18 Awesome Tips for Surviving The School Holidays With Teenagers

Teenagers (Photo credit: kamshots)

Day 1 of the school holidays and the fridge is already empty, the sofas are piled high with bodies I don’t recognise and our home has been re-categorised as a hostel for depraved youth by wotif.com.


Some of the younger parents amongst you, who still have cuties for children, will embrace the impending school holidays enthusiastically. I hear you on Twitter, excited at the prospect of spending quality time with your offspring and the appeal of freedom from the constraints of homework and routine. For you, the holidays represent sleep-ins and cuddles, days spent in pyjamas or on the beach, a fuck off to routine and a welcome return to free fall.


For the rest of us, and particularly those like me who try to work from home, whose sweet little mummylovers have since developed into the teenage spawn variety, the holidays represent a freefall into the dark side, where in order to survive I have to become Katniss from the Hunger Games.


Here are my tips for surviving the school holidays with teenagers:


  1. NEVER leave cash in your purse, lock up your alcohol and change the pin number on your credit cards hourly.
  2. NEVER leave the house without evicting them first.
  3. REMIND them that the cooktop is out of bounds as is smoking out of windows because you still haven’t got around to replacing the batteries in the smoke alarms.
  4. BE very suspicious if the recycling box, once full of empty plastic bottles, has suddenly been emptied, the garden hose is shorter in lenght and there’s an ominous herbal smell in the house.
  5. HAVE a minimum of fifteen frozen pizzas in the freezer at all times and gallons of milk.
  6. DELETE your credit card details from all online food order, Box Office and online porn providers.
  7. AS tempting as a lie-in sounds, make sure you get up really early to fully appreciate the morning before they rise around midday.
  8. ALLOW an extra half an hour window in your daily routine to flush toilets and pick up wet towels.
  9. BUY copious amounts of deodorant.
  10. BUY the newest copy of the Urban Dictionary for translation purposes.
  11. TAKE an online course in the language of ‘Grunt’.
  12. PRACTISE in the mirror saying ‘TURN IT DOWN’ without resorting to the F word.
  13. ACCEPT that you will never be able to access the sofa directly in front of the tv for the whole two weeks.
  14. ACCEPT that you will never be able to find the remote control for the television when you want it.
  15. TRY a mindfulness strategy that convinces your brain that Xbox background music and zombie-killing noises can be restful.
  16. DON’T be offended when your suggestion of doing ‘something together’ activates hysterical laughter or the gagging response.
  17. EMBRACE the new-found freedom of having children that want nothing more to do with you.
  18. EXACT your revenge by embarrassing them in front of their mates. Dancing, singing, telling stories about when they were young, walking around the house bra-less, leaving the toilet door open, getting the photo albums out or calling them their pet names all work.


If you accept that your house is now a 2 star hotel and that those children whom you dedicated your life to now want nothing more to do with you (other than as a source of instant cash or as the hired help), you are winning, my friends, and you will survive.

If you like this post, you may also like the one below.

Parenting Teens and Toddlers

If you enjoy My Midlife Mayhem you might want to consider voting for me in the Best Australian Blogs Competition here. Just saying.

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See How Easily You Can Wind Up A Teenager

Wet Towels and Coco PopsHow many irrational and menopausally bitchy comments does it take to wind up a teenager?

Not many, in my experience.

Obviously I failed the perfect parent test AGAIN this week with my latest fracas with the ADHDer. And the implications of this one, our most serious humdinger yet, were a little more serious than our usual lower-grade battles. He took his revenge to a new level this time, by posting as me on my Facebook page with the words “I am a terrible mother.’


It was (almost) funny with hindsight, (and the alternative to Rescue Remedy in the form of a good bottle of Chardy), but witheringly embarassing nevertheless. I suppose it could have been so much worse; I mean he could have posted a photo of me first thing in the morning, or that video of me doing my Dita impression after that burlesque party and way too many Mohitos on Australia Day. But nevertheless……it hurt like hell.

The message was only visible for a precious minute or so; the time it took me to remember my password under inordinately stressful conditions. Long enough for a couple of loyal friends to instantly jump to my defense, fearing presumably that I had finally lost the plot and was on the verge of a breakdown, (which I probably was, at that point). You might find it hard to believe, but I don’t really like the whole airing my dirty laundry in public thing – laundry is fine, the really ‘dirty’ stuff stays in the basket.

There’s a sisterhood of us sharing teenage hell at the moment. With the breath-taking evolution of our once ‘little’ people becoming adults, and the benefits that go hand in hand with that growth, (like them finally communicating properly, sharing humour, sharing clothes), come the complexities of learning to control developing emotions and impulsivity, to understand the consequences to actions.

Afterwards, at my debriefing with the old man, I questioned my own contribution to this new stage in the turbulent relationship I have with my son, and I realised to my horror that I was as guilty of the same childish errors of judgement as him.

Us working mums are all too familiar with the ‘getting home from work’ domestic ritual. You wearily open the door, (shattered after ten hours on the computer, after ten hours of worrying it you’re good enough, after ten hours of faking it, after ten hours of not knowing what your children have been doing in your absence).

You wearily walk into the chaos that has ensued, because it’s the school holidays and you have to work nevertheless, and you have two teenagers and a dog left to their own devices, (deep breath). The dog hasn’t been walked and is pandering for attention that you no longer have the energy to give (deep breath); music is blaring from every zone of the house; the televisions are harmonizing and the back door is open and welcoming every lonely mosquito in the neighbourhood.

The ADHDer is in your room (OOOF!), even though you’ve tried explaining to him countless times that this tiny 12sqm space is YOUR zone; he’s on your computer (BAM!), lying in your fresh new sheets (WHAMM!), and by the mound of wet towels on the carpet, he has obviously used and abused your shower, AGAIN (KAPOW!).

He looks up, oblivious to your mood and innocently asks you what’s for dinner. This is a trigger question. You know it and he knows it.  You show no mercy. You tell him (spitefully) you’re making fish (purely out of consideration for his Omega 3 levels) and you watch the tell-tale signs of nausea flood his face. You are better than him at interpreting facial clues. He swallows and informs you that he WANTS ‘something nice’ (‘WHY CAN’T YOU EVER COOK ANYTHING NICE?’ is what he actually says. What, like another three bowls of Coco Pops, you think, the remnants of which are scattered over your bed?).

You start to froth and then erupt like Mount Vesuvius.

He is ill-prepared for your change in mood. His sinewy, growing adolescent body doesn’t have the experience to prepare for your verbal assault properly. He’s been in a good place all day, innocently trashing the house, while you’ve been repressed at work, building up to this outrage and resentment. Being a male and an ADHD male, he doesn’t understand your facial expressions or body language (as you frantically grab at stray Coco Pops off the bed, and forcefully kick your way though the wet towels that are getting caught up in your work stilhettos, all the while making as many tutting sounds as possible).

Bad stuff is said. Verbal bile that you know you’ll regret later, but unfortunately, you’re simply just not that perfect.

He says he wishes you weren’t his mother (ouch!), you say you wish you weren’t his mother either (childish). You are both in the teenage ring now. Verbal upper-cuts, right hooks, the match is on.

Fortunately you do have that lightbulb moment before it’s too late. There is indeed a God. For Dr Spock whispers magically in your ear somewhere in the midst of the intense heat, and the awareness that you are the adult finally kicks in.

And you stop yourself. You can’t deal with him leaving the house again, not knowing where he is. You hold up the white flag and walk away, like you should have ten minutes earlier. He storms off, huffing and puffing, you hope to calm down.

Your iphone flashes with a Facebook message. Apparently all is fair in love and war.

Teens Need Parents To Get A Grip

5 Ideas For Dealing With Teenagers

Midlife Mayhem – A Question of Maturity

I fear that I have been demoted to the role of ‘has-been female’ in our household.

I’m tentatively thrilled that my relationship with my teenage daughter is now in the ‘rediscovery’ phase after several turbulent years of adolescence, but I am sensing a resulting shift in the family dynamics. Whilst I’m earnestly trying to embrace our new pact, (I think she has to control her outward frustration with family life and I have to relinquish control of her every breath), some of her new behaviors relating to her ‘growth’ are irking me.

This newfound-maturity thing is not as straightforward as it seems, the main obstacle being that I’m simply not mature. There was no warning that the evil duckling was about to turn into a swan and I was obviously ill prepared for the fall-out. The family has welcomed the sudden change in her disposition, but if I’m honest I’m a little sceptical. Furthermore, I’ve observed that she has begun to infringe on my position in the household and, dare I say it, take on my role of alpha female.

Fortunately, she doesn’t seem fully conscious of her new standing yet, but I’m watching her. Obviously, her father fell for her guile the day she was born, and as nauseating as it is to witness his disempowerment in her presence, even I would be proud of her talent for extracting cash from him. And in spite of her newfound control, her brother still knows how to push the bitch switch and is not afraid of the outcome like the rest of us.

But her outer poise says it all and she now sashays around the house (my territory), exuding a shameless inner confidence and all-round gorgeousness that, frankly, I find confronting! I know I am the adult here and should be embracing her metamorphosis, so why do I see her as a threat?

You see her transformation into a young woman has provoked some serious soul searching on my part, although I have tried to rationalize my feelings of ‘offspring envy’. Maybe I can blame that on hormones too, or maybe I’m being too self-critical. I have adapted quite quickly to most aspects of her transition, after all, like the biological modifications neither of us could control.  Her height was only an issue until I re-introduced heels back into my wardrobe but that pheramonal attraction that boys have to her has been harder to manage, and stomach. Honestly, it’s hard to ignore the aesthetically perfect specimens of walking Testosterone that loiter around our home now, fawning over her, like drones around the Queen Bee. Boys used to behave like that around me, but I only catch the eye of male retirees now, and that’s on a good day.

So, do I retreat and lick my wounds or celebrate the success of my parenting skills? Am I really that shallow that I’m allowing my self-esteem to be threatened by the youth and beauty of my own progeny? Maybe I just need to ‘get a life’, like my ‘man mountain of middle age spread’ advised when I was moaning(his words)/seeking reassurance(mine)?

I admit it – I envy my own daughter! She has artfully crossed the boundary from adolescence to young adult, and in the words of the Spice Girls, acquired ‘girl power’. Once upon a time I used to have that power, but it’s been replaced by wrinkles and unwanted kilos. I envy her youth and looks, covet her intelligence and would trade my Chanel handbag for her endless possibilities.

Maybe I just need to grow up like she has!

High Heels 14 Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com (lucyguthrie 1)

Girl Power Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com