We can love our teens with all our hearts and be mentally exhausted. The two aren’t mutually exclusive and we don’t need to feel bad about complaining, venting, or fantasizing about running away from home for a bit.
It’s hard enough to get through everyday life without thinking about the big picture items like making sure your kids are mentally healthy and they are learning all the life skills they will need to succeed. Parenting is definitely the toughest job we’ll ever have and we strive to do it well because we love our kids and we want them to become responsible adults who have great lives. (And be able to take care of us when we are old).
I have always been an organization freak
I’ve always been a bit of an organization freak. I was just born this way. When I was younger, I had to share a room with a very messy sister and sometimes I’d cry because she wouldn’t make her bed or clean up her clothes.
My closet is color coordinated and my pantry is super organized. Obviously I don’t expect my kids to be on the same page in the organization department (they so aren’t) because I realize not everyone is as compulsive as I am. But it is important to me to try to teach them about life-organization.
I notice that when my teens get stressed, it’s often a result of issues that stem from lack of organization. They feel out of sorts, they aren’t able to focus, and the tiniest things throw them. I firmly believe that they would feel a lot better about things if they had all their ducks in a row.
Five tips to help teens get organized
I’ve shown my kids a few tips to help keep their life organized, and consequently a little less stressful.
1. Break your day into sections
I started doing this when I first had children. I knew there were certain things I needed to do in order to feel like I had some control over my life. I found that I always felt better if things I needed to do were completed. And I made sure to get in a half hour of exercise and a shower.
I figured out that if I got the things I didn’t love doing out of the way first, I always felt better. If I let things pile up, they soon became monumental and I would get agitated.
I’ve told my teens if you chip away at things every day, whether it’s a goal you are excited about, or just things that have to get done, your quality of life will improve. Feeling in control makes you happier and more confident. The way to gain control is planning and working on a big project one doable chunk at a time.
A school project become much less daunting if you spend a certain amount of time each day working on it.
2. Stop and take a breather
This is something I think we all need to work on. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed when everything is coming at you. Teens experience this probably even more dramatically than adults with demands from school, friends, college applications, work.
The other day I could tell my daughter was going to the bad place– she had a few big school assignments due and had just started Driver’s Education so she had to read two chapters.
She was trying to tackle it all in at once. I told her to take a break even though she wanted to keep going. I convinced her that a milkshake, a car ride and some time away from her work might make her feel reenergized.
3. Talk to someone
Sometimes a good conversation with someone you trust can helps. It certainly doesn’t make your problems disappear, but talking is therapeutic and listening to someone else can be such a great distraction.
I’ve told my teens time and time again not to forget the power of talking (or asking for help) to someone they trust. Even if it’s not me, it’s better to bounce ideas off of another person. It helps you feel grounded and can bring things into perspective.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since my divorce is in order to feel organized (most of the time) I need to talk and ask for help. It’s been a game-changer.
Prioritizing is something our kids need help with. Even my son who is a senior gets caught up in things and forgets to stop and think about what needs to be done today and what can wait. Maybe that report can be done tomorrow if that means he can get a good night’s rest.
Perhaps he doesn’t have to take that extra shift at work if he feels like he needs some down time. His car insurance needs to be paid before he goes to buy snacks or something else for his truck.
Teens have a habit of living in the moment. They need help to figure out what the highest and best use of their time is at any particular moment.
5. Pay attention to the long game
When my oldest wanted to get in better shape, he cut out sugar and started working out. He really wanted to buy a car so he started saving his money. He doesn’t have a problem paying attention to the gains he’ll make over time if he’s consistent.
However, my daughter likes to spend money as soon as she gets it which means she might not have a car next year when she’s of driving age.
All of my kids want to move on to the next grade this spring and I remind them that in order to do that they need to hand in work on time every single day. Otherwise, they have to make up a ton of assignments on top of newly assigned work.
This isn’t easy. Moms of teens repeat themselves over and over and over again. I don’t know how many times I’ve told my kids if they want clean clothes to wear, or they want to wear that one special sweatshirt every day, they have to stay on top of it and do their laundry.
There isn’t a magic fairy who’s going to swoop into their lives and keep them organized. I’d rather they learn that now before they enter into the real world of college or career.
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