How to have a blissful holiday with your teenagers

Yes, it is possible to have an awesome holiday with your teens - a holiday where everyone's needs are met and everybody can get down to having fun and reconnecting. I mean, holidays are a treat, and a big investment, so you really want every family member to do their part. Here's how we made sure our whole family had a good time on our recent holiday:

Firstly: Organise a trip that appeals to your teens (and you, of course). That'll make your teens happy. And, if they're happy, you'll be happy because grumpy teenagers can quickly ruin your holiday. Been there, done that. And as much as you'd like to threaten that they won't be invited next time, these years of family holidays with your teens are finite and fleeting, and great memory makers, so it's worth getting organised and on the same page - for everyone's happiness. We took ours to a warm climate destination in the middle of our Auckland winter, and that worked a treat. We love you, Fiji!

Please note: I keep reminding these teenagers of mine just how lucky they are to go on great overseas holidays at all, and that I went on my first holiday abroad when I was 21! And even then, it was a working holiday. #luckymuch

Number 2: When you go out for holiday meals, let them order a Coke and mocktails (holidays are for treats, after all). That'll make them very agreeable. And then they might let you take a few photos of them...

... and even some family shots... 

...and then everyone (mom) will be happy. Bliss.

3. Make sure your hotel has unlimited wifi in the rooms and everywhere else too - because a connected teenager is a contented teenager. Am I right, or am I right? The only downside to this is that you'll have to lay down the law when it comes to devices at the dinner table because those are the times when you get to really connect with each family member and enjoy some good laughs together. And that is what these holidays are about, after all. Also, I find that when we're doing fun things together as a family, they tend to forget about those phones which is awesome.

Some might say that no wifi would be better because then they have to talk to you, but I have found that that simply makes my teens anxious and always searching for that elusive wifi instead of enjoying the moment. And yes, it is good for everyone to go offline every now and then, but really, forcing them to have fun with you will often defeat the object. What I find is that you need to find a good balance.

Number 4. Include the buffet breakfast when you make your hotel booking. Teenagers love a good buffet breakfast! (And don't forget - a hungry teenager is a disgruntled teenager. Absolutely no fun to be around.) Also? Unlimited access to bacon, eggs, hash browns, fruit and the pastry table - what's not to love? For both teens and parents. We had some great family time while savouring all those delectables. And yay for not having to remind your kids to pack the dishwasher after the meal. Some people might find doing breakfast differently suits them better - whatever works for you as long as everybody gets fed before the wheels fall off, and it's not a huge schlepp. We have found the hotel breakfast to be the easiest, and it works for us, so we plan our holiday spending knowing that will be an expense we have to include.

5. In between all the eating and tanning poolside, book a couple of day trips or outings. That'll keep those teens excited and grateful. We booked two boat trips - one to Cloud 9, a pontoon in the ocean which serves delicious pizzas and tasty cocktails, and another to Savala island for some great snorkelling and a BBQ. There's something to be said for getting to spend uninterrupted time with your teenagers in a beautiful setting. And also, going on walks and doing fun activities together brings everyone closer.

And lastly, make sure everyone gets enough me-time, especially if you have an introvert amongst you. Certain members of our family took advantage of the hotel gym facilities, others enjoyed quiet time on their balcony and I spent my alone-time reading.

It's always heart-warming, as a parent, to see your kids spending time and having fun together, especially when the age gap seems to widen at times and they don't seem to have as much in common anymore. (Girl Uni student and 13 year old boy, above. These two went on a couple of long walks and adventures together which made my heart sing.)

Happy teens = happy parents = blissful holiday. And just to be clear, I'm not saying that our teens' moods dictate our quality of life, because we certainly don't give them all that power, but we do try to strive for thoughtfulness (not always easy) and making everyone aware that they each have a role to play in the overall happiness of our family and the success of a family holiday. Sounds pretty heavy, and a lot of the time we're not successful - someone could be snippy or tired or have had too much sugar - but that's real life, I guess.

As parents, we're here to teach our kids how to be good people, what role they can play in this crazy world and how to treat others (amongst other things) - and this is often heightened on a family holiday when you're spending so much time together without day-to-day life interruptions. I find that family holidays are a good time to have meaningful talks that perhaps we don't have enough time for during the rest of the year. And I have to try not to lecture when we're holidaying, but, hey, we're all on a journey, aren't we? ;)

I love our family holidays - it reminds me how lucky I am that I get to call these people my family. I have a kind, thoughtful husband and three amazing kids who each have the most awesome and unique qualities. And watching them grow up has truly been the highlight of my life.

Anyway, those are 6 of my tips for having a blissful family holiday with teens. We had a fantastic time together in Fiji recently.

Do you have any tips to add? What have you found helps to make your family holidays fun?


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