We think parenting gets easier during the teen years, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why self-care for moms of teens is so important.
I was lying on the couch one evening, falling asleep while watching tv, when my son came through the door after being out with his friends. He was in a great mood and clearly had energy as he came over and plopped himself pretty much on top of me.
I love it when he lets his guard down and is loveable like this. It doesn’t come as often as it used to, so I always soak in these moments no matter how tired I am.
He suggested we watch a movie and stay up late together, which is one of our favorite things to do. But I yawned and sighed and told him I was too tired to do it that night.
He countered by giving me a hug and with a sly smile, he said something he knew would convince me. “You know I won’t be home for long, and you’ll miss me when I’m gone.”
Now, what’s a mom to do with that?
It’s Hard to Say No to a Teen Who Wants to Spend Time With You–Even If It’s Past Your Bedtime
He is always confident that saying these kinds of things will work to get his way. He’ll often use this phrase when he wants me to do something with him that would overextend me. He knows how important spending time with him is to me and that I miss my older college kid terribly.
So, I try to hold on to every minute I have with my last baby here at home before he’s gone too. And usually, if my kids want to spend time with me, I’d do just about anything to be with them anyway.
We had a blast staying up late and watching a movie together, which was well worth the exhaustion I felt the next day.
But I knew I would need to make time for a power nap or go to bed early to catch up on my sleep. When I’m really tired, I struggle with just about everything. And the older I get, the more I desperately need to be well-rested, or I risk getting run-down and sick.
Parents of teens often burn the candle at both ends
As moms of teens, we can sacrifice a lot for our kids. We pour a ton of our energy and time into showing up to all their sporting events, activities, performances, and awards ceremonies.
We buy their favorite snacks and make their favorite meals. We act as a sounding board on their challenges and a counselor to guide them through their days.
We stay up late at night waiting for them to get home and wake up at the crack of dawn to begin another day of doing it all again.
Raising teens can be so emotionally draining and physically depleting, but it’s exciting and fun too. Parenting during this season can take us through all kinds of unpredictable twists and turns that consume a lot of our lives.
They say it’s important to stay home during the early years of childhood, but it’s also important to be available to your teens too, and sometimes we can lose ourselves and put ourselves last.
Finding balance while raising teenagers can be challenging
Many of us raising tweens and teens are also in the mid-life phase, often called the sandwich generation. We’re trying to balance launching our teens while caring for our aging parents.
We have to balance many things that require our attention, and if you’re anything like me, those areas can sometimes get neglected.
But it’s really important that we make room for our pursuits as well as maintain our health and well-being.
Three simple reasons moms (and dads) of teens need to take care of themselves during these years:
When we are well-rested and less stressed, we are better parents.
When I’m overwhelmed and exhausted, it affects my parenting decisions, and definitely not for the better.
I know when I am stressed out and tired, I am a less patient and practical parent.
I know when I’ve hit the wall, and I have nothing positive to give my kids. I can be irritable and short with them when I really should be gracious and flexible. I don’t listen as well or give them the support and attention they need.
I’m pretty transparent, so I will often tell them when I’ve reached my limit and can’t be the mom I want to be.
That’s why I try to take time for self-care and do what I can to maintain both my physical and mental health while balancing all the various demands in my life.
This might mean letting go of some things that I just don’t have the time or energy to do so that I have more of myself to give to my kids. It can also mean I sacrifice time with my kids to meet my own needs and do something to restore my own mental or physical health.
Prioritizing what’s most important every day, then letting go of the rest requires some intentional planning and discipline. It’s always a challenge to do, but I try the best I can because I know when I’m managing things well, I am a much better mom.
We need (and deserve) to build our own lives while helping our kids build theirs.
This parenting job is a life-long marathon, but we are nearing the final stretch of the road when our kids will soon leave home.
While we spend much of our time raising our kids and preparing them for the next season, we also need to build our own lives independent from them. When we are pursuing our careers,investing in other relationships, and enjoying various outlets and hobbies, we are doing valuable and fulfilling work for ourselves that is necessary. Both of my kids are well aware of many important priorities in my life that don’t include them.
Spending our time and energy on things that fuel and feed us keeps us excited for the future and not dependent on our kids for our happiness. We need to set personal goals and work toward accomplishing them. And we also deserve to have fun and relaxing and restful activities too.
When our kids leave home, our parenting roles change. The day-to-day demands will disappear, leaving us more room and space in our lives. It is good to have many fulfilling and significant things in place.
Most importantly, our kids are learning a lot from watching us take care of ourselves and balancing our lives
When I tell kids I can’t do something for them or be somewhere they want me to be, they understand because they know, sometimes their mom needs to do things for herself instead of for them.
They have watched me through the years of parenting, and despite the countless times I neglected my own needs for them, they have also seen me taking care of myself.
They know to be quiet if I need a nap and that sometimes I can’t fix dinner or take them somewhere because I have plans with a friend.
They know that the house needs to be cleaned, and they need to stay clear for my Monday night women’s group and Friday night Couples group.
They know I may not be home in the afternoon because that’s when I take my regular walks.
And they understand that when I’m stressed out and need to shut down for a while, I need to have my alone time to get restored.
Teaching self-care to our teens is a gift
Our kids must see us taking care of ourselves and investing our time and energy into other pursuits we enjoy, so they learn how to do the same for themselves.
I love that my teens learned the benefits of a power nap and how important it is to make room for rest.
They have also learned that to have a productive and fulfilling life, you need to pursue various activities that help you develop new skills and discover new interests.
My college kid has mastered the art of balancing her busy life full of so many important things on her own. I love watching her navigate her work, classes, and new social life while also finding time to rest.
As moms, we can all set a good example by how we live our lives that will influence our kids as they begin to build theirs.
If there’s anything our kids need to learn, it’s how to take care of themselves in this crazy world that can pull them in so many directions and push them to neglect their health.
As moms, we may not do it perfectly or even at all on some days. But when we honor our physical and mental health and work toward goals that mean something to us, we show our kids how to live a fulfilling and healthy life.
After all, that’s really what we want most for our kids when they become adults.
Are you in the thick of raising your tweens and teens? You may like this book by Whitney Fleming, the co-owner of Parenting Teens & Tweens: Loving Hard When They’re Hard to Love: Essays about Raising Teens in Today’s Complex, Chaotic World.
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