14 things every parent of a teenager needs to stock up on before summer hits

Adobe | Monkey Business

Teenagers are not quite adults, but no longer little kids. That doesn’t mean they are any less excited about the premise of summer vacation. However, it does mean that their idea of summer fun has likely changed.

Keeping your teen from getting bored over break takes some planning and preparation. If you’re looking to occupy them once school ends, check out these ideas. They’ll encourage your kids to get out, get playing, and get doing.

Backyard Gear

Encourage some playfulness in your teen by stocking up on fun stuff for summer (and we’re not talking video games). Build a stash of objects that encourage outdoor activity, such as Frisbees, water balloons, cornhole boards, beanbags or other fun yard games. Or how about a big-ticket item such as a trampoline? Invite some friends or get out and play together as a family.

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Job Supplies

If your teen would like to raise some cash over the summer — or if you are trying to instill the value of hard-earned money — you could provide the necessities for a small business. This can be anything from a lawnmower to buckets and sponges for washing cars. Let him use house cleaning supplies, gardening tools, or kitchen equipment. Consider the types of tasks your child excels at (or at least doesn’t hate). Then, help him become an entrepreneur!

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Camping Equipment

You are never too old or too cool to enjoy the great outdoors. Collecting camping necessities, such as a tent, sleeping bags, a BBQ grill and backpacks might encourage your child to disconnect from tech (at least somewhat) and reconnect with nature — and with you!  Plan a trip or just set up a site in your backyard.

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Garage Sale Materials

Your garage, attic and bedrooms are likely filled with items you and your child don’t use anymore. Inspire her to earn some quick cash by organizing a yard sale! Grab all your unwanted goods, pick up some signs (or poster board if she wants to DIY them), stick on pricing labels and help your teenager declutter while fighting boredom. This is an activity that’ll take days to plan depending on how involved you want to get, so it’s perfect for curing summertime idleness.

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Cooking Supplies

Strengthen important life skills while inspiring creativity (and perhaps lighten your own load around the house) by motivating your teen to experiment in the kitchen. Charge your child with making dinner once a week and make sure he has everything he needs to feed the family. Alternatively, sign up for a meal delivery plan to help your teen get more comfortable in the kitchen. Let your offspring discover the satisfaction of serving a delicious dish!

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Garden Tools

Stock up on seeds, mulch, tools and other gardening supplies to inspire your teen to grow food or flowers. Gardening is beneficial to your health and the environment. It can also be an effective way to reduce stress. There are a surprising number of veggies you can plant in your summer garden, such as cucumbers, squash and tomatoes.

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Whether your teen will spend time poolside, working in the sun or just hanging out with friends outdoors, protection from the sun is a must. Sunburns during the teenage years increase a person’s lifetime risk of melanoma. Stock up on quality sunscreen and make sure to toss any bottles that have expired.

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Folding Chairs

Pick up some portable folding chairs the next time you are shopping. Keep them easily accessible. Your teen can grab one and go to check out outdoor summer concerts, watch friends or siblings in sporting events or simply lounge with a book in the backyard.


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Ice Cream Maker

Everybody enjoys a cool, sweet treat on a summer day. Persuade your teen to do more than laze on the couch with an Otter Pop by getting supplies for homemade goodies. Make sure you have an ice cream maker and plenty of ingredients on hand — like sugar, cream, milk and vanilla extract. Or keep it simple and just use an old-fashioned popsicle mold and juice.



Summer slide is real. One way to thwart it is by getting your teen to read over summer vacay. Create a stockpile of books that your child might enjoy. Place them around the house, preferably near comfy spots. Lead by example as well, by making sure your teen sees you reading frequently. Go to the library often!

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Handcrafting Supplies

Making something with your hands has numerous benefits for all ages. Crafting inspires imagination and self-expression. It can teach life skills, prevent stress or boredom and even instill self-confidence. Set out items that might pique your teen’s interest, such as yarn and needles, a woodburning kit or a calligraphy set. You might even try using a Cricut machine, if you want to up your game.

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Stationery, Postcards and Stamps

Handwritten letters might be a thing of the past, but writing notes and cards can have multiple advantages for teens. Letter writing can increase cognitive skills, inspire creativity and strengthen relationships. Encouraging your teen to send a note to an older, faraway relative could make that person’s day and result in a reply that will be treasured in years to come.

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Organizational Supplies

Have you looked at your teen’s closet lately? If not, we don’t blame you. Jump on the Marie Kondo craze and grab a collection of baskets, dividers and other organizing tools. Your teen just might realize the advantages of being able to find her stuff when she wants it. Wouldn’t it be great to see her try to maintain the tidiness?

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Nobody needs to tell you that teens love to eat. Fill up your fridge, freezer and pantry with healthful, appetizing items that you can feel good about feeding your child. Hang a dry erase board in the kitchen or keep an electronic shopping list running with your Google Home or Amazon Alexa-enabled device. And when it feels like your teen is eating a hole in your budget, remember that their summers at home are fleeting.

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About the Author

Tricia Goss

Tricia is a professional writer and editor who lives in North Texas with her family and one smelly dog. She is a wannabe problem solver, junk food maven professional coffee practitioner, web guru and general communicator. More.

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