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Living with teens in lockdown – eek!

Here are 20 things to do that might encourage your teenagers to get out of bed by midday – or at the very least by least by nightfall (fingers crossed).

What type of lockdown are your teens having? Up at the crack, then heads down for hours of school work, fulfulling hobbies, intelligent conversation, chores about the house and then a nice early night? Or does it feel like they’re demanding, uncouth guests in a lockdown hotel and virtually nocturnal? (*hands up*)

Sue, my brilliant editor for Somerset & Dorset, is currently on furlough like the rest of the world, but as the mother of 16-year-old triplets – I know, feel her pain! – there are few more qualified to offer advice on how to handle tricky teens, so I nobbled her for her tips below. Plus I’ve added my pick of 20 things for your pheromonal darlings to do over the next month if you can tear them away from their homework. Um, why are you laughing?

Sue’s Top Tips for handling tricky teens 

  • While it’s good to get into some sort of routine, don’t beat yourself up about it if they’re not filling every hour with meaningful activity – they are teenagers. Ask rather than tell (how are you going to use this time?) Might be worth mentioning that universities and employers may ask. 
  • Give them space but check in with them regularly. 
  • Maybe relax limits on screen time (they need to keep in touch with their friends more than ever now they’re not returning to school until September). 
  • If they’re worried about the virus, reassure them that’s normal. Recommend reliable sources of info about it (NHS, WHO rather than social media). 
  • If they do sneak out (inevitable now lockdown rules are being relaxed), try not to get angry but calmly explain the guidelines again.
  • Avoid the temptation to erupt if they get behind with homework. You know it’s important to hit a deadline and keep up with the pack but a teen stuck at home is inevitably more lethargic and anxious. Listen rather than immediately bowl in with solutions and involve teachers to do the dirty work instead (your teen might actually listen to them).
  • Enjoy the time you have together as a family. Teens are sweet underneath it all, just scratch the surface – or if necessary get tunnelling!


Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Learn Korean or Klingon. The free language platform Duolingo makes learning a choice of 35 languages – from Spanish, French, German and Japanese to the more eclectic Hawaiian, Navajo and, yes, Klingon – into a game. 

Solve a Rubik’s Cube. ‘Course, we know how to do it but if your teen doesn’t, he or she can find out by clicking here. 

Take a driver’s practice theory test. A teen who’s keen to get behind the wheel can test their knowledge of the Highway Code and road sense here. 

Do the Couch to 5k. Get them out of their PJs, into a pair of trainers and out into the fresh air to start building up to a 5k run over nine weeks. There are different apps around but we’ve used this Public Health England version, available for iPhone and Android. Up to six people can share – so do it together?

Walk on Mars. No space suit required. The real surface of Mars as recorded by NASA’s Curiosity rover. 

Learn to juggle. Eddie Bacon and his balls shows how it’s done.

Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Cook lunch. Agree the night before that your teens will cook lunch. Show them the ingredients (à la Ready Steady Cook), or let them decide (BBC Good Food has some easy recipes for stir-fries, pasta, pizza and more), and leave them to it. PS. They have to clear up the mess afterwards.

Sing karaoke. The family that sings together, stays together. AirConsole turns smartphones into a mic so you can all sing online. 

Become a cyber agent. Sign up for the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport’s Virtual Cyber School where 13 to 18-year-olds can learn how to crack codes, fix security flaws and dissect criminals’ digital trails in over 200 cyber challenges. Limited places, so apply now.

Fold paper. 120 origami models to make here.

Watch a film with friends. Netflix Party synchronises playback and allows you to chat via group chat added to the show. And here’s where to find over 1000 free films online. 

Decorate their bedroom. Saves you the job.

Compose. Musical youth can write their own scores. 

Listen to TED. TED-Ed is the youth branch of the famous TED Talks, with short, animated features answering questions like what’s the point(e) of ballet and inspirational speakers explaining what it means to be altruistic. 

Write letters. Stay in touch with grandparents and other rellies using good ol’ pen and paper. 

Go scuba diving. Hand over those 3D glasses you had from years ago and let them dive in amongst the tropical fish swimming around the coral reefs off Cozumel in Mexico.

Denise Jans on Unsplash

Write a screen play. Budding Quentin Tarantinos can learn the ropes on this free online scriptwriting course run by the University of East Anglia. 

Grow some veg. Luckily we have all the info they need on hand. 

Start a blog. They say WordPress is the king of free blogging sites – we should know, Muddy started as a blog before taking over the world (well OK, the UK) and are still on WordPress ourselves!

Keep calm and carry on with the meditations and mindfulness at Headspace.

Any other suggestions very gratefully received in the comments box below!

Find more ideas here


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