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How To Do Less By Getting Your Teenager To Do More

Here’s a New Year’s resolution: do less.

If you’re thinking, “Sure, sounds great, but how?” we have four tips to get you started, courtesy of Asha Dornfest, creator of the popular and co-author of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less.

How To Do Less This Year

  1. Delegate. Think of these as “move-out” skills, says Dornfest. “Teenagers are competent individuals. Teenagers can do laundry. They can wash dishes. They won’t be thrilled about it, and that’s really fine.” Why not make this year the year your teenager finally takes over the laundry? Or cooks dinner once a week? What about cleaning the bathroom for you? Or any of a dozen other to-dos you may be juggling?
  2. Cap commitments. You don’t have to accept every invitation you get. Pick your family’s number of “just-right” commitments per week and stick to it. This goes for your teenager too.
  3. Limit the taxi service. These days, we tend to drive our teenagers everywhere. So this year, why not let your teenager take charge of getting places—school, sports, extra-curricular activities—on her own, whenever possible (walking, bicycling, public transportation).
  4. Step back at school. If you’re still playing a major role in your teenager’s homework routine, it may be time to take a step back. By middle school, you should have only minimal involvement. Not only does this approach take work off your to-do list, but it’s better for your teenager in the long run. “It gives teenagers a chance to build those muscles of self reliance,” Dornfest notes.

The best thing about doing less (while our teenagers do more)? They’ll be better prepared for college, where they’ll have to get to places on their own (and on time), do their own laundry and other chores, while also managing their academics. Hey, they may even thank you one day.

Diana Simeon is an editorial consultant for Your Teen.

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