Children

7 Things Single Parents Must Do to Keep Their Sanity with Teenagers

7 Things Single Parents Must Do to Keep Their Sanity with TeenagersBeing a single parent to little kids ain’t easy. Being one to teenagers? Even harder. For most parents this is uncharted territory that comes with a whole new style of stress that is so different from how parenting was before the dreaded thirteen benchmark was breached. It doesn’t help that we so often try to compensate as single parents by trying to be Super Mom or Super Dad and do it all.

You have a lot on your plate, but it is crucial that you still take some time for yourself. Otherwise you can be sure of burnout nipping at your heels. This will make you a less effective parent and a more stressed person, in general.

Here are seven things you can do to keep your sanity through the teen years, by making some adjustments to your priorities.

Find The Humor In It – Next time you are getting ready to confront the kids, save your breath. Try and laugh it off and let it go. It saves you time and stress.

Don’t Panic – Tempted to fly off the handle and begin panic-fixing all the issues your teen just brought you? Go for a walk. Cool off. You will probably find a better solution that won’t take so much effort.

Let Them Fail – It is ten at night and your teen just told you they had a science project due. Don’t come to the rescue, sacrificing your sleep to get them out of the bind. Let them fail…it is a good life lesson.

Start Giving More Responsibility – Don’t have any time to take for yourself? Start handing more responsibility to your teen. Not only does this free up your schedule, but it begins to prepare them for the adult world they are rapidly approaching.

Balance Parenting With Friendship – You are their parent, not their friend. Right? Well, you can actually be both. By looking at the time you spend with your teens as also being pleasant time with friends, you may find yourself relaxing more in their presence.

Have “Office Hours” – Obviously, important matters have to be addressed right away. But short of that, set times when you are “in the office” and times when you are “out of the office”. When you’re out, they fend for themselves.

Get Active and Stay Active – Yoga, running, swimming, hiking, sports, weight lifting…whatever if it you enjoy that keeps you active, get out there and do it. Not only is this great “me” time, but it is a way to stay healthy, relieve stress and improve things like sleep and energy levels.

Having teenagers is stressful, but it is also an opportunity to begin taking better care of your own needs. By taking some time for yourself you will be a more effective parent and happier, healthier and ready for anything thrown your way.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

 

Banish First-Day Jitters: Tips for Heading Back to School

tildaWho doesn’t love the magic that only summer vacation promises? However, as those relaxing summer days come to an end, it’s never too early to talk and listen to your children about their hopes and concerns for the first day of school. First-day jitters are normal for kids and their parents. Often, it’s the fear of the unknown and those “what-ifs” that jangle the nerves. Incorporate these suggestions as the summer’s end marches closer.

Out with the Old  

Set aside a day or two to go through last year’s clothing and supplies to see what works; make piles of items to keep, toss, and donate. Check with local churches or other organizations to find back-to-school supply and clothing drives; donate your child’s outgrown and gently used things.

Plan and Adjust Those Schedules  

Many kids scale back extracurricular activities during the summer. As late August approaches, tackle logistics by sitting down with everyone to coordinate each day. Use a dry-erase weekly calendar to track activities. Discuss educational nuts and bolts like homework routines so they’re kept consistent. For older kids and families, synch everyone’s calendar apps so you’re all on the same page. If your kiddo plays a sport or has a job, make sure to account for the time those activities require while also ensuring your child gets enough sleep.

Easier (If Not Happier) Mornings  

Elementary-aged kids need at least 10 hours of sleep each night. Before school resumes, start your kiddo on a regular bedtime and wake-up routine to reduce first-day stress. Pack lunches and backpacks, and lay out outfits the night before. Plan breakfasts ahead of time, too.

Back-to-School Prep  

Not much trumps the excitement of shopping for brand new school supplies. Get the kids involved! Schedule a date day to take your kiddo shopping for new clothing and shoes; make it extra-special with a “just the two of you” lunch or ice cream treat to celebrate a new beginning — and all those new supplies and clothes!

Many school supply lists include a request for headphones. Many over-the-ear options, which are better for little ears, are relatively inexpensive; you can find a good pair for less than $100. It’s a worthwhile investment your kiddo can use while listening to music, playing online games, or completing online exercises for school.

Help Calm Anxiety  

When your child’s a bit anxious about his new teacher or new school, stay positive. Attend an open house, especially if it’s scheduled before the new year starts, so you and your child can meet the new teacher and get acclimated to the school. Encourage your kiddo to get excited about the new year by reminding him about past trips, projects, and fun events — and upcoming opportunities to learn cool stuff this year.

Know other kids in your child’s class? Set up a few playdates before school’s back in session so that the kids can reconnect. It’s a great way to rekindle friendships, especially if the kids haven’t seen each other all summer.

Smoothing the Transition for Younger Students  

Younger children who are moving to a different school or starting school for the first time have other fears and anxieties that you calm with these suggestions.

If your kiddo attended the same school last year but has moved to a new grade/new teacher, remind her of the routine, and invite her to share the differences and fun changes to anticipate. If it’s her first year, visit the school a few times — check out the playground and see if it’s open and whether you can take a tour, even if you’ll attend orientation. The more she sees the school, the less she’ll worry on the first “official” day.

Create a goodbye routine that may include a special goodbye phrase. Plan something special to celebrate the end of the first day — a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies waiting at home or dinner at her favorite restaurant.

Although it’s still too soon time to trade swimsuits for backpacks, remind your kids that the upcoming school year promises a different kind of discovery, exploration, and fun — and that nerves are normal, too!

Author of this article, Tilda Moore, researches and writes about educational resources for openeducators.org. She is passionate about helping parents and teachers in providing kids with the best education possible. She works directly with teachers and other public education groups to ensure they are working toward our vision of constructing a reliable database of verified information

 

How To Help Children Going Through Grief During Divorce

It may appear that children are adjusting well to their parents’ divorce, however they may be going through grief and hiding it. They do not want to be an extra burden to stressed-out parents. The youngsters’ world is being torn apart and they may be struggling. We are preoccupied with out divorce proceedings and can miss what is really going on with the kids. Through no fault of their own, the children often have to pack up their possessions for a move which may entail going to a new school. Divorce involves loss which includes financially, possibly resulting in a few activities having to be eliminated.

The stages of grief, according Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross who wrote the classic book On Death and Dying, are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. At first, youngsters can be in shock hearing the divorce news, especially when a couple drifted apart without a flaming row. Give them some space and a little time to absorb this new situation. The kids need time to process their emotions and realize what aspects of their lives will remain unchanged. It helps to have them talk to a neutral third party, especially when in denial, thinking the separation will blow over and their parents will be getting back together. Children may be in denial because the future looks uncertain. Having a divorce book for children, such as Soila Sindiyo’s When Love is Broken can be reassuring.

The kids may be quite angry, act out, or voice the unfairness of it all. Accept that anger is a natural part of the grief cycle, for both parents and offspring. It is how anger is expressed which is important. Going around the house smashing china is not okay, but sparring with a punching bag is. Give the wee ones opportunities to release anger through physical activities. Allow extra playtime in the park or taking up a sport. Venting to a family friend or teacher can be cathartic for the children.

Explain that while the marital relationship is ending, you both will be co-parenting together. It is crucial to let kids know that they are in no way responsible for their parents’ break up. In the bargaining stage, kids may think “If only I do… then my parents will stay together.” Help youngsters not to blame themselves for the divorce and to accept that they cannot fix the marriage. Divorce is happening.

Depression is often defined as anger turned inwards. Children may feel helpless and become depressed. They may experience sadness especially in a prolonged, acrimonious divorce. The kids may hide depression and just go along with the program. If seeming out of sorts, consider having them meet with a professional for at least one session to assess how they are coping. One of my sons was diagnosed with depression during divorce and had therapy to get him through it. He is a jovial fellow now.

Eventually kids come to acceptance in the grief cycle. They realize that divorce is not just dark storm clouds, but also ones with a silver lining. My father remarried a few years after divorce and as an only child, I was delighted to acquire an instant extended family. That was my silver lining. My new grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins treated me as one of the tribe.

There are ways to help kids move through divorce. Plan special outings – such as going to a carnival (my son’s suggestion), an amusement park or playground. We watched comedies, walked in parks, went bowling and had some adventures. My late mum loved traveling, so the boys and I accompanied her on cruises during and post-divorce. There is nothing like the sea air to get one out of the doldrums. See what works out best for your situation, such as taking up a sport together. Keep the lines of communication open and encourage youngsters to express their feelings. It helps people to know that experiencing grief during divorce is normal and life does get better.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine   thedivorcemagazine.co.uk