My teenage daughter walked by me while getting ready to go to school. She was in a rush. Her hair looked a little rough. She definitely wore her pants to bed the night before. She didn’t look like a disaster, but had that, “I really didn’t try” look. I was faced with three options. Choose, lose or snooze. I can say something to her (choose), decide it’s not worth it (lose), or make a mental note that it is not important now, but maybe I will address it later (snooze).
Often in parenting, you have to make lightning fast decisions. I created the choose, lose, or snooze method when my two oldest children became teenagers. Because I am a perfectionist, I wanted the most perfectly groomed children at church. I grounded my son for anything less than a C on a test (despite his learning struggles). I fixed my daughter’s hair after she already had done it. And I was wearing myself out. I was wearing my kids out, my husband out, and creating many tense moments at home. When situations arise with my children, I assess. Is this a battle I choose, lose, or snooze?
Battles to Choose (Worth It)
Teach your children what it means to live a financially responsible life. It is imperative to learn this at an early age so they can thrive independently as an adult. Giving simple chores and a small allowance from toddler-hood such as separating socks (even if you have to redo it) is the first step in shaping their financial future. As business owners, our kids have been “working the business” since they were 3. They have to earn money for anything they want or need (except for the very rare, just because gift). My children NEVER ask for money, toys, video games, etc. We have changed the narrative in our home, even for our 5 year old. If my teenager wants to buy a class shirt, she knows she needs to ask like this. “I need $15 for a class shirt. Can I work to earn money for it?” If they do not want to work, then they really do not want it badly enough.
Our teens have jobs outside the home. As I mentioned, we own a business, and we really could employ them fully. But we feel that giving them work anytime they want something doesn’t teach them about real life. And sometimes we have family work nights where no one gets paid. It’s just everyone pitching in to fill orders. These nights are some of my favorite family memories. Dance music, hot chocolate, silliness, and working together for a common goal.
Doing Their Best In School
Insist your kids do their best in school. My 5 year old has a brain for numbers. She begs me to print off math sheets to do before school. My 7 year old struggles. Math, reading, spelling, all of it. I can already see things are going to look very differently for them throughout their school career. One may be an A student, and one a C student, but I will insist they put forth maximum effort. This is real life practice for real life! Teaching them to do their best at the hard things (my 7 year old), and teaching them if things aren’t hard, push yourself beyond your comfort level (my 5 year old).
Nutrition And Fitness Affects Their Future
You develop all your fat cells you are going to have in life by the time you hit puberty. From there, your fat cell size can shrink and grow, but the number of actual cells remain the same. Your body needs a certain number of calories to function. When you eat more than your body needs, it is stored as fat. We all know that, but what actually happens is you expand the size of your cells. You do not gain cells. So what happens to an overweight child that reaches puberty and then becomes an adult? Let me explain.
Suzie was overweight as a child. She is now 30, still overweight and wants to lose 50 pounds. Amanda was not overweight as a child. She is now 30, overweight, and also wants to lose 50 pounds. Amanda has less fat cells than Suzie. It will be relatively easier for Amanda to lose the weight and keep it off. When you lose weight, you do not lose fat cells. You simply shrink those cells. Someone who has 25 billion fat cells (normal), has it a lot easier than someone with 75 billion.
A child who is overweight at puberty has an uphill battle their entire lives. I spent many years in the health field. I was a personal trainer, college nutrition instructor, and I still teach fitness classes. I have seen this type of thing first hand so many times. This is a battle you must CHOOSE with your children. Insist on healthy eating and physical activity. I know it’s hard. Three of my kids love healthy foods, and one would live on only cheese and sausage if given the choice. I hand fed her blueberries this morning. One at a time. Praising her for each one she ate without tears. (Who doesn’t like blueberries?!). Choose to battle. It is vital. With that being said, I let my kids have ice cream on special occasions. I let them have soda at nana’s on holidays. I even let them have whatever soccer snack is given after the game. But these are treats. Not the normal. Teach them the difference between treats and lifestyle, and lead by example. Their future depends on it.
Note: If your teenager is overweight, don’t lose heart after reading this. I know this is a sensitive subject for teens, but they need to know the truth. Teaching them to change their lifestyle while under your roof is the best thing you can do for them!
Battles to Lose (Not Worth It)
I believe that perfect motherhood is when a mom desires to be the best version of themselves. But no mother is perfect. Stop battling for perfection. It is impossible. Forget about keeping the house perfectly clean. Forget about making elaborate and organic meals for your kids, even though nutrition is ideal. Forget about overly hyping up the holidays, birthdays, or anything that adds extra stress. Strive to be the best version of yourself in all areas of your life, and cut yourself slack when you don’t reach your goals. Reading this parenting blog already shows your desire to grow and learn, so pat yourself on the back and give yourself a gold star!
Hair and Clothes Battle
I shut my constantly on this one. It is SO hard! I have two littles and two bigs. Luckily my two littles wear all the frilly and foofy things I want them to, for the most part. One child has to wear socks inside out and the other is apparently “allergic to jeans” so it’s leggings every single day. Mild in comparison to the teenage years. My son’s clothes rarely match. Stripes with plaids, yellow and orange, all the fashion horrors. I inwardly cringe all the time. His favorite pair of Converse looks like they have been a chew toy for our dog. His school has a program that gives shoes to underprivileged kids. Awesome program! They sent new shoes home with him this year. I sent them back, thanking them wholeheartedly, but explained he wants to wear the ones he had (even though he has plenty) and to please give them to a child that actually needed them. I have had calm conversations with him about his style. It is my job to give him the information about fashion and style and have offered to teach him what looks good together (because let’s face it, sometimes guys just don’t even see it). I have been met with a very strong no. He thinks he looks great. He does not want to hear it. Conversation done. Trust me, keeping my mouth shut is NOT easy. One Sunday at church my daughter said, “Mom, he came to church looking homeless.” Someone overheard her. This very wise person said, “Yes, but your brother came to church.” What perspective! Yes, my 18 year old son was at church! I will be thankful for that! However, family picture day, funerals, and weddings are all mine. I will pick out their clothes and even give them a few choices. Because I lay off of them the rest of the time, they totally just go along with it.
The Honor Roll Obsession
As mentioned before, you want your kids to do their best in school. However, their best may not be what you pictured for them when they were a baby. I have a child with a learning disability. We celebrate “C” level work when it is apparent they are giving their best. Focus on your child’s successes and not their failures. Otherwise you will stress out both you and your child and you can damage their self-esteem.
Battles to Snooze (Maybe Worth It)
A LOT falls into this category. These are battles you let go in the moment, and maybe address at a later time. This takes out some of the emotion. In the heat of the moment, conversations can be felt as attacks (especially in the mind of a teen). You may find when you are out of the situation for a few minutes, hours, or days, that it really is not that important anyway. Or you may need time to talk it over with your husband or to pray about it.
Snooze when in the middle of celebrating a big win for your child. My teenage daughter gets mostly gets As and I never have to check on her. She is is a self-driven, motivated student. She texted that she got an A on a math test. I sent all the congrats emojis back. A few minutes later, I noticed she had forgotten to put away the dishes the night before. This was not the time to battle. This was the time to snooze. First of all, she had studied hard for the math test. Do not take away from that celebration. Second, she was at school. Never send battle texts while at school. Ever. Kids have enough distractions to get through the day. Getting a “disappointed mom” text does no good. As hard as it is, hit snooze, and wait until an appropriate time when they get home.
Parenting is tough. We all blow it, make mistakes, and wish for redos. Applying this technique increased my parenting wins, and I am sure it will for you too. You got this. Take a deep breath. Assess the situation. Then ask, is this battle a choose, lose, or snooze?
Hello! My husband Matthew and I own Lolly Llama. One of my favorite things is being able to create and design products for your family. The purpose of this blog is to write about the topics my customers ask me most! Contact me to ask your question. The answer to your question may be my next blog post!