(ARA) - Most parents agree that raising teenagers is never easy. But in a down economy, when many families are trimming extras from their budgets, it can be even more difficult to keep teens happy, entertained and engaged in family life.
Instead of funding mall excursions and meals out, parents may find it's a better investment to create a haven at home where teenagers can socialize for free.
"Like most teenagers, my son really enjoys hanging out with his friends," says Ann Mackinnon of Minneapolis, mother of a 15-year-old boy. "But a lot of the things that kids like to do outside the house cost money that just isn't in the budget right now. Instead, we decided to turn our basement into a place where my son Ian and his friends could spend time together. It's cheaper then sending him out somewhere, plus it gives me the peace of mind of knowing where he is, what he's doing and who he's with."
Here are some helpful hints for creating a teen haven that doesn't have to cost a bundle:
Make it Game Time
Video games are a big part of social life for many teens, but don't overlook the value of board games and table games as well. Besides the Wii and PlayStation, stock your teen haven with teen-friendly board games. Consider adding a table hockey or foosball game if space and budget allow.
Master the Munchies
Teen boys are notoriously big eaters, so be sure to have plenty of teen-friendly (and hopefully healthful) snacks on hand if you're hosting your son's friends. You could even add a small refrigerator in your teen haven to keep beverages and snacks cold and within easy reach for both genders.
Set the Mood
Be sure to provide plenty of comfortable seating where teens can lounge while they chat, watch TV or surf the Internet. Set the mood for the room by adding punch with teen-friendly decor like a wallpaper mural of your child's favorite sport. Or, to make a really big splash, make a full-sized mural out of one of your teen's favorite personal photos, such as a snapshot from her dance recital or his football team's group picture.
Make Yourself Scarce
Teen havens only work if parents respect the child's space and make their presences barely felt.
"Of course I keep an ear and eye out for what Ian and his friends are doing in our basement," says Mackinnon. "But I really do try to respect their privacy and I don't hang out with them. Just as I wouldn't want his friends to infringe on our family time, I try not to horn in on Ian's time with his buddies."
With a few simple steps, parents can turn their home into a place where teens will be happy to hang out -- and save themselves some money in the process. Courtesy of ARAcontent