You’ve heard about the early stages of parenthood: sleepless nights with a newborn, the infamous terrible twos and the heartbreak of dropping them off at their first day of school. There are books, blogs, and magazine articles talking parents through each stage of the early years and how to cope with each. But as children get older, there are fewer and fewer resources for parents on how to help and guide their children through the more complicated and ever changing years of high school and college. Driver’s tests, first loves, different clubs and teams, long essays, changing friend groups, the list can go on. And with the changes also comes a change in parenting from those early years, but where are the resources and support system?
Enter Grown and Flown, the largest website and online community for parents of fifteen to twenty-five year olds founded by Lisa Hefferman and Mary Dell Harrington. Consider this a one-stop resource, a manual of sorts for parents to use when faced with everything from dorm room shopping to advice and perspectives on how to let your kids go and experience life on their own.
Mary Dell Harrington joined us at ModernWell to discuss the Grown and Flown book launch earlier this month and brought with her a wealth of wisdom and knowledge. She asked attendees to write down their biggest concerns about their children in areas such as social life, academics, and mental health to start an open, candid conversation about real concerns. Women opened up and were vulnerable with the emotions and situations they are facing with their children in every stage, and the stresses those situations bring on parents. Mary Dell acknowledged those stresses and concerns throughout the room and offered tactical things we can do in our homes to help with some of these emotionally exhausting times in life.
Not a parent? No worries! This approach can translate to any home and relationship – it doesn’t have to be with your children!
Outside Pressure Shouldn’t Come In
Societal expectations are real, and when you are at an age where you are trying to figure out who you truly are, these pressures from outside influences can feel like an anchor of weight. Be intentional in leaving those pressures outside your front door and allowing those you love to feel welcomed, comfortable, and appreciated in your home.
Learn to Destress
Stress is inevitable, it’s going to happen. But what we can control is how we deal with the onset of stress and how we react to such situations. Think of something that makes you feel completely at ease – maybe is yoga, reading, running, crafts. Whatever it is, find a way to incorporate that into your life when you feel stress overtaking your emotions. It doesn’t have to be a full hour of yoga or reading four chapters, it could be a simple breathing exercise or a few pages from the novel you’ve been meaning to finish. Little moments to relax and refocus can make all the difference!
Exercise and Sleep
When life’s responsibilities continue to pile up, we tend to put everything before ourselves. Instead of getting a good night’s sleep, we scroll through our emails and social media in bed. Instead of taking time to move our bodies, we try and squeeze in another load of laundry, volunteer opportunity or meeting. But in order to perform at our best, we need to take care of our bodies. Challenge yourself and your loved ones to at least seven hours of sleep per night and 30 minutes of movement every day – your mind and body will thank you!
Little Things Go a Long Way
You don’t have to be a superhero in every situation for your children, partner, or friend. Find small, meaningful things you can do to let them know you care about them and help ease the burden off a stressful situation. Do you know that your partner needs to get some work done around the house? Offer to do the dishes that night. Does your child have a big test in school? Send a quick text wishing them luck before they head into class!
Let Your Home Be A Refuge
School, work, friends, bosses, homework, volunteering, the list can go on of everything you are trying to tackle in a given day. Allow your home to be a place of rest, recovery and a reminder that everyone needs time to just breathe. Work to create a space that is free of pressures, judgement, and outside expectations so you can focus on the people and relationships that are most important to you.
As we get older and responsibilities start to multiply, time management is such an essential skill to help manage an overwhelming schedule. You know how to manage a full-time job, children, hobbies, self care and household duties, but have you ever explained to your children how you manage it all? Showing and talking through how you prioritize and schedule your day will help your children understand how to prioritize certain responsibilities and relationships over others and manage the extra responsibilities thrown their way as they get older.
Sometimes life just doesn’t go as we planned, and problems arise that we didn’t expect. And instead of searching for a solution, most of us spend too much time ruminating over the problem at hand. We think about the past for days, maybe even months, and mull over the impact it had on our plans, goals and intentions. Let this be a challenge to face the problem at hand head-on, evaluate the situation, identify the cause, and then focus on the possible solutions. It is important to acknowledge the problem, but it is equally as important shift your focus on the future solution!
As we get older, competition is everywhere – school grades, ACT/SAT scores, school play roles, varsity jerseys, college acceptance letters, job applications, the list can go on and on. And when our children win that lead role or get an A on a paper, we congratulate them with compliments and congratulations. But if we are only celebrating ‘wins’, what does that say about the hard-fought efforts that might’ve turned into lessons learned rather than a perfect grade or lead role? Challenge yourself and your children to take the road less traveled, knowing that the outcome might not be a ‘win’, and that’s OK! Take the more challenging course, apply for that big job, and encourage your loved ones to push past their comfort zone!
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