Wednesday, 30 September 2015

What keeps you up at night?

what keeps you up at night?

* This post is sponsored by Durex. 
The other day, I got asked the question, 'What keeps you up at night?' It was from a money guy, who wanted me to suggest that I lay awake worrying about the family's finances, so that he could sign me up for insurance. I gave him a glib, non-committal answer, but on the inside I was thinking, 'there’s no insurance for what keeps me up at night, buddy.'

You know what gets me tossing and turning? The thought that one day my children will become teenagers. Our cute, funny and needy little creatures, turning into young adults, walking around with their own opinions, making their own choices and thinking they're right about everything. Which is all great in theory. It's the whole point of being parents: we’re raising children to become adults who can do all these things. 

But but but… teenagers

But in all honesty, teenagers terrify me, and the teen years we have in our future fill me with dread. I worry that when my kids grow up, they'll no longer be small and adorable. Instead they'll be moody, grunty, full-of-angst teens. They won't worship the ground I walk on anymore, they’ll think I’m embarrassing and want me to be more like their friends' mums. They’ll say things like ‘You don’t understand, mum!’ and fling themselves about dramatically. We’ll have arguments, we’ll miscommunicate, we’ll butt heads. I'm being pessimistic, I know. It's just that I feel like I’m a good authority on how tough teenagers can be because I was such a god-awful one myself. Yeah yeah, I know that we all say that, but seriously, I was AWFUL. Ask my mum. I’m preparing myself for the worst when my kids are older. As mum reminds me often enough, I might be in for some payback. 

And we think toddlers are tough

It's funny really, because we talk about the difficulties of having small kids now. A day with a toddler can be like a battlefield. We call these the hard-work years, but when I think of my kids as teenagers, I start to sweat. Because they’ll be all the things that make the toddler years tough - emotional, defiant and determined - only they’ll be teenagers. And teenagers don’t tend to hang around our ankles so much – they want to go out and meet their friends, go to parties, and experiment with sex. At least when they’re small, we can still control where they go and what they do. Even if they do something naughty, it’s more along the lines of drawing on the walls or unravelling the toilet roll. When they’re teenagers, they can do anything they want when we’re not watching: drive too fast, drink underage, have unprotected sex. Eek.

How do we prepare them?

So I lie awake at night thinking about what we can put in place as they get older, to protect them during the teen years. Is it all about having good role models? Activities that encourage confidence and self-esteem building? Maths tutors? Quality time? Family support? Strict curfews? Relaxed discipline? Social media policing? Lectures about contraceptionI don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t worry so much. Maybe I should be thinking more about how to prepare myself for the teen years, rather than them. Got any advice?

I know one thing for sure: thinking about all this teenagey stuff makes changing nappies and chaotic meal times seem like a walk in the park. You won't catch me complaining about the toddler years this week. Bring me all the nappies and crazy mornings!

Do you worry about the teen years too? What were you like as a teenager? Have you got a teenager yourself? Please reassure me!

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