I'll be the first to admit that travelling when the Children were babies was so much easier. Sure, there was no sleep, lack of routine, lots of nappies, intermittent crying and pretty much taking everything bar the kitchen sink to go away on Holidays. But,they were happy to go anywhere, as long as it was with you. This pleasant phase continues until the moment they blow out the last candle on their 13th Birthday cake, or thereabouts….but currently, mine are still happy and willing ( as long as we are paying!) Ahh, teenagers, the joys. Those gorgeous, moody, spotty, surly, hormonal, door slamming, sardonic creatures. One minute your BFF and the next your worst enemy!
Suddenly, your family dynamics have changed by the teen in the corner, who now has a fondness for sleeping untill midday and technology. Here are a few tips to get you through the impending Christmas Holidays!
1. Treat them like an adult
‘I’m not a kid anymore’, they wail (while acting like a six year-old). So if they're old enough send them off on a group holiday on their own and see how they cope, building huts in Cambodia? Sure why not? Which is probably not what they had in mind, but that’s the deal. Forget Bali, Thailand, Maldives, Hawaii, Europe and stop whinging, you brat.
2. Treat them like a teenager
One minute they hate you because no-one else’s parents make them be home by midnight (Your just ridiculous Mum!) and the next, they want their mum…awwww. Don’t expect them to behave like an adult. Don’t expect them to enjoy museums, ( because to be honest, as a teenager, I found them totally boring as well) and I remember what it was like to be a teen! Don't expect them to help out with all of the bookings (thats my job anyhow). Their teenage years are heart-breakingly difficult enough, figuring out how to deal with those raging hormones, so let them mope about the house watching Breaking Dawn/ The Vampire Diaries... if they want to.
Happy teenagers? This isn't real, they're models
3. Let them choose activities
Let your Children help plan your holiday destination and activities whilst on Holiday. My eldest loves to Surf, the youngest is a mad keen fisherman ( we had to buy him a fishing rod at Walmart on our last Holiday) which did the job and my girls love to shop, swim, snorkel and chill with their Mumma. Make sure that everyone has something on their wish list, including yourselves, after all…It's everyone's Holiday.
4. Give them space
With a family of 6, we are way past adding a roller bed, and of course, safelty regulations won't avow it. There comes a time when your offspring become cumbersome in confined spaces and needs their own space, especially when they have past the 6ft mark and still growing. Beware of growth spurts – a lot can happen between booking a Holiday in April and going away in January. Are you continually amazed at the amount of time your teen can spend asleep on the weekends? Don't forget they still need extra downtime when you're travelling, too. Be sensitive to their need for a little space and some extra rest. If the crankiness starts to build, It's time to take a break and chill.
On our last Holiday to Hawaii in May, my girlfriend and I let our 12 and 13 year old daughters (which look more like 18 year olds) have some free shopping time at Ala Moana Shopping Centre, a very safe 5 minute walk from our resort, sometimes you just have to go with your gut, and Mumma always knows best. The girls, loved their independence and were perfectly safe.
Kids these days need to connect with friends whilst on Holidays through social media, for starters they'll need wifi to catch up with friends back home,they need to be Instagramming, snap chatting and face booking so just limit their usage. When the Children were younger our Holidays were all Apple free, but now you just have to go with it, they need downtime as well.
6. Master the art of travel
Getting to the airport on time, remembering to pack your hair straighteners (for the daughters!)… going on holiday can be stressful. Be organised and start packing at least 1-2 weeks ahead of your departure.
8. Just Chill
Take a cue from the average teen's attitude, and don't freak out when things go wrong. Because chances are things will go wrong! Be spontaneous and flexible and embrace the unexpected as an adventure! I can count the numerous occasions that we have encountered dodgy accommodation, waiting for elusive buses (that don't appear) and desperately searching for WIFI- but every story is now an amazing memory, that we reflect on often and laugh, so hard! Don't let detours ruin the fun!
9.Preserve the Memories Don't forget to take pictures with your teen! I always have at least 3 cameras and my Iphone on hand. You don't want to return home to find hundreds of shots of the sights, the odd picture of your teen and maybe a few selfies of yourself. Be sure to find other friendly tourists and get some great family shots. You'll be glad that you did and those photos together, taken at such memorable times, are priceless. Then share your memories!
10. Look to the future
Before you know it your Children will be all grown up..and the Family Holidays will be a distant memory. Make the most of what precious time we have with these beautiful souls.It'll all be back to normal as soon as you get home, but they will thank you for it one day...…when they understand what it's like to be a parent. Until then, Happy Holidays!!
Got any good tips on holidaying with teenagers? Feel free to share them with us.