Holiday with our teenager

We have two teenage boys. While one of them displays some definite teenage behaviour – he’s stubborn, he goes to bed to late and he is addicted to his phone – it is the other who is the ‘true’ teenager. At 16, he can at times behave like a mature and responsible young adult. He is a pleasure to spend time with on his own.

But bring his brother and sister into the equation and he is a typical teenager.

He likes nothing more to wind them up and will do it from the moment he gets up until the moment they go to bed. It is tiring and rather boring. And we were taking this behaviour away to Padstow with us for a week.

We are very busy all the time, my husband in particular. We really needed a proper break. So I’ll admit I was slightly dreading the teenage behaviour while I was away. Having the kids arguing constantly isn’t really my idea of a holiday. Nor is having one person constantly asking to do something else.

My eldest doesn’t like Padstow. He moans about it every year. He wants to go somewhere cool. Somewhere abroad. Somewhere expensive.

What he doesn’t realise is that if we weren’t in Padstow, we’d only be in another part of Cornwall. Or maybe Devon or Wales. We wouldn’t be in India or Sri Lanka or even Greece. Because there is no such thing as a cheap holiday for five. Cheap flights aren’t cheap when they’re multiplied by five. Cheap hotels aren’t cheap when you’re forced to have two rooms.

But then my husband came up with what seemed like a genius plan.

Instead of forcing my 16 year old out of bed at 8am every day to spend time with the family, we’d just let him stick with his normal sleep patterns of getting up between 10 and 11 and the rest of us would just get out of the house and enjoy our holiday.

The younger two kids love being in Padstow and they are happy to get up between 7 and 8. They want to be out as soon as possible to make the most of being away.

So on the first morning of the holiday, the four of us went for a walk around the town for an hour. With my son still asleep, we went for a bike ride. By the time we got home, he was actually out of bed and we went to the beach.

On the next morning, my husband and I went running first thing and the younger two kids came along on their bikes as our ‘support team’. I think I’ve run with my husband about twice in my whole life before because we’ve never been able to leave the kids. But this was the perfect solution for everyone. The kids were happy riding their bikes, we were happy to be out training for the half marathon and my eldest was happy to be on his own enjoying a sleep.

Early in the mornings, it felt like we were a family of four. There is something very easy about two parents and two kids spending time together. The kids are happier and more relaxed without their brother there. They never argue and they don’t worry about being judged for saying or doing anything their brother disapproves of.

When my son requested a fishing trip rather than the usual boat trip with his dad and brother, we agreed. Yes, it cost a bit more, but he couldn’t complain that we never let him do what he wanted to do! Plus it would give his brother and sister a break.

It felt strange to me to let him do his own thing, but it worked. Giving my teenager space on holiday was the perfect solution for him and for us. He wants to feel grown up and like he can make his own choices. We want the whole family to enjoy the holiday.

How do you cope with your teenagers on holiday?

Holiday with our teenager, Fishing, Son, Teenager, Padstow, Cornwall



Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Ooh that’s genius, sounds like it worked a treat! I don’t know how we’re going to cope with the teenage demands that ours make, I’m struggling with the demands of a five year old at the moment! Glad you all had a good holiday.

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    • Thanks very much, it worked really well! My eldest is a good boy by most teenager’s standards, but living with teenagers is hard even when they’re good! Only another eight years to go for us… In 18 months I’ll have three of them! x

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  2. It’s all about a little give and take, isn’t it? Families change and that means holidays (and dynamics!) have to as well. Reading this though, you make it sound like he was a bit of a spare part in the way of your cosy 2+2 family. He must feel this too and that’s possibly why he acts the way he does. I know parenting teenagers can be tricky (heck I have three of them myself!) but you have to embrace the changes as a positive thing not begrudgingly like they ‘spoil’ your plans for a family holiday!

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    • This was us embracing the positives and working with him! Sadly at the moment our family works two ways – the two younger kids together or the two boys together. The difference between my 11yo daughter and my 16yo son is just too great at the moment for them to enjoy the same things. I hope in time they will learn to get along and enjoy the same things again.
      I know from talking to another parent with kids the same age as my older two, plus a girl younger than mine, that they would prefer not to go on holiday at all than try to deal with the kids needing to do three different things and disagreeing all the time!

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      • Gosh I agree with you Sarah – sometimes holidays with three at very different ages and life stages, it’s easier to stay at home! I think it’s just a phase and things will even out in time but whilst they are in this stage, do what you can to keep everyone happy. Avoiding the arguments is key. Our holiday was flipping hard work this year and our children are also 17, 15 and 12 – the younger one wants to hang out with his parents, the older two don’t. We came away more exhausted than we were before! But we know it’s a phase and one day they won’t want to come with us at all so we try to accommodate everyone where possible. Sounds as though you did the same. Well done!

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        • Thanks very much! That’s exactly it – I know that it won’t be long before they are able to opt out, so we would rather adapt to their needs (and put up with a bit of moaning/ arguing) and try to enjoy it because we will miss them in a few years when they don’t want to go!
          I guess this is probably my last year of my younger son wanting to spend much time with us, as he will be 14, going on 15, next year.

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  3. Such a good idea and I wonder if we kind of forget that teens want a lot of their own space (and everything to go their own way). It sounds like you managed to find a really good balance this time. Long may it continue for every holiday!

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    • Thanks very much! I really hope it does continue. We will probably be having to give time and space to two of them next year and only going out with my daughter first thing in the morning!

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  4. It sounds to me as though you came up with the perfect solution that worked for everyone. Whilst the younger two are still adaptable the make the most of it as you did! I think they all reach a grumpy teenage phase eventually but it’s hard when it’s only one and the others still want to do exciting family activities. We have that a bit in that our older two are grumpy teenage girls but our youngest is only 12 and he is still happy to hang out with his parents and enjoys doing things with us. We regularly let our older two lie in and then met them later when they were more civil to everyone! Whatever works I say! Sounds as though he had a great holiday 🙂

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    • Thanks very much! I think it worked for him and it worked for the rest of us too. I think this may have been the last year my younger son will want to hang out with his parents and he might be joining his brother in the long lie-ins next year!

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  5. Nodding along to all of this and I think you just realise that it’s not worth the hassle of getting them up early/making them do something they don’t want to do. Finding the perfect solution is definitely the way to go now, and I think we are also happier realising that. Sounds like you absolutely did the right thing Sarah. It’s not a holiday when you are faced with a grumpy tired teen is it xx

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    • Thanks very much! It seemed a bit strange at first not to have him with us all the time, but it actually made perfect sense. It’s everybody’s holiday and, like you say, a grumpy, tired teen isn’t a lot of fun!

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  6. That sounds like a genius plan and I’m so glad it worked. My 13-year-old was hideous on a recent trip to Wales, he had had enough so he just decided to make everyone’s life a misery. It is so annoying and I know it is a phase but it makes life so difficult for everyone else. Totally agree about the holiday costs too, unless you are willing to go in school time, it is so expensive for five.

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