepy crawlies. But now it will be his turn!

Also? We have yard work to do. We moved into this house two years ago and have been riding the coattails of the previous owner’s impressive yard work. I guess it’s time to actually do something ourselves. Hedges need to be trimmed, and it might be time to remove those dead plants in the front. I might even try a flower bed. Maybe. I say this is a win-win situation. My son can choose which task to do to earn money, and I can get things done.


Although I shudder to think about it, my son wants to learn to drive. He has been hounding my husband and me to take him somewhere where he can get behind the wheel. I think I’ll be sending my husband out to do this one while I watch some Netflix. Hey, I will have already supervised the painting/yard work/cleaning. Parenting is all about sharing the happy moments…or something like that. I’ll be sharing the location of that driving lesson on social media so that everyone else can remain safe.

My son also needs to learn to type if he wants to survive out in the world. His average typing speed is way below his texting speed, and his teachers and future professors will thank me for harping on him to improve the former. His handwriting is atrocious, so typing is doubly important. There are various free typing programs on the internet that qualify “fun learning.” I’ll try to sell it that way to my son, but somehow I don’t think he’ll be buying it. I need to stay strong on this point, but I’m sure Typing Tutor during Spring Break is going to meet resistance. May the Force be with me.

I plan on having my kids cook one meal during this long week of never-ending hunger and binge eating. This definitely falls under learning in my book. My kids will need to plan the meal, purchase ingredients, and then cook. I also require that they work together without yelling at each other. OK, OK, I’m dreaming now. But my children definitely need to learn to feed themselves. Also, cooking also requires cleaning. I am smiling now as I write this. I’m going to love whatever meal they provide!


The “Play” part of the plan involves time with friends but also with family. If I left my teen to his own devices, I would see very little of him. He’d either just hang with friends or hole up in his bedroom—which, by the way, is so disgustingly dirty, I don’t know how anyone could willingly stay in there. (Note to self: add that to the “Work” plan for Spring Break.) But I digress…

My son is trying to improve his tennis game and has been asking to go to the gym, so I am going to schedule a playdate—er, get-together—for him to play tennis with his friend. I can also get a friend pass at our gym so he can invite a friend to go work out with him. I’m proud of myself for thinking of this one! FREE activities that are healthy and allow him to hang with his friends. I can actually drive them to the gym and—gasp!—work out, too. I need to make sure to go to the opposite side of the gym as to not to embarrass anyone—for his sake, but mine as well.

My son missed a few movies at the theater, and I know a movie theater that plays second-run movies. For a mere $2.50, he can go to the movies and I can still afford to provide popcorn and a drink. I usually don’t suggest this theater because it’s not close to my house, but it’s Spring Break! Time to live a little. This is probably another friend activity, as most movies he’s interested in are not exactly appropriate for my eight-year-old daughter. But I will be crossing my fingers that I can find a movie my girl and I can watch in a adjoining theater room.

I know that there will be a sleepover at some point. I’ll try to combine it with one of those above mentioned activities. A bored teen is not fun; a group of two or more bored teens is trouble.

Family play time will involve a game night, a hike at a new park, and a small day trip. We might throw in a classic movie night at home or a trip to a local museum. There will definitely be some eating out and an ice cream/sweets outing.

“Work + Learn + Play” is my action plan to survive this new land of teen Spring Break. It might not go exactly as planned, but I will still be sticking to the formula. If it all works, my son will be busy, safe, and having fun. I will be smiling smugly…until I realize that three months of summer are right around the corner!

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