The moment your kid dips a toe into teenagehood, the parenting game changes. Completely. Their once infectious happiness has turned into adolescent angst and that once gorgeous wooden floor in your kitchen has become eggshells and you’ve been left feeling totally lost, reading through all the parenting survival guides you can, cursing up at the skies as you fall short in your quest for a tonic.
That’s where we come in. You see, the secret to navigating teenage angst and all that stuff is to unleash your inner James Dean and become the genuinely cool parents their friends will feel comfortable around, and the best way of doing this is to make sure your home is the go-to house when it comes to cool hangouts. You want to have the one home they all flock to after school and go to chat, gossip, play Playstation and flick through magazines.
Of course, if the idea of a mob of teenagers flock to your house every day is your idea of hell, simply do the exact opposite of everything we suggest below. That should keep them away.
- Time For A Bedroom Makeover
Don’t ask us why, but when teenagers get together, they tend to hang out in bedrooms. It’s bizarre. They arrive at your home, murmur the words “Hello Mrs. Jones,” walk through your perfectly amazing living room and go straight upstairs to the messiest room in the home. Anyway, with this being the case, it’s probably time to give your teenager’s bedroom a makeover. Replace that babyish duvet cover, the childish curtains, rhyming books and Peppa Pig poster with bits and bobs that ooze sophistication and style. Hang cool bits of artwork, frame the art they’ve produced, pop some retro cool furnishings about and take them shopping to select the sort of things that will get them excited by this little hangout space.
- Somewhere They Can All Slouch
Once upon a time, your kid’s bedroom was a place they went to sleep and play. But these days have gone. They are teenagers now and that means they’re going to use their room for all sorts of word hybrids you don’t understand fully, such as chillaxing. What this means is: they need plenty of seating options. It could be a stash of bean bags under their bed, a sofa below their window, a daybed they can use in whichever way they see fit, or a sofa bed that transforms at the click of their fingers (go, Dad). Basically, the aim of the game is to create a few different spots for a crowd of teenagers to sit and lie and slouch in total comfort.
- Let Them Connect With The World
The simplest way to make a group of teenagers leave a place is to cut off the internet connection. Sure, they might have a sweet data plan, but the amount of Instagramming and Facebooking and Snapchatting teenagers do they will eat through 10gb of data faster than Pacman chomped his way through levels. The point is: you need to offer up sufficient internet speeds, the sort that will allow you to keep working from home, your daughter and her friends to Instagram their lives and your son and his pal to keep winning world wars on whatever console he has a mild addiction too. You will see a max exodus if there is any compromise on this.
- Give Them Something To Do
Even with a mobile phone sat in their hands, teenagers get bored easily. They need an activity of some kind they can enjoy half-heartedly as they gossip and laugh. It could be a pool table, table tennis, air hockey, pinball, anything like that. The reason this will work is that it is something out of the norm, something that doesn’t require a screen, and thus a magnet that most bored teenagers won’t be able to resist, especially when those long summer holidays come around and they’re looking for free ways to entertain themselves. Just make sure you pop your entertainment factor in a dedicated part of the home so that they can chat freely – away from the prying ears of parents. That’s how to ensure they love it even more.
- Fill Your Cupboards Appropriately
There will be a time in their lives when they start making kale and strawberry smoothies for breakfast and heading out on coffee dates to munch on avocado and sourdough bread. But they haven’t got there yet. Not at all. When a teenager feels hungry, all they want to snack on is unhealthy foods. That’s what entices them. But that doesn’t mean you have to agree and fill your cupboards with junk food. Not at all. Things like freshly baked cookies, homemade pizzas, veggie sausage rolls you made yourself and that sort of stuff will all go down a treat. Of course, you’re not going to do this every time, so make sure there are some healthy popcorn snacks lying about, chips and dips and plenty of nachos too.
- Give Them A Proper Hideaway
Whatever your home allows, find a way to give them their own little hideaway of some kind. It could be a corner of your garden they can use as their outdoor escape zone, complete with exotic plants to make it feel secluded and a few mattresses topped pallets for extra comfort (and cool factor). Or, if you have a garage or shed or granny annex or something, try converting this into a sweet, self-contained hangout. Not only will this make your home utterly badass when they are teens, it will stop your kid fleeing the nest the moment they turn 18. They can have it as their place of privacy, their party place or just somewhere they can enjoy when they have a sleepover with their mates. Come on, what teenager wouldn’t go crazy for this kind of escape.
Other than that, what you need to do is play it cool. Don’t try too hard or they will see straight through you. Just seem unfazed by their presence and they’ll love staying at your place.