DEAR HARRIETTE: For the first time in eight years, I did not enroll my son in any type of summer camp or organized summer activity. He was tired from his first year in high school and did not want to go back to camp. He has had a few long weekends with his friends and two mini-vacations with our family, but mostly he sleeps and does little to nothing. He has to read a bit before school starts, and I’m having a hard time getting him motivated to do that. Clearly, I made a mistake giving him a break this summer. How can I get him energized before school starts again? -- Lazy Summer
DEAR LAZY SUMMER: Create an agenda from now until the end of the summer. Include daily reading for a specific period of time. Enforce bedtimes and awake times. Make your son get up, and give him a list of chores that he must do each day.
If you have the flexibility, take him places in your city where you can explore the local culture as tourists. Have him help you pick the venues so he is actively involved.
If he balks at first, point out that you realize it wasn’t smart for him to have the whole summer off, so you want to work with him now to discover meaningful ways to fill his remaining time off. Make it clear that there are no options, so he should jump in and help to make it fun. Look online for local activities that you can consider.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am horrified to admit this, but I feel like a lost teenager. I am a middle-aged woman, and I am totally addicted to video games. I have at least three different games going at any one time, and in order to advance, I have to pay little bits of cash along the way. I tell myself I am not going to spend another dollar only to find myself clicking “yes” to another $10 here or $20 there. It’s crazy! But I am at my wits’ end about it. I pick up my tablet or phone whenever I have a few extra minutes and get absorbed into one game or another. Now I know why teens seem entranced by these games. I am, too. How can I curb my seemingly uncontrolled video game habit? -- Addicted to Gaming
DEAR ADDICTED TO GAMING: The marketers of video games are so smart that they have figured out how to suck people in and keep them there for as long as possible. You are right that it feels like an addiction. For many people, it is just that.
How can you take back control of your time and money? Put time limits on when you can handle your devices. Since you need your phone for talking, take the video games off it so that your temptation is removed. Keep them on your tablet only. Then keep the tablet in a central area of your home or workplace that is just out of reach. Give yourself windows of time when you can engage in your games. Set an alarm so that you know when your time is up. Force yourself to stop.
This is mind over matter. You can do it, but you need to make it hard to access the applications or else it will be extremely difficult to win this battle.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)