I slammed the door and crumpled to the bathroom floor yesterday in my robe. I was sick and my kids’ bathroom was a mess. They’d missed the trash about 100 times, the toilet was clogged, and there were three tiny bowls sitting in the sink (my daughter like to make face masks out of food).
I sobbed into my hands. I felt the cold floor under my bum and legs but I didn’t care because it felt a hell of a lot better than looking at that mess. Then, I put a wad of tissues in my pocket and rage cleaned the whole house (except for that bathroom), and sent them each a nasty text telling them to get their act together.
Oh, I threw a threat too. I’m good like that. It was what I needed to do in that moment in order to cope with being a mother of teens. I’ve found these past years, there are more survival tactics that are required to this job than I thought.
Mom of Teens Survival Tactics
1. Sit in a parking lot with music blasting while staring out the window.
There is nothing wrong with staring into space with rap music blaring sucking back a coffee or soda. This is how moms of teens hit their restart buttons. It works; for a spell, anyway.
2. Make sure we always have cash on us.
You always need it so just stop by the ATM. They need money at all times whether it’s something to buy at school, movie tickets, gas money, or they are staying home and decide they need a pizza at 10:30 at night and have their license. They are going to take your cash. ALL. OF. IT.
3. Buy two of everything when it comes to food since you never know how many kids are going to be at your house.
Teenage company has a way of multiplying. You learn very quickly it’s important to buy two of everything: frozen pizzas, jars of peanut butter, and two things of toilet paper– just trust me on this one.
4. Get a good therapist.
Maybe for them, maybe for you. But let’s be honest here, probably one for each of you. Your family doesn’t have to have huge issues to need a little therapy. Therapy has helped my teens by giving them a safe place to vent and tools to deal with the stress and anxiety inherent in being their age.
5. Remember how much you were like them and hope they don’t try all the things you did.
It’s easy to look at our kids and see ourselves in them. I find my toes curling every time my kids go out telling myself I have to trust them until they give me a reason not to. Just because I said I was going to a football game and I was really drinking wine coolers in the back of a car doesn’t mean they are.
6. Learn to play video games in order to bond with them.
Even if you don’t like video games, most teens do. You will learn to play (and like it), simply so you can spend time with them. We all know the things teens actually want to do with us are limited and we need to work with the resources at hand.
7. Swear like a sailor.
Even if you never swore in your life, you may find yourself cursing all over the damn place just to relieve some of the stress. There will also be times a cuss word slips out of your mouth unconsciously because you are left in utter dismay at some of the things your teens do.
8. Coffee, wine, repeat.
You should probably start the day with some caffeine to keep up with their busy schedules. Then, you end the day with a little vino or beer to calm your nerves and try and block out what you saw under their bed.
This is a must–even if you are running around like an Uber driver. You realize very quickly that you have to put water in your pot in order to keep your garden tended. Also, we need to model self care and love to our teens. We tell them not to run themselves ragged, and we need to lead by example.
10. Hang onto our friends very tight.
You need to vent. You need to go out and eat nachos. A good friend to stress shop with is priceless and there’s no healer like a good texting sesh with a friend when the time is tight. This is the time in your life when you know how important friends are– especially since your kids will be leaving the nest soon.
11. Remind yourself to breathe (very deeply).
Never have I ever had to remind myself to breathe. Then I had a teenager. Then another and another. I have to remind myself to not only breath every day, I have to take very deep ones before I lose my marbles at least once a week.
Speaks for itself-it’s going to happen and when it does refer back to number 11.
13. Let them fail.
This is the hardest part but we know it’s essential in order for them to evolve and learn. It does feel easier to swoop in and do it for them without making them learn the lesson or clean up the mess, but we know how ineffective that is.
Some of these coping mechanisms have come after some hard lessons. And some have literally saved me (like my friends and deep breaths) so I have no choice but to keep them in my life.
One thing is certain: without these thirteen coping mechanisms, I would not be the mother I am today.
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Are you the parent of a teen? The Grown and Flown book is for you!