Dealing with older teens stuck at home
March 13, 2020 2:39 PM   Subscribe

In the time of Corona, who's got all the hot tips for being stuck at home with older teens? My 16yo will happily game all day...but will eventually get super bored and also desperate to move his body around. I was thinking of doing a park meetup with some other boys, so they can run around and be maniacs for an hour, without touching each other. Is that nuts? What else can I/they do?

All of their usual favorite things are canceled or off limits -- going to one boy's house to hang out, going to the movies, going to a local hangout area, etc. Mine is antsy, and the lockdown period is just starting. School just got canceled, so there will be a minimum of 2 weeks of distance learning happening.

Feels like there are probably some good ideas for kids in the 16/17 range that won't be the same as the littler kids' stuff.

posted by BlahLaLa to Human Relations (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Well, this is what I was told:

"To your grandparents it was asked for them to go to war, you are being asked to sit on your couch.
Think about it carefully and act accordingly.

I wouldn't arrange any sort of meeting with anyone. This is just the reality we're going to have to deal with. Nobody likes it, nobody wants to do it, but that's just the way it is.
posted by Tarsonis10 at 3:00 PM on March 13 [26 favorites]

Is yard care or home improvement applicable to your situation? Even if not, how about a cleaning project? Or teach them to make or repair clothes. There are a zillion craft channels on YouTube. They could learn a new language (verbal, coding, sign), plan a daily workout routine, or learn how to cook a new recipe. Challenge them to find some kind of object around the house that they can improve in some way (polish a banister, paint a vase, decorate a light switch cover).
posted by mezzanayne at 3:29 PM on March 13 [6 favorites]

Does he already have his driver's license? If not, he could get in a lot of driving practice with you. Maybe he could get really, really good at parallel parking.

Does he like to cook? Or is he at least willing to do some cooking? You could make sure he's assigned to cook dinner for the family at least a night or two a week. If he really enjoys cooking, you could encourage him to experiment with some new recipes.

Maybe you could talk him into starting a couch to 5K program, or the two of you could do it together. Does he have a bike? If there's no good place to ride right in your neighborhood, is there a bike trail you could drive him to?
posted by Redstart at 3:44 PM on March 13 [9 favorites]

Take up juggling or whittling or learn to throw a playing card into a watermelon. Learn to walk on stilts or start a fire with a bow or make a kite. Fighter kites in particular are sort of like a video game and may be a hit, happy to provide more info if you need it.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:12 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]

Are they very capable? Do they have skills for living in a down or on their own within a couple years?

I'm planning on teaching my 12 year old how to make more meals for himself, have him practice more laundry, run on the treadmill with his Ipad if he wants to watch youtube videos, tie dye, bake bread, make fresh pasta, and watch a few documentaries.
posted by beccaj at 4:59 PM on March 13 [5 favorites]

Has he ever changed a tire? Learning how to do that and practicing it a few times would be useful.

If he does have his license, you could make sure to take advantage of that by sending him out to run errands instead of doing them yourself. If you're not sure he can do it without getting lost or buying the wrong thing, all the better. It will take up more of his time and he'll end up learning something and getting more capable. If he can't drive he might be bored enough that he'd be willing to walk or ride his bike to run errands, if there are stores that are close enough.
posted by Redstart at 5:17 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]

Would he babysit for money and do your neighbors need help? NPR reports that’s one on one visits are ok and working parents with school closures could probably use the help: Link.

It might be fun for him to break out some old toys or games to play with a youngster.
posted by CMcG at 6:26 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]

I am seeing people outside. In my neighborhood they are walking or jogging in pairs but at a safe distance from each other. I actually don't think going outside is bad YET (though I bet that gets taken away within what, a week), but can you trust the kids to keep their distance from each other? I say this because I also saw tons of sports being played outside today, frat parties, etc. and nobody there was restraining themselves.

I don't think I'd say that in-person meetings with friends is a good idea if they're not going to maintain distance. But solo exercise might still be an option for now.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:27 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]

I have a freshman in high school, we have been out of school for over a week now, and won't be returning to school until April 27th. I'm in WA state so everything is shut down - libraries, museums, anyplace people of more than 250 could congregate. Here is what we brainstormed in order to keep up the social connections in his peer group. A lot of these activities require a phone or computer/tablet with video calling ability, or at least texting ability.

-setting up a time to play chess with a friend, they video call each other and tell each other moves
-a groupchat and they decide a movie to watch together (so far it's been marvel, marvel, and oh, MORE MARVEL). my son likes it because they can make snarky comments or observations together
-a video chat where they played Exploding Kittens together. We had the game and made the moves for everyone. IMO, this would have worked better if everyone had the game and could see their own cards, or there was a Game Master who didn't interact.
-biking around the neighborhood. walks and hikes are nixed, because too many people together in one area.
-meeting up with friends to do mountain biking on trails
-collaborative art project (digital). they all made a picture, then sent it to the group. everyone tweaks someone else's picture with their take on it.
-"cooking" lessons via video chat. my son taught them how to roll spring rolls. someone else taught them how to pour cereal.
-art projects like rock painting, then going someplace and "hiding" them for someone else to find.

I hope some of these ideas help!
posted by alathia at 7:07 PM on March 13 [7 favorites]

Nothing that could lead to an emergency room visit.
So with that in mind...

Outside --
Start a gardening project. Plant flowers and vegetables, with seeds or cuttings. Prune bushes and trees, and use some of the branches to start new plants. Dig and divide bulbs. Mow and trim the yard. Set up a raised bed. Improve drainage after heavy rains. Design a layout (to be built later) for watering, a lighting system, etc. Plan an outdoor living area or kitchen. Rummage through storage sheds and corners of the backyard and throw out the trash.
It might be a bit much to grab the shovels and wheelbarrows and build a concrete slab for the barbecue, but a rock edging around the hedges is a possibility. Maybe neighbors have some gravel they would like to get rid of.

Put your hands in your pockets and take a walk. Put band-aids on your index fingers to remind you not to touch your face. Bring the hand sanitizer and a couple of bandannas to handle things. While you are at it, bring a couple of plastic bags for trash.
A couple of circuits around the block are better than having car trouble miles from home (if you are comfortable in your neighborhood). Say hi to the neighbors, from a distance. Better yet, take a companion and enjoy the serenity of a slow walk, no non-stop talking necessary.
Bikes, skateboards and roller skates are fine, if your neighborhood is set up for that. Remember the helmets and padding. Bring the cell phone in case of an emergency (like a flat tire or a broken skate).
posted by TrishaU at 11:41 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]

Get him a copy of “Convict Conditioning”; The problem of staying strong and fit while physically confined without access to a gym has been solved.

There isn’t an ounce of glorification of “prison life” in the book. It’s written by a guy who did a combined 17 years of federal time (drug trafficking, not violence) and had to get that strong to survive a particularly horrible, predatory environment. “Coach” is very much:
Prison sucks, and it is a place you want to stay out of, but there are very solid workout techniques that require nothing but your own body which have been refined in that crucible.
Plus, its a workout he can take with him after he gets sprung from quarantine.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:36 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]

This could be a great time to hold an "Adult Living Skills marathon". Teach them how to show and get good deals, the difference between a lease and a rental agreement, how to balance a checkbook & create a budget, talk about interest (both paying interest and earning interest - i.e., compound interest is sorta magical), how to change a tire and pick an honest tradesman, how to fold laundry and cook a meal. There are a thousand other things we want our kids to have a handle on before they're out on their own. Make it fun and get them prepared. It can create great memories!
posted by summerstorm at 8:51 AM on March 14

Seconding the adult skills idea. Maybe gamify it: get a notebook or something ‘special’ and make a ‘list of attainments’ together. Some of them you add, some he adds. Then cross them off as you do them.
posted by ficbot at 9:19 AM on March 14

also, check to see if there are any drive-ins near you. a mom friend of mine sent out an email with drive ins located near us, and we're going to see if we can have a drive-in "playdate". with your kids being older, it's something they could do themselves.
posted by alathia at 11:35 AM on March 14

If you want to use alathia’s distance gaming suggestions, try Vassal Engine. In most cases, one involved party needs to own a copy of the game you’re playing, but that’s it.
posted by verbminx at 1:07 PM on March 14

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