Having three teenagers in my house means there’s a lot of annoying behaviors being tossed around. They can be lazy, careless, messier than a dozen toddlers and they rarely handle situations the way I would want them to.
You can be annoyed by your kids and love them very much. On the flip side you can be a mother who annoys them and they can still love you very much. (Even though most of the time you don’t feel buckets of love shooting from their eyeballs).
I want peace in my home more than I want to be right
I’ve learned these past years that I want a happy home more than I want to be right. I mean, I already know I am the boss around here. My kids know it too. But that doesn’t mean I have to bug the hell out of them by peppering them with suggestions and injecting my opinions into everything they do. I would hate it if someone was doing that to me.
We can’t ignore the fact that our children are sometimes annoyed at the very sight of us, the way we chew and breathe, and how we walk into a room. But, here are ten things I’ve started doing to annoy my kids a bit less.
Ten tips to help you stop annoying your pre-teens and teens
1. Their rooms are their rooms
Honestly, this was more for me than it was for them. They get one room in the house to express themselves and live the way they want.
There are times when my kids’ rooms are clean and times when they look like a crime scene. I used to kill myself trying to keep up with their bedrooms as well as the rest of the house and all the other things I did.
As soon as I let go of that and simply closed their doors, the second part of my life began. I realized no amount of me asking them to clean the room made them clean it to my liking. I also realized that the last thing I wanted to do was clean their rooms for them.
When their rooms get filthy enough they naturally want to do something about it. Problem solved.
2. They can wear what they want
If they want to leave the house in stained clothes and mismatched socks, I don’t care. People aren’t judging me based on what my kids wear. They are all taller than me and are obviously to pick and choose how they want to look.
And if someone judges me (or them) for their clothing that just helps me weed out the people we don’t want in our lives. Also, it makes outings a lot more fun when they aren’t starting off with telling my kids to go change.
3. They can eat what they want
They are old enough to know the food groups and what ‘s good for them and what isn’t. My oldest figured out pepperoni and eating late gave him heartburn. My youngest gets sick when he eats too much sugar or dairy.
If they want cold pizza for breakfast, I’m fine with it. If they want to snack all day and skip lunch, more power to them. I can offer a variety of foods to have in the house. They know how each item makes them feel. They are old enough to feed themselves when they are hungry.
4. I will not force them to do anything with me
I used to do this and it never ended well. I always offer up an invitation and I always let them know how much I like spending time with them. However, if they don’t want to go do something with me I’m fine going by myself or with a few less kids.
I found that as soon as I stopped bugging them if they said no, and only asked once and accepted their answer, the more they did want to go on a walk or take a trip to Target with me.
5. I will not control every decision
It’s their life. If they want to go to college, that’s up to them, if they want a car they know they need to get a job. If they want to dye their hair blue, it’s their hair.
I’m here for advice and support, but I am not here to run their lives and micromanage every life decision, every friendship, or to tell them how to complete their English project.
6. I will let them take long showers
All three of my teens love long showers. I don’t want to know what they are doing there and yes, it does make the water bill go up a bit. However, it’s a small slice of privacy and a way for them to relax.
I’ve decided to save my lungs and not yell at them as soon as five minutes are up. I let them have their long showers and boy, do I love mine.
7. I will let them stay up late
This was a hard one to let go of but after they each turned fourteen, I decided they could control their bedtime. They know they have to be up early every day for school and they got to see how it felt to barely scrape themselves out of bed.
They all turn in early(ish) these days and I truly believe it’s because they know they have the freedom to stay up later and that has taken a bit of the fun out of it. Plus, I just couldn’t keep staying up past ten o’clock anymore to heckle them into going to sleep. Biggest waste of my time yet.
8. I will stop asking their friends so many questions
I love their friends and want to get to know them. However, it drives my kids crazy when they have guests over and I try to engage with them so I keep it light. I offer cookies and pizza, and mostly keep my mouth shut.
9. They can complain there’s no food if they want
I really don’t care. I’m not going to get into a battle with them to prove that there actually is food in the house. They know what I buy each week at the store. They know if they want something they have to write it down. They know when we are out of Poptarts, bacon, or Drake’s apple pies, we are out and I’m not making a special trip to buy more because there are other things in the house.
They win this one. I will never stand in my kitchen again and give them a variety of other suggestions because they are already know, they just don’t care and want to complain that their #1 food choice isn’t available to them. And I let them.
10. I will stop saying “When I was a teenager”
This has been the hardest habit to break. But it was driving my kids crazy, just like it drove me crazy when my mother said it. My teen years in the ‘80s and ‘90s were nothing like their years. This statement has never helped them and it just made me feel old.
Now, we have more productive conversations because I’m not trying to convince them I know what they are going through because honestly, I don’t.
One of the secrets to a happy home is picking your battles
Not only are my kids less irritated by me, I’m happier. I learned that one of the secrets of having a happy home with teenagers (most of the time) is to really pick your battles. If they want to freeze and live on frozen pizza for a week straight, that is their choice and they can curb their lifestyle as they see fit.
I’ve found the changes in their lives happen a lot more often when they aren’t suggested by me anyway so I save my energy for other things. Like planning how I will redecorate and use their bedrooms when they are gone. So far, I’m thinking a fabulous workout room and a nice large walk-in closet will be a great addition to my home when I’m an empty nester.