How to Entertain Teens Without Breaking the Bank :: Nine Ways to Have Fun


School’s out for the summer! Yippee! But wait. If you haven’t heard it already, it won’t be too long before you start hearing, “I’m bored,” or, “There’s nothing to do.”

So here’s a pro tip for moms: go ahead and build up a library of activities in your mind so that you’re ready to pull a rabbit out of your hat when your teen heads your way with a long face.  

Teens are usually pretty good at filling up their calendars with part-time jobs, outings with friends, and other activities. But when their plans fall through, you’ve got to be ready to do what moms do: save the day! 

The first few weeks of summer are usually pretty cool. But just like younger kids, teens crave routines, so they can sometimes find it difficult to deal with extended periods of downtime. 

After the newness of being out of school for the summer wears off, you’ll want to have some ideas to help keep your teen entertained. 

Nine Inexpensive Ways to Have Fun with Your Teen

1. Binge-watch old television series.  

Think of some old television shows that you loved when you were a teen and queue them up! You’d be surprised how interested teens can be in what you were interested in when you were their age. This activity might spark lots of conversation and even some laughs (if it’s a funny show). 

entertain teens

2. Play board games.  

Playing board games is something that I frequently did with my parents when I was growing up. I remember having so much fun with them. So grab some of your favorite games and prepare for an evening of fun with your teen.   

3. Cook meals together.  

I am particularly fond of this activity because you’re developing skills that your teen will need in a few years when they’re out on their own. What’s your teen’s favorite meal? Guide them in preparing this meal, or if they’re no stranger to the kitchen, let them take the lead! Cooking meals together is a great activity that can lead to a few hours of fun with your teen, especially if you factor in the time you eat the meal together, too!  

4. Have a dance party. 

Making TikTok videos is one of my favorite “mommy and me” activities. Teens will get a kick out of you embracing their world. If you aren’t comfortable recording yourself dancing, skip that step. Dancing is such a fun way to spend time with your teens. 

5. Go bargain shopping. 

A fun way to teach teens a lesson about budgeting while having a little fun is by going bargain shopping. Give your teens a budget and have them shop for something like groceries for a meal or a back-to-school outfit. This is a great way to teach them about the value of a dollar. 

6. Go on a scavenger hunt at the mall.

Who says that you can only go to the mall to buy stuff? Scavenger hunts are a fantastic way to have healthy family competition. You can work together to create a scavenger hunt, or you can grab one of the many free ones available on the internet. 

7. Restore an old piece of furniture. 

Head over to your local thrift store and find a piece of furniture that you can restore with your teen. Even if you don’t have experience restoring furniture, taking the time to learn and play with your teen will be worth it. And, that finished product will be something you can talk about for years to come!

8. Do something kind for someone. 

Whether it’s a grandparent, an elderly neighbor, or a stranger, brainstorm (together with your teen) something kind that you can do for someone outside of your home. This activity is a great way to teach your teen to pay it forward. Afterward, have a conversation with your teen about how it made them feel to help someone. 

9. Look through old family photos.

Sit together with your teen and look through old family photos. You could talk about the memories that each image evokes. It’ll be fun going down memory lane. Bonus idea: recreate an old family photo! Bonus idea plus: make an Instagram reel of the transition from old family photo to the present!

entertain teens

These are just nine of the many ways you can have fun with your teen. As a mom of young adults, I quickly learned the importance of being very intentional with the time you spend with your teens. In a blink, they’ll be moving to that next phase of life, so you’ve got to make every moment count. There are so many inexpensive ways to have fun with your teen and spend quality time with them as well. And, many of these activities have underlying teachable moments that make them that much more worthwhile. 



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