I am happy to introduce you to Awake Mama Angi as part of my occassional Awake Mama series. Angi writes a blog called Growing Tween: Notes on Feeding, Care and Keeping of Tweens. She actually thinks raising tweens is fun! I think she has a great perspective and thought you would be happy to meet her and get to know her a little better.
Angie loves raising tweens so much that she writes about it all the time. While she admits she doesn’t have all the answers, she does offer 4 Tips to Make Raising Tweens Fun.
1. Keep your eyes open to the good. It’s easy to fall into criticism because we expect more of our older kids. Repeating “Put your dish in the sink” for 12 years can get stale. Watch out for the good and let some of the other stuff slide.
2. Be still. SIT next to your tween, read, watch TV, knit. Parenting a tween we’re often in a rush and you’ll find great moments come out of this stillness.
3. Lower your expectations. This sounds pretty negative, I know- but it’s my policy: they are still kids, they don’t have to act like adults all the time (and neither do you!).
4. Be kind. Kindness leads to more smiles.
And now … about Angie and her amazing and adventurous life!
1. How do you seek out meaningful moments in your everyday family life?
That’s a good question. I wish I had a method but I find that I get caught up in a moment that’s meaningful when it’s already occurring (or realize later, once the noise has died down, that we just had a meaningful moment). Most days meaningful moments are there and usually I’m ignoring them or mistaking them for an everyday-average moment. I miss the meaningful moments on the days we’re over-scheduled.
If the kids are all cranky and the day has barely started I will usually try something silly to re-set the morning. I will start whining about unloading the dishwasher in a preposterous way with a British accent “What is the meaning of this? Dishes everywhere! Why hasn’t the butler been here with my coffee?! How on earth is one supposed to function without coffee?! Dah-ling; fetch the broom…would you?” Or, if that’s too much effort show them a goofy dog video on YouTube…just that can get them all giddy and on to a new subject. I also know that music can really impact our kitchen and entire household, Call me Maybe is particularly irresistible.
2. Your blog focuses on raising tweens. With twin girls, I’m happy that I haven’t yet reached that stage but I’ll be there soon enough. Can you please offer us some insight to what it’s like raising tweens?
Wow Shawn, twin tween girls…that’s a lot to handle. Just kidding. That’s a common perception parents have, but having tweens is really pretty great. My daughter is 11 and my son is 10 right now and I have two younger kiddos as well (ages 6 & 5). My blog focuses on the tweens because this is a new path for me and when I was searching for mommy blogs along those lines I didn’t find many. I hope my blog will communicate that tweens are emotional, helpful, mature, offensive, childish, demanding, responsible, and no matter what happens- tomorrow is a new day.
Parenting from the heart is a good way to put it. Raising children is a different experience for pretty much every person on earth. I really think it’s important to just honor and support Mamas because we’re all on our own path. For me seeing my children growing up, making their own decisions, finding their way through friendships, showing signs of puberty- it’s new for all of us.
3. What’s your most magical family moment? How about your childrens’?
Our most magical moment is rather unexpected because we travel the world. We have ridden on camels at the Pyramids of Giza, we have stayed in fairy chimney caves in Cappadocia, we have camped in ancient burial grounds, we have bicycled around Budapest. Friends often gush over all the experiences my children have had but in my heart I know that these experiences aren’t making a HUGE impact on who they are. These experiences are often WHERE we are. We all enjoy the travel, the journey (most days), the sights, the adventures but when we return from a trip and you overhear the kiddos respond to the frequent question “What did you do in Croatia?!” They will often talk about a stray dog, a particularly tasty dessert, or the ever-popular hotel pool. That’s where the magical moment was for them.
I mention this because you don’t have to make something into a huge deal for it to have value.
Our best moments are often at home- reading together in bed, dancing to music in the living room, hula hooping in the back yard, family games of tag. Magical moments come when I’m an Awake Mama: when I can see how special it is that we are a family who loves reading, watching my littles sounding out words, noticing the tweens can’t even hear me because they are wrapped up in the world at Hogwart’s. I know those are the most important to the kids and I know it’s what they’ll remember as they grow into adults.
4. How do you take care of yourself so you can take great care of your family?
Let me just say: I NEED sleep. People say this all the time but it’s really true for me. I am in awe of all these Mamas I come across at the playground or museum who say “I was awake from 2 to 4 a.m. last night.” And yet, here they are at the playground and they are wearing CLOTHES and sometimes their hair looks combed. Not only that- they have children. With them! And the kids are dressed too, shoes and all. I find that amazing. When I don’t get a good night’s rest you can bet we will NOT have a good morning and will most likely be late for Kung Fu class.
Just being ‘awake’ to the knowledge that this is important for me took a while. Now that I know it I have been able to make sure that happens- I made my bed a fantastic place to be, I splurged on fancy-shmancy sheets (like Oprah) and super soft, fluffy blankets. If this seems selfish to you, it’s not: I am honestly a better mama for it. I heartily recommend taking care of yourself in order to be ready to take care of your family.
If sleep isn’t your need (lucky gal!) find out what is and MAKE it happen in your life. I don’t tell people what to do most of the time- seriously though, you should do it!
5. Something that you are so happy you said YES to in your life.
My inner dork. I’m so glad I decided to embrace my inner dorky self and not pretend to be cool/hip/witty all the time. That would be exhausting. I’m glad I’ve said yes to chaos, a big family, moving around the world 8 times in 11 years and lentil soup (it tastes way better than it sounds!). Embracing the inner dork is good for dancing to Carly Rae and whining with a British accent (see question 1).
6. What’s your best parenting advice?
Yikes! Advice is such a loaded word. I’d hate to advise anyone because I’m pretty sure I don’t know what I’m doing myself. If I had to give advice I think it would have to be Have fun. When you are overwhelmed, stressed, over-scheduled, appalled at rude manners, behind on laundry, out of clean spoons…whatever the obstacle, fun is the cure. Laugh it off, walk out the door, let it go, shake it out and do something fun instead—make popcorn for dinner, eat Popsicles at 9 a.m., start growling like a bear and swoop up a kiddo in bear hug. This is one of the main points in your book and certainly true in our home: If you can gather the power to just stop and do something silly- it’s amazing the change that can make in a bad day or bad mood.
7. Please add anything else you’d love for our readers to learn.
I’d like to tell parents, that tweens aren’t so bad. American teens often have a bad reputation and parents dread the tween/teen stages as much as the ‘terrible twos’. In all honesty, I know so many terrific kids in that age group. Keeping an open mind, knowing that pink hair dye or odd-looking outfits are a good way to test out what works in the world is essential. Kids learn through making their own choices and making loads of mistakes. It’s hard to let my children do something when I know it’s not going to work out the way they have in mind; but it’s not fair to take away their learning process just because it’s easier for me to step in and prevent disappointment. Raise your kid, connect with them and the person they are at all ages…step back and see what happens.
Thanks, Angie for participating in this series. You can find more inspiring Mamas on my Pinterest board called Inspiring Mamas, which includes my Awake Mama series as well as other interviews of creative mamas written by Classic Play and A Happy Adventure.