Save Money and Keep Teens Home by Creating a Teen Haven

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

(ARA) Most parents would agree that raising teenagers is never easy. But in a down economy, when many American families are trimming extras from their budgets, it can be even more difficult to keep teens happy, entertained and engaged in family life.

With the prospect of unemployment and falling home values on many parents' minds, sending teens on a ski trip with friends, or funding mall excursions and meals out, are just not in the budget anymore. Parents may find it's a better investment -- both for their homes and for their teens' development -- 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, mother of a 15-year-old boy living in Minneapolis. "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."

Turning your basement, game room or family room into a teen haven doesn't have to cost a bundle. Here are some helpful hints:

* 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 -- Atmosphere has a big impact on mood, especially if you're an already-moody teenager. Be sure to provide plenty of comfortable seating where teens can lounge with their friends while they chat, watch TV or surf the Internet. Consider setting the mood for the room by adding punch with teen-friendly decor like a wallpaper mural of your child's favorite sport. You'll find plenty of well-priced, easy-to-install wallpaper murals at Or, to make a really big splash, have the company 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 -- Just because your teen is hanging around at home with his friends, don't think it means you're automatically invited. 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