Prep Your Teen For The Future

April 26, 2009 by Amy Clark

My friend and I were talking about her teenage son. She wants to help him gain real-world experience, and is encouraging him to apply for part-time jobs. Make sure your kids can balance their time and work commitments with other activities. Guide kids to stay focused and avoid distractions on the job.


Babysitting can be lucrative! Before your child takes her first job, discuss expectations and rates. Teens should know first aid and basic childcare. Those with previous experience can establish a rate sheet with references. We love sitters who come prepared with a bag of books, games and activities to share with our kids. It shows initiative and can help justify higher fees.


  • Emergency phone list (that they ask their client to fill out)
  • Coloring books
  • Crayons, markers, pencils
  • Construction paper
  • Game ideas
  • Storybooks, puzzles and riddle books
  • Old magazines to cut up
  • Colorful yarns
  • Big chalk
  • Safety scissors
  • Craft supplies (fabrics, old socks for puppets, glue, glitter, paper plates, etc.)
  • First aid kit

Yard Work

Teens can earn some green and get good exercise by starting a neighborhood lawn care service. Teach your child how to safely operate a lawn mower. Establish expectations with each homeowner upfront: Will your teen need to bag clippings, pull weeds and/or provide the mower and fuel? If you live in an area with large lots, encourage your child to team up with a sibling or friend.

It’s easy to adapt this job to the changing seasons. Replace the lawn mower with a rake in autumn and a snow shovel or blower in the winter.


  • In the summer: mower, yard waste bags, work gloves and sunscreen
  • In the fall: a rake and large yard waste bags
  • In the winter: a shovel or snow blower

Dog Walking

Encourage your teen to research pet care and breeds. Check out library books or talk to a local veterinarian. Then announce the new service. I love the idea of tying a dog biscuit and contact card together with ribbon and delivering them door-to-door. This is a great opportunity for parent/child bonding time, since mom or dad should help scope out potential clients.


  • Leashes
  • Dog treats
  • Pet toys
  • Materials for announcements


Eco-conscious teens can start a neighborhood recycling service in towns that don’t offer curbside recycling. Teens should identify the nearest recycling plant, create a list of accepted items and alert neighbors. Establish a flat per-trip rate based on average time and mileage, and set pickup dates and times for each household. Purchase bins for customer collection of recyclables. Teens should clean and redistribute the bins after each trip.


  • Car
  • Recycling bins
  • Work gloves

Sewing and Crafting

Teens with advanced sewing skills can provide alterations or make custom items like eco-friendly shopping bags. Or they can put craft skills to work by making jewelry, screen-printing posters and tee shirts and making bows, especially around the holidays. Or, explore opportunities at local boutiques, gift shops and craft fairs.


What jobs have helped your teenager prepare for the future?

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark has been the driving force behind MomAdvice since 2004. In addition to running a successful community for women and running after her two kids, she has appeared on The Early Show, and in Parents magazine, Redbook, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, MSN Money and The New York Times.