Entering the middle school years was a sigh of relief. The minute to minute energy needed for little ones was mentally overwhelming for me. Finally, I had a second to my own thoughts! But wait! There was a whole other mountain range of challenges that lay ahead in parenting the middle school years. Yikes! Are you in the midst of the transition as a mom from littles to a mom of pre-teens? If you feel a bit thrown off course, it is normal. Get ready to forge ahead into these exciting years, taking along this survival guide for the struggling mom parenting middle-schoolers!
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What is a Middle Schoolers?
For this post, the term middle schooler refers to those kids that are typically from the age of 10-14 and are in 6th, 7th and 8th grade. Middle-schoolers may also be called pre-teen. There is also some overlap with what is known as the tween years which is usually 9-12 years old. So I will be using the term middle school, pre-teen and occasionally tween.
A Survival Guide for the Struggling Mom Parenting Middle-Schoolers
Every mom’s experience is a bit different. But in working with hundreds of families, I have seen some patterns emerge. Some of these tips are for you specifically as you learn to care for yourself as a MOM of middle schoolers. While other tips will give you help as you navigate being a mom PARENTING middle schoolers.
Moms Parenting Middle-Schoolers Experience Depression
Stepping into parenting the pre-teen years, naturally causes a wide range of emotions in most moms. Some of you may be relieved to see the car seats, snack time and potty training years in the rear view mirror.
But even the staunchest tween mom, has moments when we miss the pre-bedtime cuddles, the cute things our kids used to say or the fridge decorated with hand drawings.
To the struggling mom parenting middle schoolers, it is OK to stop and acknowledge that a parenting stage has passed. Moms may feel sad or a little blown off course wondering what their kids will need from them in this next stage.
While researching for this post, I discovered that there have been studies done on the depression that many moms experience when their kids hit the middle school years.
As one researcher, Lucia Ciocolla, discovered, “… as puberty approaches, mothers find less and less positivity in interactions with their children, and the challenges of parenting become far more complex.” Read full article here.
Your kid’s needs are changing, and you may feel less needed. Tweens are becoming more independent and may push back or say hurtful things. Your relationship with your children will change. But bear in mind that you and your middle schooler can become closer as you both learn to navigate this new relationship.
Whatever your emotions, allow yourself the room to feel them even if other moms don’t seem to be experiencing the exact same emotions.
Surprise! What Do I Do About My Disrespectful Tween’s Behavior?
Shocked by your middle-schoolers’s behavior and disrespectful attitude? You are not alone! Many parents are surprised that their child has seemed to change overnight. Or have they?
Most the time, the pre-teen years will reveal what we have been planting for the past years in our child.
If you are concerned by your pre-teen’s disrespect or attitude this can be a wake up call to adjust some parenting methods.
For example, moms in my groups will often confess that they do too much for their kids. But it still comes as a surprise to them when they have a pre-teen that doesn’t want to help around the house. There is a correlation here!
If you do everything for your kids, by time they hit the middle school years they will expect you to keep doing it. Most kids won’t suddenly change despite it being VERY obvious that a middle school child is more than capable of handing responsibility.
Good News! We still have time to retrain a disrespectful or “lazy tween” before they become full blown teenagers. So pay close attention to the attitudes your tween is revealing. And then tweak (or revamp) your parenting techniques!
Use the Middle School Years to Talk About Sex, Dating and Values
Talking with your 10 year old about dating and sex may seem a bit uncomfortable and odd, since your child still seems so young. But here is a secret! Most 10 and 11 year olds are still willing to listening to their parent’s opinions. And it is so much better to talk about values and ideas BEFORE your child is right in the midst of making a decision
Use the treasured window of time during middle school years to chat about a wide variety of topics. Your children are old enough to understand a lot, but still young enough to accept that their parents are smart:)
We have used these middle school years with all 3 of our kids to share our thoughts on dating, choosing a good marriage partner, money, sex, drinking, drugs and God. I am so thankful for all those talks sharing and listening to their ideas because they came out of the middle school years stronger.
Middle School Really Is Tough
All those sitcoms and movies about junior high really hold a lot of truth, unfortunately. Envision the middle school years like a building where all the kids go in the front, and they come out the back with different friend groups and styles.
The friendship crisis during the middle school years is the hardest to watch. Sometimes kids just grow apart. Others times middle-schoolers choose that time to start experimenting with drugs or alcohol. Your kids may be forced to choose between keeping a friendship or letting a negative influence go.
A couple of our children lost life long friends during junior high. One of our tweens began to realize that they thought differently than most kids, and this was going to limit their friendships.
As a struggling mom parenting middle-schoolers, you may also begin to realize you can’t fix everything for your kid any more. Ugh! It can be rough. But remember that you truly are still helping as a mom by walking with your middle schooler through situations, listening to them and encouraging them.
Moms Parenting Middle-Schoolers Need a Hobby
As a mom of middle school age kids, you may realize that you now have a little more time on your hands. Now, don’t get me wrong. Your schedule will be full with activities and possible jobs your tween has. But there will be a bit more time as your kid is much more capable of taking care of themselves.
It’s time to develop a hobby!
As we have discussed, parenting during the middle school years is full of emotional highs and lows. Developing or reinvesting in a hobby will help you have a way to care for yourself and de-stress as a struggling mom parenting middle schoolers.
Your kids will begin coming to you with bigger and bigger problems. So caring for your emotional and mental health by having some hobbies is pivotal!
Develop a Useful Hobby
Take something you HAVE to do and get creative with it!! Within a couple years of getting married, we went from a family of 4 on two incomes to a family of 5 living off one income! The budget was tight. But saving money became more fun when I challenged myself to see how much I could get for free or save on groceries and toiletries!
That is when I first discovered couponing and Money Saving Mom. By following the techniques I learned from Crystal Paine, of Money Saving Mom, I was able to get quality products often for FREE or at a fraction of the cost. We always had plenty of extras for our family or to give to others!
And by making ONE CHANGE, I became so much better at managing our household money in general!
And right now you have the amazing opportunity to learn from Crystal Paine as she has FINALLY written an ebook, Slash Your Grocery Bill. All her 14 years of saving money is now combined and put together in one easy to consume format.
Learn how to menu plan, create realistic budget, how to find marked down food, where to shop for the best deals, low cost meal ideas, and how to use coupons (if you want;). And instead of having to slowly learn everything like I did, you can binge all 25 tried and true practices in Slash Your Grocery Bill for only $17!
Click on the picture and start learning how you can begin saving $50 or more a month on groceries! What would you do with an extra $50 a month?
Learn a New Skill
Is there something you have always been interested in learning just for fun? During my boys’ middle school and high school years, I learned a ton about natural health. It was fun to learn about ways to care for my family by using herbs, good food, vitamins, and essential oils.
Begin a Hobby Business
Do you have a business idea you have always dreamed about doing? Is there a way that you can began to dip your toe into developing that business or a skill you will need for that business now?
Two years ago, I decided that I wanted to finally make a move on my idea of writing a book. So I started a blog…something of which I knew nothing! But it has been an adventure. And it has been so rewarding to practice the art of writing!
Interested in starting a blog? Check out Your Blogging Mentor for her affordable a la carte menu. You can learn at your own pace and purchase only the courses you need! And Your Blogging Mentor has years of experience so she knows what she is talking. Plus Your Blogging Mentor has seen the ups and downs of the blogging world so her advice works long-term!
Help Your Tween Find a Job
Now I know that most businesses will not hire kids until they are 16 years old. However, most kids by time they are 11 or 12 are really ready for a job. Middle schoolers are ready to learn responsibility, to be pushed to learn new skills, to burn off excess energy (and hormones) and to starting gaining the confidence of knowing they worked hard.
So get creative and brainstorm with your middle schooler. Could they volunteer at church, be a mom’s helper, work at a local family business,or pick berries or bale hay at a local farm. Do you have a family friend that does landscaping that would hire them, or would they like to make money cleaning houses.
Do you have a family business they could help with more or could you create a job for them?
The goal is less about making tons of money and more about learning a new skill and taking responsibility. If they are already used to the idea of working, the transition to being a responsible teen will be much smoother!
Make Time for Family Time During the Tween Years
It will be easy to allow family time to slide away into the drain of activities, school, homework and friend time. Guard your family time during the middle school years! The habits you create will either carry your family through the teen years or allow weeds to grow up in your family relationships causing problems.
There is no limit to interesting activities, sports or friend get togethers your kids can enjoy. But be intentional to balance outside life with time to connect as a family so that you have time to hang out as a family and connect over dinner or breakfast.
Think ahead. When your kids are teens, they will naturally want to distant themselves a bit from you as they become more independent. Some of that is natural and good. But if you haven’t kept those roots of family relationships, then you may find your teen spending becoming more self-absorbed into their activities and less willing to be with you!
Keep your kids close and connected by making family time a habit during the middle school years!
A Survival Guide for the Struggling Mom Parenting Middle-Schoolers
Parenting middle school really can be fun. So despite the challenges you may have to overcome as a mom of middle schoolers, don’t give up! Use these tips for middle school parents and treasure this in between time!