How I survived three teens x 120 learner driving hours!

A mother is supervising her daughter as a learner driver in NSW.

Learner Driving.. Ok so I survived! And I’m done!

Yes you heard me! Done with learner driver hours … every single one of those 120 hours required to sit your test for a provisional licence in New South Wales. First hand, I’ve navigated three teens in very close succession through those learner driver hours. And after what felt like some white knuckle moments and a few more grey hairs … I now have three teen/young adult drivers on the road …. !

As a seasoned passenger-turned-instructor to three kids, I’ve got quite the story to tell. Strap in as I take you through the laughter, stress, and triumphs of those three lots of 120 hours of required driving practice with each of my darling kids!.

How I survived Learner Driving in NSW

Let’s kick things off with funny situations. The stuff the handbook doesn’t tell you about. The important stuff. Well important to them anyhow!

Ok so here I am, first time around,  newbie parent teaching teen learner drivers in Sydney. You would think they need to concentrate, so you need quiet in the car.  Hush, quiet, concentrate, don’t talk, let them focus so they can hear and actually listen to your instructions. 

First double mistake there. 

Teenager listen to a parent …. Well I’m sure you’re all sitting there laughing and nodding … what planet are you on that you would think that a teenanger would listen to a parent! 

Especially around driving. 

Well here I am explaining to each that they are behind the wheel of a weapon, and they need to actually listen to my instructions when I say “slow down” or “you’re too close”. The typical reply is along the lines, “I know … I know … I know ….” at an increasing crescendo tone!

Music is so important in Learner Driving

But even more frustrating is the fact that they are typically more concerned or interested in the MUSIC choice. Yes, once the seat is adjusted, the mirrors tipped into the right position, well then the next focus of my teen learner drivers is the music. And not just the radio. Depending on which child was learning to drive, there was a very wide variety of music choice. Some of which are really NOT my style. Especially the style of music with LOTS of expletives, which are repeated loudly and the volume is up. No wonder the teen can just keep saying “I know …” when you tell them where to drive … they can’t actually hear you over the cacophony of rap music! 

As is looking cool and the part

Vanity …. Looking in the rear view mirror regularly checking their hair, how they looked driving, and whether they had the right sunglasses on to look cool!

It’s actually about teaching driving

So the fine balance I needed to find was keeping them, me and other drivers on the road calm and safe. By encouraging my aspiring drivers, not rousing on them. And at times clearly I withheld my anxiety, as they needed to stay calm too! So I learned to reframe my language from things like “don’t speed” into “slow down”, suggest alternate routes when the traffic looked grim, chose to practise out of peak hour traffic for a long time till they were competent …. That was a scheduling stroke of genius! And also not taking them driving when either of us were tired. There were a few lessons for them with driving instructors along the way, and also the NSW driver safe training program which was excellent all round.

Ah yes … the Grab Handle!

But the funniest habit all three of my kids picked up on really quickly was when they were driving and either going around a roundabout or turning, I would raise my hand up to hold the “grab handle” – you know the one at the top of the car door. And while I didn’t say it at the time, I would literally be holding on for my sanity, security and safety. Every one of my three teens absolutely hated it when I did that – and they would comment literally immediately! Why are you doing that? It’s making me feel so stressed! Who would have thought. 

So then I went back to sitting on my hands at times …. Funny now, but at the time it wasn’t so much fun!

Time the length of your practice drives

The other little insight I learned was that they each seemed to want to practise driving for longer, but at around 45-50 mins, they started to get a bit snappy. And while they all wanted to keep driving, it certainly didn’t get any more pleasant after an hour! So I learned to set out the expectations from the beginning that I had a one hour window of practice driving time only, and then we had to stop. It took me a while to figure that out, but once I did, I nailed that stressor for me in the bud!

And there were a few scraped tyres along the way …. Or that roundabout that they cornered a little too fast. 

But it wasn’t all fun and games. Long stretches of road became our training ground, where we learned the importance of maintaining a steady speed and practicing safe driving habits.


Parking with learner drivers … folding bollards … or padded bumper accessories?

And then of course, there’s the parking.

How to teach learner drivers how to park 101!

Ok so this is where you need to hold your breath (or actually probably more accurately, take a deep breath before you start!)





Is tricky!

Whether it was parallel parking on a crowded street or squeezing into a tight spot at the local shopping centre, we tackled each challenge head-on (with varying degrees of success).

Ok and parking in Sydney has just upped the ante to a new level!

So today when I parked just outside my local cafe at Sydney’s iconic and spectacular Bondi Beach, I saw something very funny that made me almost cry with laughter! It was a new car accessory that I had never seen before! It was bumper bar crash padding! I kid you not! It was an accessory that you strap onto your bumper bar, like padded armour, to make sure either you, or someone else, doesn’t run into your bumper bar! 

I only wish I had known about these accessories when teaching my teens how to drive! Seriously bumper bar padding would have come in very handy when teaching them how to reverse park without rear cameras! Normally I would have suggested protect all your property assets with bollards around the place when learner drivers are in sight, but this – well it’s like your own portable and personalised soft parking bollards!

Parking guidance cameras and accessories

So these days most cars have rear view cameras all over them. But I decided to go old school with my three teens. And I taught them how to drive on a much more basic vehicle. Without the luxury of rear and side cameras all over the car. With the kindness of my father’s old and very well loved 15 year old little hatchback, they learned to park. If only I knew about this padded bumper accessory before as well! It would have definitely come in handy when teaching them to reverse park!

Their reverse parking wasn’t quite old school touch parking but often felt like it! 

I often thought of carrying a portable folding bollards with me on those early driving lesson journeys. Just so I could stand out and put it outside to protect the car behind – or the building asset so there was no risk they would reverse into it!

Now it makes me think what other car accessories are out there like this to protect against pesky parkers …. ! No doubt the topic for another fun post!

Reverse parking, in particular, became the stuff of now where is that bottle of patience I need a gallon of!  As my knuckles whitened and my hair felt like it was instantly greying, I held on with gritted teeth and tried to be calm. With patience and perseverance (and maybe a few choice words muttered under my breath), we eventually mastered the art of backing into a parking space without damaging any other cars,  or buildings. But a lot of the time, I just wished I could have them drive into one of the many parking spots around sydney that our fitted with our thatsmyspot parking space protectors!

Learner Driving Supervision in NSW

Of course, Supervising a learner driver lesson wouldn’t be complete without a healthy dose of stress. As a mother, it took every ounce of self-control to remain calm in the face of this journey. But through a combination of –

  • deep breathing (definitely in my part), 
  • the multiple encouraging pep talks, 
  • the regular use of the words “slow down” and 
  • enduring way more rap music than I would ever want to hear! 

we managed to keep our cool and make it through even the most nerve-wracking situations.

Access learner driver safe driving programs

And let’s not forget about teenage driving—the ultimate test of patience and nerves. From enforcing the “don’t speed, don’t this, don’t that” mantra to scheduling safe driver training courses. Resources like the NRMA including membership (for NRMA roadside assist) are an excellent help and guide. But with each completed logbook entry, we inched closer to the finish line. And now finally, all three of my kids got their driver’s licenses [1] [2]

For those of embarking on their own journey of teaching teens to drive in Sydney, there are lots of rules. Learner drivers in NSW need to learn the New South Wales Learner Road Rules to obtain their licence. With a blend of patience, laughter, and a healthy dose of perseverance, you’ll navigate those Sydney streets in no time. 

So its handover … driving and parking on their own

Now, as they embark on their newfound freedom behind the wheel, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride. (Mixed with a healthy dose of trepidation!). Will they remember everything I’ve taught them? Will they resist the urge to blast their music and focus on the road ahead? Only time will tell.

But one thing’s for sure—those 120 hours of driving practice were worth every white-knuckled moment. It meant I got to spend 120 hours one-on-one with each of my teens. Time that I probably wouldn’t have had the gift of otherwise. With teenage life being so busy, friends, distractions, social media, study. Parents tend to be relegated to the “back seat” so to speak. That captive time I spent individually with each of my teens is a gift, for which I am truly grateful. Before they spread their wings and fly off independently as young adults.

And for a plug for my business, protect your parking spots protected from teenage drivers parking in them! Be sure to Buy parking bollards Sydney to secure your parking spot!

And as for me? Well, now that my kids have their licenses, I can finally sit back and relax. Occasionally I can ask them to run the occasional errand for me or drop me off to an event! Good luck with that, indeed!