My 16-year-old daughter has a crazy schedule. Between marching band and summer camp counseling, music lessons and Bible study, she’s not a kid who has the typical availability to work at Chick-Fil-A or ring up groceries three to five shifts a week. So how can today’s uber-committed kids earn some cash?
Both my husband and I run our own businesses, and we love the flexibility this affords us to work and be available for our family needs simultaneously. We’re teaching our kids to also approach life from an entrepreneurial perspective, which means, when the world doesn’t fit into your lifestyle—create your own mold.
Summer jobs are an excellent opportunity to apply this principle.
If your teens are looking for cash and flexibility beyond the norm, here are ten ideas for self-starter summer jobs.
Create a summer camp for kids. Teens can secure a venue, organize daily activities, and invite customers to attend for a fee. For a special spin, encourage your son or daughter to host a grandparent camp in which older adults can register with their grandkids and enjoy pre-planned activities and snacks.
Vacation pet coverage. Summer is prime time for families to get away… and leave the dog or cat behind. Or, in our case, the dogs (plural), plus a lizard, a snake, and four hissing cockroaches (yes, these are real pets). Who in the world is going to feed and water all of those creatures while we leave the state for a week? A fearless teenager. Kids can make a boatload of money providing daily pet care to desperate vacationers.
Dog walking. Continuing with the pet theme, lots of busy families could use help getting their dogs outside even when they’re not on vacation. During long workdays or weekends spent at the ball diamond, having somebody available to give the dogs some exercise and a potty break is a godsend to plenty of dog moms and dads. Busy teens can job share to ensure coverage on days when one or the other walker is booked with their own stuff.
Lawn care. One of the boys in our neighborhood went around the block handing out fliers with his phone number and a list of lawn care services he’s willing to provide. My husband wanted to shake his hand just to tell him he admires the initiative. Lawn services can easily be scheduled according to your teen’s availability.
Party planning. Summer is prime time for graduation celebrations and outdoor birthday parties. Busy parents can use help planning and executing the details. If your teen has a gift for hospitality, encourage him or her to offer assistance with the dirty work (for a fee), from designing invitations to researching party games to making those last-minute runs to the corner store for soda and ice.
Curate and sell bundles. If your teen is more a product seller than a service provider, brainstorm products he or she can source inexpensively and repackage in a bundle for a profit. The focus here is on providing convenience for the buyer. For example, create a Fourth of July picnic pack. Your teen can compile kid-friendly fireworks, flags, red-white-and-blue themed snacks, and fun activities like a U.S. history trivia quiz or lawn game—then post pics of a sample pack on social media and take pre-orders.
Manage a neighborhood rummage sale. Many households have plenty of used items they could sell, but yard sales are a lot of work. Encourage your teen to plan a sale on behalf of all the neighbors. He or she can collect the items, track the pricing, arrange the product displays, and post local advertising. Then in return, all sellers agree to share a hefty commission on everything sold.
Offer catering services. Last summer, I looked into ordering custom cookies for my husband’s 50th birthday party, and they were not cheap. If your teen is a wiz at baking, why not get in on that action? Your son or daughter can market homemade cookies, cupcakes, decorated cakes, cake pops, or other special treats for summer festivities and schedule baking and delivery according to their availability. Just be sure to check any state or local laws governing sales of baked goods.
Tutoring. If your teen is a top student and enjoys working with younger kids, he or she could provide one-on-one help to elementary or middle school students during the summer months. Whether in math or reading, foreign language, or the arts, start spreading the word to fellow parents that your son or daughter is available to help kids progress to the next level before another school year begins.
Virtual assistance. I’m an online business owner and a mom. I plan to reduce my hours this summer in order to invest more in my kids, as a lot of writers and podcasters do. But there are still plenty of tasks that need to get done. If your teen has a talent for using Canva, or responding to customer service emails, or creating and posting social media content, encourage your child to find a blogger who needs help. Good virtual assistants are worth their weight in gold.
Not every teen needs a job at Starbucks in order to develop a strong work ethic. With a little imagination, courage, and perseverance, your son or daughter could be on the road to earning an income while also retaining freedom in their schedule to pursue other non-paid priorities.
Both are important. Why?
Because using the gifts God gave us, whether in a paid capacity or not, honors God and shows the world more of who He is. And that’s the best job any kid—or parent—could hope for.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23)
Cheering for you!