Monday, 21 January 2019

A home for a teenager

Teenager does her homework in her bedroomSo, you want a home for a teenager? We don’t mean that you want to ship your offspring out to a hostel for troubled kids (tempting though that may be, sometimes). We mean you want to create – or maybe buy – a home where your teenager will feel … well, at home.

Let’s think about buying a new house first. We’ll look at what you can do to adapt an existing home in another blog post later.

Many families with young teens or about-to-be-teens move house. Children growing up is a turning point in family life and often a trigger for a change of home.

Younger children can maybe share a bedroom, but as they get older this becomes a problem. For a start, they are just bigger. They physically need more space. And psychologically they want their own space. We all did, when we were their age.

You want them to have their own space as well. Partly to keep them out of your space. And partly so that you don’t have to be constantly intervening in arguments between the children about who can do what in a shared room.

And they have more ‘stuff’. They may be leaving toys behind, but they fill their lives with more things. Often more clothes as they become more design and fashion conscious.

The clothes are bigger, too. A single drawer that used to hold all of a toddler’s tee-shirts, for example, will not be big enough for many teenage tops.

So, let’s face it, you need a bigger house. One with more rooms.

You probably don’t want to move far. But the kids are now of an age where they can get a bus to school further away. Or go on their bikes. You are no longer tied to being within walking distance of the junior school.

So, you can move to a different location.

It can be as simple as that. A bigger house in a different place.

But there are some things you should perhaps look out for when house-hunting.

One is fairness. “It’s not fair” is a constant teenage complaint. And if one of your children has a room that is very much bigger than the other (or others) the complaints from those allocated the smaller rooms may have some justice.

There are ways around that.

The one with the bigger room may be expected to play and study within his or her room, for example, while the other(s) have some priority over space in family areas. But it is good to agree those bargains before you move in. While you are house-hunting, in fact.

Take the kids with you when looking at potential purchases (it is going to be their new home as well, after all). Maybe not on a first visit but when you have a shortlist for a second visit. Agree the ‘deal’ then – “Jackie gets the bigger bedroom, but John can use the dining room for studying or playing on his computer – but needs to tidy things away before bedtime”. Or something like that.

If the ‘rules’ are agreed and clear from the outset, there is less chance of argument later.

So, more rooms, certainly. But think about how they are going to be used. If you are going to expect your teenagers to use their bedrooms for play and study, the rooms need to be big enough for the appropriate furniture. A bed and wardrobe won’t meet the need any more. What about a desk? A chair?

And what about visitors? If they have friends around, do you want your living room full of noisy teenagers? Or do you want your kids to do their entertaining in their rooms? How much space and furniture will they need for that?

There can be issues there, too, as they get older. What are the ‘rules’ about visiting boyfriends/girlfriends? If the only furniture in the room is a bed …..

If your budget stretches to buying a home with a room that the kids can use for entertaining friends (on a rota basis – so one of your brood doesn’t monopolise the facility) and for doing homework, etc, you can get away with smaller bedrooms. And you will have fewer worries about what the youngsters are up to with their guests where you cannot see them.

Think about the layout of the house as well. Modern, new-built, homes are pretty well soundproofed. Older homes may be less so.

Having the family room directly under a teenage bedroom can cause problems if you want the TV or music on when you also want your offspring to be sleeping. And, similarly, that drumkit in the bedroom can be a headache (literally!) if you’re trying to read a book in the room below.

And what about location? Transport links should be a key consideration. If your teenagers’ interests (sports, dance, music – or even just socialising with their friends) require them to be in places more than a short walk away, you are going to be constantly in demand as a taxi service. A house close to a bus route that serves the most likely destinations to meet your youngsters’ needs is a good idea.

Finding a house to meet all of these requirements may not be easy. But house-hunting can be fun, especially if you involve the whole family. Including the teenagers.

Start by taking a look at some of the new-build developments on offer.

And come back to the blog later for ideas on how to make the most of teenage bedrooms, whether in a new home or your existing property.