You never know what is around the corner in life, and what demands your big shoulders will need to carry. But one thing you can count on – those tweens and teens will always look to you to lead the way. The nature of parenting is that everything goes better when big adults are one step ahead. Which is easier said than done when we have birthed creative, strong willed children who are always pushing forward.
Self-care (keeping your sanity care) isn’t easy during demanding seasons, and parenting a tween or teen is definitely classes as a demanding season. I’d go as far as saying self-care is near impossible if we aren’t intentional about it. The more we deliberately we care for our own needs, the easier it will be to show up with that in-charge energy that keeps our homes humming.
I like to use the term in-charge energy to describe the presence you need to be the big person in kid’s lives. For me, this term conjures up images of parents whose batteries are “fully charged”. Their light is switched “on”. In this blog I want to share three of the great benefits of in-charge energy, and how to use it in order to help your kids thrive.
When we are out at our best, we more easily emotionally connect with our children. Yet when we are tired or drained, emotional connection is the first thing we want to bypass. We lose tolerance for the journey – the endless reassurance, the bickering, the stresses about schoolwork and the complaining about being bored. And once children don’t feel heard, and felt, acting out is one sure way to get out attention.
Set High, but Realistic Expectations
When we are drained we are most likely to be impatient, unreasonable or demanding. We are more likely to set unrealistic expectations or do quite the opposite – ask our kids to do five things instead of once. In-charge energy is clear headed. It enables us to clearly outline the next realistic step.
Seal the Deal
The final thing that in-charge energy enables you to do is deal the seal. None of us need to be wasting energy trying to get simple, daily requests over the line, but there is an art to getting kids working with you, not against you.
During my time in alternative education I always ended my requests with a big, bold statement which goes like this. The only response I will accept right now is – yes Miss.
“Yes Miss” eliminated unnecessary options, which cluttered outcomes. It created a clear, predetermined path, which makes it easier for young ones during moments of lots of intense emotion.
There is always a split-second moment where I wondered – Will they all me to guide them? Do they trust me enough to follow my lead? Will they push back? But I stood behind “yes miss” time and time again. And to my surprise it usually worked WHEN it was accompanied by fresh, in-charge energy. Kids, even my toughest boys, responded to a big adult presence. If our children allow us to be in control, at a moment when they feel out of control, we get to do the heavy lifting thinking for them.
There are lots and lots of time where we have conversations, and debate and discuss ideas with my kids, but there are a few times each day when “yes mum” is the only thing I accept and expect to hear. I tell them this up front. I am about to give you a “yes mum” request.
Slam dunking my example all the way to the finish line.
How In-Charge Energy Works
The success of “yes miss” is determined by a few things working together. The first and foundational element is a parent’s energy. For you to be able to implement the in-charge trio with confidence, you need all of your weight behind it. That means you have to take care of yourself and have enough me-time to replenish your own needs, so you show up for your kids with the sure, strong confidence that you need to get things over the line.
That energy can then be challenged towards emotional connection and setting realistic expectations. If you have connected and communicated clearly, there will be less resistance. The three have to work together.
Looking After You
For right now self-care is working the basics. It’s the getting to bed on time, escaping into some me-time every day, making sure you eat well and stay hydrated, and allowing time for play. It’s giving yourself what you would ideally desire to give your kids – I find that a good benchmark to strive towards. That’s one thing you can count on.
It’s easy to convince ourselves that we need long periods of time to self-care, or the perfect circumstances. It’s easy to talk ourselves out of seizing brief moments if we don’t understand that they are accumulative. You don’t need hours and hours (and you don’t often have hours and hours). They don’t stand alone. It all adds up!!!
5 minutes + 2 minutes + 8 minutes + 5 minutes = starts to add up to something significant.