Teenagers, they are a funny thing. In my experience, one minute they are still your little child, holding your hand and cuddling up to you on the sofa and then the next they want nothing to do with you and you are so embarrassing! Despite this, I actually love being a parent to teens and I find them great fun to be around. I've known from the start that my job as a parent wasn't to be their friend, it was to train and nurture them, so they grow up to be great human beings.
I know many parents have given up trying to get their hormonal teenagers to go out for the day with them, but I am persevering and as long as we have a nice treat in the cafe they tend to be quite tolerant and enjoy their time out with me.
Whilst we were on holiday in early August we headed to Beningborough Hall, a very nice National Trust site in York. I had the normal groans when I announced that we heading there, but they soon got into it and had a good time.
I thought it would useful if I shared a few tips for getting your teens to enjoy going out and spending time with you. I tend to be quite relaxed with them, as I find the tighter I try to control the outing and their behaviour, the more they want to be contrary.
Give your teen space to be who they are.
We're all different. We wouldn't expect our adult friends to like all the same things as us, so why would we expect it of our children? On the day we visited my twin teens were pretty tired and they both decided that some of the benches looked like good places to have a lie-down. Not something I'd do but they weren't hurting anyone, so why not?
Encourage them to embrace being childish.
We all need to be childish, whether we're an adult or not, it is so good for us, to have fun and to be able to laugh at ourselves. So when my girls started play fighting, climbing trees and joining in with the exercise trail that was placed around the grounds I was super happy. We always find NT sites good for getting engagement, there are often trails for kids, but adults can follow these too, and natural play equipment like balance beans etc are fun for all ages.
Set a photo challenge
As teens love their phones so much, why not set a family photo challenge? We do this fairly often and it has always been successful. Sometimes we even have a prize for the best photo. We normally agree theme or prompt and take photos of that. On this day we all took pictures of all the butterflies enjoying the buddlea. My husband one the challenge as he loves wildlife photography and has a better camera and more patience than the rest of us.
Don't make them look at everything you want to look at
I absolutely love flowers and especially taking close up photos of them, but my girls have no interest in this area, so as long as they are respectful and don't keep badgering me to move on, or moaning I'm OK if that grab a seat and relax. Or moving on to the next point, they might even choose to spend a little time on their phone or gadget.
It's OK if they have a bit of time on their phone
Most parents of teens will realise that their lifeline is their phone. Friends are so important in their formative teenage years and it feels like an eternity to them if they are away for the day, so compromise and allow them to use it for a bit whilst you're out. As I mentioned above, you do something you enjoy and let them catch up for a bit.
Try to join them with silly moments taking photos, boomerangs or Tik Tok crazes
I do love to take a selfie with my girls and they'll often show me what the latest trends are on Tik Tok or Instagram, so I enjoy making them cringe as I try to have a go. They were roaring with laughter when my husband had a go on the play park with them the other day. After time on the roundabout and zip wire, he was a bit dizzy, but we all had some fun short video clips and boomerangs.
Head for the cultural experience
I normally try to find somewhere with some culture that will engage the girls and give them a learning experience. Or if not learning, then something that invokes the senses and they can form an opinion and discuss what they've seen. At Beningborough Hall they have Saloon Galleries on the first floor of the house and you can walk through and admire the current exhibition 'five ways to wellbeing' which is curated by the Arts Council and features work from prominent artists such as Marc Chagall, Henry Moore and Tracey Emin. I wouldn't say I am particularly into art but we all enjoyed looking around these rooms.
As you can see from the photos it wasn't too busy at all in the galleries and we were able to move around without any issue and maintain good social distance. When we went in August most people were still choosing to wear masks inside.
If all else fails to engage your teenager, normally the sure-fire way to their heart is through their stomach. They have a really nice cafe called the Brew House. We had some drinks and sweet treats like the chocolate cake, brownie and cheese scone. They were all very good and we enjoyed our stop there. The courtyard outside is really lovely and nice and shady too for a warm day.
Useful Information about Beningborough Hall
Address: Beningbrough, York, North Yorkshire, YO30 1DD
Telephone Number: 01904 472027
Opening Hours: Summer hours for the gardens and restaurant are 10am - 5pm, but galleries open and close later, as does the shop. Check the website before travelling as times adjust during the year.
Prices: £13 for an adult, £6.50 for a child and £21.50 for a family. Or inclusive entry if you are an NT member.
Dogs: Are welcome on a lead in the parkland and gardens, except the walled garden and wilderness play area. Only assistance dogs are allowed in the restaurant and shop.
Accessibility: There are good accessibility arrangements available at Beninborough Hall with wheelchairs and mobility scooters that you can borrow. See the full information here.