When I started planning to have babies I read every book I could get my hands on.  I knew What To Expect When I Was Expecting, all the fancy ways to create organic baby food, that the toddler years were going to be sticky, and pre-school was going to bring its own unique set of challenges.

What I didn’t know, didn’t prepare for and could never have expected are the emotional and physical challenges that come with raising tween and teen girls.

I remembered life as a girl could be tough.  What I don’t know?  That life as a girl today – in our social media obsessed, fast paced, pressure packed world – is harder than ever before, and it doesn’t come with directions.

Raising tween and teen girls in this brand new world has thrown unforeseen and unique challenges at the Mamas of today.  Our girls are over scheduled, stressed, and pressured from every angle.

So how do we get through it?

We find the middle ground, living our life on that thin line, balanced between joy and crazy.  Raising girls is no small task, raising confident, happy, well adjusted members of society is the goal and I think we’re on the right track.

Here are my tips and tricks for surviving the tween and teen years.

  1. Help them find their joy. One of my girls is in love with dance, the other volleyball.  We foster the love of those passions and encourage them to participate in those sports.  As they continue to excel in their respective activities they thrive, gain confidence and, ultimately, joy.
  2. Feed them well. Not just their bodies, but their minds and their souls.  We encourage all types of learning and provide downtime whenever possible.  Rest is just as important as play.
  3. Listen with intention.  Have you ever had a conversation with a person who’s just not listening?  It’s easy to do, especially with two chatterbox girls and I know I’m guilty of tuning out myself.  By making a conscious effort to hear my children, I hope that they not only feel loved and valued, but know they can always come to me with anything.  They are heard.
  4. Know that mean girls happen. We all remember the mean girls in elementary and high school.  Hopefully we all survived them without too many emotional scars.  You get through that crap and figure you’ve left it behind.

News flash – you haven’t.

Raising girls?  You’re going to have to deal with broken hearts, hurt feelings and teen angst again, and it’s going to hurt just as much.  We listen, talk, and coach as much as we can, teaching the coping skills our girls need to help them navigate the all-too-often bumpy waters of teen life.

  1.  Provide a safe place to fall. I strive to make sure my girls know they can always come to me with anything; communication is key.  Now that we have also entered the “house party” scene, I’ve added that they can always call at any time for a ride home.  I will always pick them and their friends up, and get them home.  No questions asked, but discussion always welcome.  I want our house to always be that safe place to fall.
  2. Friends always welcome. There are 14 (?) pairs of shoes in my front hall right now and it’s so loud in my backyard I can hardly think, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I want my children to know their friends are always welcome.  I want to know who those friends are and I want them to be comfortable in my home.
  3.  Set expectations and stick to them. In our house priorities have been set.  Family, school, sports commitments and then friends.  This is just the way it is.  Family gatherings are not missed; their very best work is required in school; team commitments must be met; and never forget your friends.  It’s all part of keeping the balance, and I hope I have taught them the time management skills they need to survive this crazy world.
  4. Social Media is a privilege, not a right. Even though my full time job is social media, this does not give my girls a full access pass to all things internet.  I hold all the cards.  Both daughters know I have the passwords to each privileged account.  That all actions on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc must be respectful and will occasionally be checked.  This little rule of mine, it’s just the way it is.  It’s for their safety and my peace of mind.
  5. Pick your battles. Although I detest the socks and wet towels on the floor, I’m trying to let it go.  Bigger picture: what are we fighting for?  I will blow my top if they are late for curfew, are disrespectful or lie  (my three big triggers!).  Other than that I’m learning right along with them.  Which wee battles in the life of a teen are really confrontation-worthy?  Didn’t clean the cat box.  Letting it go.  Slam your bedroom door?  I might take it off its hinges!  Want to pierce something?  Eek, we could have a battle.
  6. Be their best role model. If I want to have happy healthy teens, I have to be healthy and happy myself!  I try and emulate and live my very own best life, let them know all things are possible, be respectful, responsible and joyful in my everyday life and hope that this leading by example translates.  Above all else, I want my girls to be happy, healthy and living joy filled lives.

Stephanie Holmes is a Family, Lifestyle and Travel Blogger with a true love for writing and travel. A happily married Mama of two, she’s surviving day to day in Ontario, Canada while attempting to keep her humour intact. She’s passionate about her family, chocolate, coffee and travel, and quite certain there will never be enough hours in the day. Find Stephanie telling like it really is on her blog, How To Survive Life In The Suburbs and on twitter@SassyModernMom.