Our youngest at 10 is relatively low maintenance. We just have to drag her off Tik Tok, find her lost library books and try to stop her walking into furniture as the clumsiest child to inhabit the earth.
We did however discover the hard way that she does in fact require at least some degree of maintenance when I had to make an emergency hair appointment after her favoured top knot hairstyle sprouted a dreadlock that had to be cut out. Poor third child.
The middle child has started high school and requires constant contact with her friends.
As a result they are always on speaker when I walk into her room to yell at her to tidy it/do her homework/unpack the dishwasher, meaning they all think I am constantly angry. Not far from the truth to be honest.
Then there’s the biggest challenge. The year 12.
This makes the newborn stage seem like a walk in the park. Although they both cry themselves to sleep.
Here’s a tip to parenting a child through their final year of high school that you can have for free if this challenge is ahead of you…
Comparing their experience to yours will not be well-received.
The “I did Maths, Physics, Chemistry, English, Legal Studies so why are you so stressed with a couple of subjects and some sort of research project that I don’t understand?” argument is always met with a storm-off and door slam.
Pointing out what time one’s 18 year old gets home from da club on a Saturday night when an assignment is due is also a no-go zone apparently.
In fact no experience that you have gained during your own life can be drawn upon as a parent of teenagers because they already know everything there is to know from watching the Insta-famous do unboxings.
So how do we look after our own health and wellbeing while we navigate these parenting challenges?
Everywhere I look the advice is to journal and meditate.
I have tried meditation. I understand the benefits and I’d like to persevere. But I can’t keep my mind clear for even a minute. It’s VERY busy in there.
Then there’s the journaling. I kept a diary as a kid that pretty much just listed whose friend’s house I wanted to have a sleepover at. These days they call that manifesting.
Mindfulness and gratitude I get. I just don’t feel the need to write it down.
You have to find what works for you and not what Oprah or Gwyneth’s latest guru tells you works.
What I need is sleep, exercise and alcohol-free days. Oh, and treats.
Sleep is the toughest box to tick for me, working breakfast radio hours. But watch me nap for Australia. That’s my meditation.
Exercise has always been a big part of my life. I know how bloody annoying that sounds, sorry. It’s ok, I don’t do it every day, I’m not a monster. But on the days when I force myself to do it I never regret it. They’re onto something with that endorphin gear.
As for alcohol-free days, well that’s self-explanatory if not always achievable.
Then there’s the treats. I found myself home alone for an hour on a rare Sunday afternoon recently. The washing and dishes were done. Also rare. Thanks to Nicola’s lockdown tips my drawers were decluttered. I lit a candle that smelled like success, hopped under a blanket with some salt and vinegar chips and watched The White Lotus.
If I had a gratitude journal that would have gone to the top of the list for sure.
So whatever it is you need to fill up your cup, do that. Do it without guilt or excuses or explanations. Be unapologetic about the volume of your cup.