An uninterrupted hot bath.
A manicure AND pedicure.
A silent cup of coffee.
A long nap on a weekday.
A solo ride in the car with great music and nobody to pick up.
A list of mom self-care luxuries? You bet they are.
But also indulgences that make us feel a wee bit selfish and guilty? Yep, that too. Sadly.
As mothers, why on Earth do we often harbor feelings of guilt when we take care of ourselves? And why especially parenting in the teen years, do we feel we don’t really need those things anymore because we don’t have little ones running amuck. It’s as if just because we’re sleeping at night and no longer wiping bottoms, we don’t deserve or necessarily benefit greatly from “mom breaks,” and self-care opportunities.
Moms of teens need self-care breaks
Of course with teenagers, there are plenty of built-in mom breaks that naturally occur, simply because our kids are independent and need less of our physical presence in their lives. But in place of their physical need for us comes a daunting level of the need for total mental stability on our parts, the kind of strong and consistent emotional grasp on life that is able to stay stable and sane during all the ups and downs of parenting a modern adolescent.
And that kind of mental fortitude? Well, let’s put it this way, a pedicure won’t be able to keep you from screaming at the top of your lungs in frustration during your solo ride in your car, even with great music.
Care-taking little people is physically exhausting on so many levels, with long days of lifting hefty toddlers up and down and here and there, but care-taking older kids is a mental marathon that sadly, there is no training for.
For this reason, self-care at this stage of parenting is absolutely vital for your mental health, because if you don’t have your wits about you, guess what will happen? Because your teens? They can smell vulnerability better than a dog smells a dollop of peanut butter on the countertop. And it’s that weakness on your part that opens the door to potential parenting failures both big and small, because when we’re tired, totally burned out, and have not filled up our self-care bucket? Well, that’s exactly when the “I don’t care what you do” attitudes come reeling in when dealing with our teens.
It brings us to a scary point where we just don’t have the energy to be and stay consistent with our teens and staying consistent and strong when parenting teens is one of the most important parenting tactics you’ll need. But when our own personal mental wellness is suffocating, when we have metaphorically emptied our happy and sane bucket and let self-care slide to the back burner that’s a recipe for parenting teen disasters.
It takes a lot of mental strength and consistency to parent teens
The amount of mental gumption it requires these days to raise teenagers is so far beyond the scope of anything I ever thought was hard about raising little ones, that when I first entered the teen years I often wondered how people before me actually survived this. There were a lot of awkward moments of me asking, more like begging, older moms for answers to all kinds of questions, but mostly I harped, “BUT HOW DID YOU DO THIS?” Their answer surprised me at first, but now having raised three teenagers and currently, on my fourth, it makes complete sense to me.
They told me in not so many words to “sleep when the baby sleeps,” but in the case of teenagers, they meant that it’s absolutely critical to take care of yourself, and no, pedicures won’t cut it. They meant that making sure your whole being, body, and mind, is as well as it can be because the task before parents of teens is no small one.
While we can stumble through the newborn phase and plenty of the other younger phases of childhood, we simply cannot stumble through raising teenagers. There is no half-a**ing adolescence, so push aside any guilt you may feel for taking care of yourself and turn off the “You’re being selfish” voice with a gentle reminder that “You’re being a human.”
You’re human, not superhuman, so put YOU first during those tough parenting years, because when those years are over, you’re gonna come out the other side ironically feeling like a superhero. Just add a cape, because you damn well deserve one.