Do you have teenagers? If so, this summer might be the one where you find yourself looking for ideas to know what do with those teens on vacation. No, we aren’t talking about where to go, when to go, or those kinds of details. But actually what to do with them once you get there.
To be a Mom of teens is to know that gone is the season of motherhood where you can plan out your days knowing the right balance of activity and down time with plenty of food and rest is your best bet for a fun week for all. Instead, you’ve got mostly grown individuals with unique interest and opinions ~ LOTS of opinions ~ which means finding center for group consensus can be monumental at best. If this sounds familiar, I’ve got a few tips that have worked for our family and I hope they do for yours too ~ check it out!
Lower Your Expectations
Story of my life. I can’t tell you how many holidays and family vacations where try as I might to keep it in check, that “perfect” planner in me reared it’s ugly head and stole my joy simply because I had unrealistic expectations.
Examples? Easter egg hunts gone wrong where it was all tears and no cute picture to be found. Visiting Disney with little ones and wanting to spend my entire day (and night) in the park but having to be content with following their schedule just like any other day of the year. Road trips where there aren’t near enough cars for the license plate game and someone “thinks” they might get car sick. This is life with kids ~ you just never know what you’ll get! So if you lower your expectations, your capture rate for true joy is MUCH higher ~ I promise. One positive day at a time like any other ~ that is the secret to lower expectations.
Adjust your Schedule
Vacations with teens means people are likely sleeping in and staying up late. And if I’ve learned nothing it’s likely that waking a sleeping teen isn’t any more beneficial than waking a sleeping baby. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create a loose schedule before you go. Now that your kids are older, it’s also a schedule that you’ve given everyone the opportunity to provide some input. When you do this in advance, you get a realistic handle on what vacation means to each family member ~ sleeping in for example ~and it might not be exactly what you thought.
Take a beach trip. You might note Saturday/Sunday/Monday as beach days as you get settled in. But that doesn’t mean everyone will hit the the beach by 9 am like they did when they were little. In fact the morning might be your best time for quiet time to do whatever YOU want because, hello, sleeping teens. But be ready for some kind of excursion by Tuesday. Why? Because three days is the limit, just like fish. That much family time doing the same thing needs an unexpected twist to keep things fresh and fun. So make Tuesday something completely different and be comfortable with that change.
Disconnect the Devices
Yes. Go on a vacation where access to devices are limited ~ grown ups and kids alike. If this sounds like too much micro managing, you may not have hit a stage with your child where their face is buried in their device despite your efforts to avoid that. It’s a hard season and one that makes you wish for those toddler tantrum days something fierce.
Examples of how to do this? Plan to play ~ board games, walks on the beach, lawn games after dinner ~ if you suggest it you’ll be surprised at how often your teens say sure. No different than at home, no phones at the table since hopefully you’ll be eating together more. And no phones at the beach. I’m serious. Bring the big camera instead and make it clear social networks aren’t welcome. Your friends and family are perfectly content to see your photo album post trip. You didn’t bring them on the trip ~ they don’t need to follow every movement while you are there. And just in case you have video loving teens, you can turn off their data at different times to help them stay engaged instead of engrossed online.
Give Them “Teen Only” Time
While my preference is to get as much time with my family all in one place as I possibly can, there’s no question teens have other plans in mind. While they may want to spend time with you, that doesn’t mean they want to do all day every day. They don’t at home so don’t expect them on vacation. Consider mixing it up and allowing your teens to head out on their own for a bit. A stroll or drive into town to visit the surf shop on their own, lunch out one day while you stay back at the rental, or even a trip to the movies one night sans parents. Its all about giving them some time to do whatever they want.
Allow Them to Bring Friends
Our children span middle school through to college. Each unique in their own ways, they are also in very different stages of their lives. Add to that a 6 year age gap between #2 and #3 and we’ve had plenty of trips where our hands have been full due to varying interests and maturity levels. Depending on how well your kids get along with each other’s friends ~ and amongst themselves ~ allowing them to bring a friend might just be your golden ticket for the best family vacation ever. Yes it adds to your expense and introduces more people to keep the peace, but if each friend is one you know well enough to know they get along with your family, not just your child, then you’ll be amazed at how positive this choice can be. We’ve raised our children to know that there are friends in their lives who will be like family. No reason not to take them on a family vacation then right?
While I make no promises about how your next family vacation with teens will play out, I can tell you that each of these tips has had a positive impact on how we travel with our teens. It a unique stage that deserves our attention and as always, we model in all we do, so why not do it well? Tell me…
How so you navigate teens on vacation?
I hope you have a wonderful summer and your family vacation is all you hope it will be. Thanks so much for stopping by ~ see you next time!!!