5 Ways to Keep Your Teen Busy This Summer

If you’ve got teens and tweens on your hand that just can’t get into a groove this summer, Mighty Mommy has 5 tips to help keep them on track.

Cheryl Butler
8-minute read
Episode #438

#3.  Apply for A Summer Job

There are so many reasons why a teen should get a job as soon as they are legally able to, which in most states is the age of 15 with working papers, or age 16 without. It teaches them independence, responsibility, and how to manage their own finances. I’ve found that getting a job while young prepares kids for the future. Work experience will look good on their college applications, as well as future job applications. It also helps fill up a few good hours of the 10 weeks they have free during the summer months.

There are so many different jobs your teens can do. Some examples are:

Babysitting: They can sign up for a babysitting course and get their certification to babysit.

Lifeguard: Again they can become certified to work as a lifeguard at a local community pool or at the beach.

Dog Walker: Does your teen like pets? Many people work all day and need a person that can take their dog out for a walk each afternoon. My tween daughter doe this in our neighborhood and is in high-demand!

Lawn Mowing: This is a great way for a teenager to make money, and my kids have also used these same neighbors and customers to do snow shoveling in the winter!

Cashier/Stocker: Stock shelves, help customers find merchandise, and ring them up at checkout. Many of today’s kids don’t even know how to count back change (which I think is a small crime!) because the electronic registers do everything for them, so that makes being a cashier even easier.

Fast Food: My first “real” job after babysitting was working in a fast-food pizza joint. I have the best memories from working at this place. I worked for two great managers, and within a year, I was promoted to an assistant manager, which taught me a whole new set of responsibilities. Also I earned lots more money to put away for college and my first car.

Zoo/Aquarium Assistant: If you’ve got a zoo nearby, you’ve got job opportunities. Zoos hire teens for seasonal jobs ranging from “landscape attendant” to “young docents.” You probably won’t have access to the elephant’s living area, but then again, someone needs to clean up after them!

Movie Theater Worker: Take tickets, serve popcorn, clean popcorn off the floor, and become very familiar with all the summer hits. 

Camp Counselor: Sing camp songs, teach crafts, and become a kid’s hero for the summer. These positions tend to be popular, so if you missed the application period for this summer, put it on your to-do list for next year. 

#4.  Set a Summer Goal

The weeks of summer vacation are a wonderful opportunity to set one or two personal goals or goals for the upcoming school year or for an athletic team they might be playing on.  I read a wonderful article, Smart Goal Setting for Teens that I printed and shared with my own kids.  One of their tips was to make goal setting as engaging as possible because as we know, our tweens and teens do have many distractions—electronics, crushes and dating, hanging out with friends, getting lazy on the couch watching TV and many more.

Here are the points the article made to effectively help your teen work on his/her own personal goals:

  • Make it a game – Use goals in healthy competition. Challenge teens to achieve their goal(s) prior to you achieving yours. Find something they’d really like and use it as a bonus (try not to make it material – a good reward is more privileges such as a later curfew). Trust me, if your teen can set and accomplish goals, that’s a great indicator of trustworthiness.
  • Make it a group activity – It can be helpful to include additional friends and family members in the process. It may be challenging trying to get your teen to open up in larger groups, but if you can, this can dramatically heighten their engagement and the impact of goal-setting.
  • Start with a bucket list – Creating a list of things he or she wants to do in life is a great way to engage and excite your teen about the ways goal-setting can help.
  • Graduation speech – Thinking about major upcoming events like giving a graduation speech can be extremely impactful and emotional for your teens. A great way to start a goal-setting discussion is for them to imagine speaking to all their friends and family about what’s important to them and what they’ve accomplished. This organically helps them start the process of understanding what is important and where they need to focus their goals. It can also be a great tool for building intrinsic motivation, as many kids have a hard time conceiving life beyond the next 24 hours.
  • Use visual aids and technology – It can be very helpful to think beyond the pad and pencil. So many tools exist today that allow us to express ourselves. Many people create dream boards and set goals on Pinterest and other social media sites. Through these sites, they can express their goals through pictures, video, music and imagery. Consider utilizing the multitude of apps that exist today that make goal setting much more engaging. Or you can always go back to the basics with poster board and let them cut up magazines to create dream boards and set goals for realizing them. This can be a useful visual that hangs on the wall as a constant reminder of where they should be spending their time and focus.

#5.  Volunteering

Volunteering offers numerous benefits to those involved, but can also be a life-changing experience when it becomes a permanent part of your children’s lives.  With more down time during the summer months, your tweens and teens can get involved with an organization that holds interest to them, like an animal shelter or as a mother’s helper to a family in the neighborhood that has young kids home and underfoot all summer long.

Here are a few ideas to get you started looking for that perfect volunteering opportunity. Remember that you don’t have to volunteer at a major facility or organization. There are hundreds of smaller, more focused volunteer opportunities available no matter where you live.

  • Community Volunteering – Check out your local museums and libraries for child volunteer programs. You can also search for local food pantries to help stock, prepare, and/or serve the food to the needy. Or, you could seek out local retirement facilities where your child could visit the elderly and help out around the facility. (My kids visit a local nursing home once a week and they love it!) Older people have time on their hands to listen to younger people, while we parents don’t always have that kind of extra time.
  • Volunteering to Help Animals – Does your child love animals? If so, there are many opportunities out there. Give a call to your local Humane Society. They are usually excited to bring in volunteers who can help with the animals or simply provide some temporary companionship. You may also think about calling your local Wildlife Foundation for information on their volunteer programs.
  • Sponsor Someone Special – There are programs available to let you sponsor a family, a soldier, or another child who is in need of help in some way. This will not take a lot of time, but can bring so much joy and happiness to the lives of everyone involved. Our school has a pen pal program for students to write to soldiers overseas. My brother and nephew serve in the U.S. Army overseas, and they often tell me about how much happiness those letters bring to them and their troops.

How does your teen stay busy in the summer?  Share your thoughts with us in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page, or email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com.

Also visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.