Reflections from the Backcounter
This has been a busy summer for our family and as a result, I have not had the opportunity to do menus and meal planning because we have been traveling so much. I thought it would be a great idea to share some of the lessons I have learned from being on the the road with my three teens.
So here it goes
TOP TEN tips for traveling with teens:
1. Allow them to sleep. Teenagers need infinitely more sleep than the average adult and their circadian rhythm is usually completely out of synch with that of the exhausted supervising parent. Just as the monosyllabic, grumpy, sleepy bordering on surly teenager is waking up and ready to engage in activities (5pm-7pm) the irritable wine deprived adult is ready to collapse into a heap and recover from the days activities(see below)
2. Herding cats is easier. Attention all feline wranglers. Teens are harder to wrangle than their feline counterparts. If you think it is hard gathering up a herd of those wily kitties, try to get a group of teens all together in one place at the same time ...on time. It never fails, just prior to departure one always goes missing and we can't even use catnip or tuna to entice them back to the herd.
3. Keep IPODS on hand. When the little darlings begin to bicker and the decibel level in the car is close to reaching that of a jet engine idling on the tarmac, do not panic! Merely, insert ear buds into teen ears and see immediate decrease in decibel level of noise and experience immediate depressurization of parental stress. No longer is a quick game of license plate bingo going to calm the troops. Those days are over and only electronic devices will stop the cacophany. If teen IPOD use fails, insert ear buds into parent ears ...Caution: always decrease volume before inserting ear buds into parental ear canals.
4. Food, food and more food. Food in the car, food in the hotel room, food in your purse and lots of money available to buy more food when they consume all aforementioned food.
5. Friends are a parent's best friend. Keeping teens connected with friends while traveling offers a huge benefit to parents who are attempting to engage teen in meaningful conversation. Warning to parents. Nothing you have to say has any meaning after 10 days on the road. GIVE IT UP. Plug teen into nearest wifi access and allow them to get a dose of facebook.
6. Carry phone/blackberry charger with you at all times. Get used to it. Your Blackberry is NOT for your use or for communicating with business contacts or work contacts. It is to be used solely for the entertainment of bored teenagers who need to immediately search Google, check facebook or when all else fails, play brickbreaker . Warning....Battery will always be low on this device. Forget the fact that you have plugged it in at night. Remember that teens are nocturnal animals who are most active after the sun goes down and parental awareness is in REM sleep. The Blackberry will be unplugged, used and tossed aside to slowly lose charge overnight while you are blissfully sleeping and thinking that all is well.
7. Request extra towels from the front desk and hide one for personal use. Invariably, you will find yourself naked, cold and trapped in a small hotel bathroom with only a pile of used wet towels on the floor or if you are lucky one dry fresh washcloth. If you have not requested extra towels from the desk, you will have only two choices, both unacceptable...1. run naked through the room littered with lolling teens and risk searing into their retinas the vision of beauty that you aren't or 2. dry off your body with a mildewed towel retrieved from the germ infested bathroom floor and risk contracting a skin disease yet to be identified but recently associated with a fungus found in the Amazon rain forest or the Cross country lockers at the high school.
8. Take them to movies. This will buy you 2-3 hours of uninterrupted peace that you can use for personal gain or if you are so inclined to watch the movie.
9. If in the US find a Costco. Food, snacks and water are essential and the best bargains are at Costco. Also hedge the bet and while you are finding the Costco scout out the location of the nearest ER that takes your insurance
10. Keep your sense of humor and remember...the family vacation will soon be a thing of the past as the little darlings graduate and go off to college and the rest of their lives. Just like childbirth the only memories that will populate your brain will be the pleasant ones of sun filled beach holidays and delicious restaraunt meals shared with teens who are actually interested in what you have to say and who engage in planning the next trip as they politely talk amongst themselves in the back seat on the way home. STOP daydreaming while you are driving and start looking for the nearest McDonalds...the pressure in the backseat is building and the hunger is palpable...chaos is next.