Family

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

 

Tips On Finding Summer Programs For Children

Summer is here and the yearly dilemma for parents can be what to with the children. Many single parents rely on school and after care while they are at work. When school is not in session, this can be a challenge. Non-profits can offer summer programs at low cost to fill this gap. An accountant mentioned that summer programs can be eligible for a “Child independent care credit” when a working parent has an income. This means that some of the money spent on programs counts as child care for a tax break.

A rabbi whom I interviewed, suggested calling one’s local synagogue or Jewish Community Center (JCC) to see what is being offered for children. She said that there were sleep-away camps, particularly in the Northeast. A woman at the JCC, said in larger communities there are day programs. The JCC can also be a resource for what else is available where one resides. The Protestants and Catholics have Vacation Bible School which gives parents a break when they need some child care.

There are non-religious options, such as The Boys and Girls Clubs. The one I contacted charges $700 for the entire summer or $350/month. This is all day sessions which includes food and many activities. Local community colleges and recreation centers have their own programs which can be a little less than other day camps. There are programs for special interests, such as chess camp, with a low fee so that all can attend. These people do it for the love of chess (or whatever it is) and to get youngsters excited about it too.

Summer provides the chance to take advantage of the special family events around town. Go to street fairs and festivals to enjoy the lively atmosphere, music and great food. This is almost like being on vacation in Greece, Africa or other exotic locales. Many parks have concerts which is a nice opportunity to have a picnic with the kids. Some cities show movies outside with food carts nearby. Play tourist in your own city. It is amazing how many people have not been to museums, the planetarium, zoo or other attractions right on their own door step. Go to a larger metropolis nearby or the countryside for a change of scenery. There is an artist colony on the periphery of our city. My sons and I feel as if we have been on vacation after browsing through the offbeat shops and indulging on homemade ice cream plus other treats.

Get away, whether it is to the shore, lakeside cabin or a farm nearby. My mother took me to Wildwood, New Jersey every summer. Swimming in the ocean and walking along the boardwalk created lasting memories for me. When parents and other relatives live out of town, going for a visit can be an affordable adventure. There are new places for the kids to discover. My sons were thrilled to visit a farm near the city where my mother lived. The tractor and fabulous milkshakes were an extra bonus. They picked blueberries and strawberries which is not possible on their home turf. What may seem like a mundane activity to you can be a unique experience for your child.

Some single parents send their children to their parents for a chunk of the summer and use that time to work extra hours. They accumulate more time off to spend with their youngsters upon their return. Or, when their offspring is with the other parent, they put in overtime and have more days off with the little ones. My mother sent me to sleep away camp for several weeks every summer and worked during that period. I had a blast and she was off when I was home. Camps can be pricy, so perhaps make them a special treat and not the main course for their summer break.

A young teenager may be too old for summer programs and too young for employment. Parents in this case recommended a membership to the local pool or recreation center. This gets them out of the house and interacting with others. Some children’s museums and other program invite this age group to be a junior intern and entertain the young campers. My sons did the summer reading programs at our library with other activities, such as magic shows. Young teens were on hand to make this program a success. These individuals can be volunteers for various charities during their summer break. My sons volunteered with a cat rescue group and that encouraged me to become one too.

Make the most of each moment during the summer, because one day your little ones will be in their twenties just as my sons are now.

My article was originally printed in DivorceForce   https://www.divorceforce.com/   Affected by Divorce? Join DivorceForce, the online community committed to empowering those affected by divorce. Many helpful articles for those facing divorce.   @divorceforce (Twitter)