Preparing Kids for the Teen Years

My girls are 11 and 12, meaning that in less than 2 years I’ll be the mom of two teenagers. I’m trying not to panic, but have to admit that it really freaks me out! I was a HORRIBLE teenager and put my mom through so much, I can only imagine what my girls have in store for me. I’ve collected some tips for Preparing Kids for the Teen Years – maybe they’ll help you other soon-to-be-teen-moms, as well! It may be challenging, but at least we don’t have to be preparing for teen years alone.

Preparing Kids: Don’t Wait to Discuss the ‘P’ Word

Yes, I mean ‘puberty’. This is definitely not a favorite topic of most people, and it can be an uncomfortable conversation for parents to have with their kids – but it’s super important that you discuss it with them. It’s probably best to talk about the changes they’ll go through – the physical as well as the emotional – before they’re overwhelmed in the middle of it all. The more you treat it as a very normal thing (because it IS a normal thing!), the less embarrassed they’ll be by it.

I remember when I first hit puberty (it was a bit earlier than the other girls) I wasn’t too embarrassed – it was a normal part of life, so why make a big deal? But when other girls started acting like it was this awful, horrifying thing that had to be kept hushed and secret, I began to let them convince me it WAS weird. Help your kids feel comfortable, which will also help their confidence.

Preparing Kids: Communicate Often (be available to listen)

When kids are little, it can be frustrating to hear every little thing about this one show or random game, or perhaps a tidbit from school that happens almost every day. It takes a lot of our energy and patience to seem interested in what WE consider the ‘little, unimportant things’. But guess what – they may be important things to THEM. And if we help them learn that we’re happy to listen and will be there for them to go to when it is the more ‘minor’ things, they’ll feel more comfortable coming to us when it’s a bit more major.

We parents expect respect from our kids, but it’s extremely important that we reciprocate. If our kids don’t feel like we respect them back, why would they want to share these crazy things going on in their life? Why would they trust us to react without judgement or criticism, or trust any advice or thoughts we may give?

Preparing Kids: Pick Your Battles

This is suggested in so many aspects of life, and with teens it can save your sanity! There’s going to be so much going on, that you can’t nitpick or comment on every single thing that may not be perfect. Save it for the things that will truly matter. If you spend all of your energy fighting about a clean room (not saying they shouldn’t clean their room, it’s just an example), then how much MORE are you going to feel the need to fight about things like dating, drugs, school, good friends, etc.

Small Things Might be the Big Things

Just like I mentioned earlier – what we consider to be little or insignificant may be very important to your teen. Don’t shrug things off or downplay how much it matters, or they may not come to you with anything.

Teach and Give More Responsibility

Kids kind of learn that actions have consequences when they’re younger – hitting your brother may get you a time out, or not doing your homework may mean missing out on a school event. When they’re teens, actions matter more and have more lasting or severe consequences. Make more of an effort to teach them, so they can understand their choices better – and hopefully make better ones when life throws obstacles or unwise things in their way.

While we should expect more responsibility of our teens, keep in mind that they’re not only still learning – but their brains are LITERALLY not fully developed. Their frontal lobe isn’t to the level of an adult yet, so be reasonable with your expectations. Guide them, give them some slack, but help them so in the future they’re prepared.

Prepare Them for the Future

Not only prepared to do well in school and make educational or career choices, but to also be prepared to support themselves. One of my biggest frustrations as an adult is finances, and a large part of that is because I was never taught. In the teen years, it’s crucial that they learn good money sense – how to earn it well, manage it well, and especially to save and avoid debt. This lesson can make a MAJOR difference in their future, trust me!

Teach Them to Serve

It’s pretty natural for people to focus on themselves – especially teenagers. Help teach them to serve others, to recognize and focus on the feelings and needs of others. This will not only help them become amazing adults who can make a difference in the world, but will help them have a happier life because they’re not just focusing inward to themselves.

It’s Okay to be an Emotional Rollercoaster

Looking back, it’s clear that much of my teen years were spent on a rollercoaster of emotions – not just day to day but even minute to minute. The biggest stress was not knowing WHY I’d be crying one instant and fine the next. Or crying and feeling angry but not understanding why I felt that way. I’m trying hard to point out to my kids that it’s normal – their hormones are going to go out of whack as they get closer to the teen years, so it’s literally a chemical imbalance in their body causing that. It doesn’t mean they’re unreasonable or ridiculous. And it may help them get past those mood swings better when they understand that’s all it is, and that it’ll pass.

Friends Can Ruin You

Parents often talk about ‘good friends’ or ‘bad friends’. It’s important to not push your child away by criticizing their choice of friends, but find subtle or creative ways to help guide THEM to point out ways the friends may either be helping them in their life – with their goals and where they want to go in the future – or hindering that. That can help your child make their own decision about their friends!

Watch for Warning Signs

Pay attention to your child, their actions and words – and even more subtle things – just to keep an eye out for warning signs of really bad choices that could hurt their lives or futures. Catching things before they get too far can make a huge difference in redirecting things and getting back on the right track.

Remember Walking in Their Shoes

It’s really easy to get frustrated – my kids aren’t quite teens YET, but I still feel like I’m going crazy dealing with all the pre-teen drama and such! The thing that’s helped me the most is remembering when I was a teenager, how crazy it was and how difficult to understand everything. This helps me see from their perspective a bit, and grant a bit more patience.

10 Ways to Torch 100 calories FAST

10 Ways to Torch 100 Calories FAST

Some days you simply do not have time for your usual workout.  Perhaps you are traveling or you have meetings from dawn ‘til dusk.  Or maybe something totally unexpected comes up and your workout time disappears.

When life steals your exercise time, however, you do not have to forgo your workout.  If you have just a few minutes, you can burn off 100 calories, get your heart pumping fast and redeem at least a little of your workout.

Here are 10 ways to torch 100 calories 

Use them on busy days or even to supercharge your normal workout days.  Most estimates are for a person weighing approximately 130-150 pounds.  If you weigh more, you can probably shorten the duration, but if you are lighter, add a few minutes to ensure that you burn at least 100 calories.

1.     Take the stairs.  Stair climbing for 15 minutes will burn 137 calories.  Have a 15 minute break at work?  Find a stair case and set your phone alarm to alert you when 15 minutes have passed.


2.     Run a 5-minute mile. By the time you are 4 and ½ minutes in, you will have already burned 100 calories.  If you can’t get outside, just run in place.


3.     Ride a stationary bike at 20 mph for 4 minutes 54 seconds.


4.     Work on the lawn.  Pull weeds for 17 minutes, rake leaves for 20 minutes, or dig dirt for 16 minutes.


5.     Calisthenics. Spending 15 minutes doing some light body weight squats, lunges, jumping jacks, get-ups and knee-ins will burn about 137 calories.


6.     Go for a walk.  A 150 pound person will burn approximately 117 calories by walking at a 4 mph speed for 20 minutes.  Walk in place if you do not have a good area to walk in outdoors.  Try walking in place while you watch your favorite television show!


7.     Grab the vacuum.  Vacuuming your home or office for 28 minutes will burn 100 calories.  This is a great way to sneak in some exercise at work and get on the good list of your coworkers!


8.     Chop fire wood.  It is hot now, but winter is coming!  Spend 5 minutes chopping fire wood and you will burn 100 calories.

9.     Swim laps.  It only takes 12 minutes to burn off 100 calories while swimming.

10.   Mow the lawn with a push mower.  14 minutes is all it takes to zap 100 calories.

When is Your Child Ready for Athletics?


Parenting 101: There is no rule book. There are a million people out there with a million different opinions offering guidance based on their own studies or what worked for them – but the advice varies and the only thing certain is that there is no one universally “right” answer. To anything. So when it comes to trying to determine when your child is ready to start athletics, don’t be surprised when you find a million different answers. That said, there are a few ways to determine the proper answer for your actual child. Here are a few things to consider:

How independent are they?
Not every child will walk into a room of strangers and greet themselves – and that’s ok! But are they able to communicate on their own with a coach and follow directions with little guidance? If you still need to be heavily involved in their coaching and actions, they may not be ready for true athletics just yet – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t ready for introductory activities: There are tons of parent-child classes out there for everything from tiny tumblers to pee wee soccer. These kinds of programs tend to focus more on basic social skills while getting some energy out and building physical strength and coordination. If your child is fairly comfortable taking direction, has the basics down on being part of a group and cooperating, and is safely past the potty training years, they may be ready for athletics.

What are their physical abilities and opportunities?
One of the great things about athletics is that they build your child’s skills and physical fitness, along with confidence, focus, social skills, and a slew of other perks. That said, of course no child comes in fully trained – but they should have basic coordination down. In this case, they should be able to walk and run steadily, be able to regularly catch a ball and throw or kick to someone with some level of accuracy, and have refined gross and small motor skills. Typically, around age four or five, most children will be physically ready. In terms of deciding which sport to start them in, consider areas that they have a growth opportunity or talent. For example, if they need to improve balance, gymnastics could be a great fit; if they need to improve in the throwing/ catching department, perhaps baseball or something hand-eye related.

Are they interested?
The number one factor in your decision process should take into consideration your child’s interests. Talk with them and open a dialogue if they haven’t already proactively mentioned something they’d like to do. If they have no interest, maybe test the waters with a trial class before you fully invest and take it from there. If they’re interested, all the better!