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7 Reasons To Cherish The Teenager(s) In Your Home

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We all know that the teenage years can be some of the most trying years.  But this is Thanksgiving week and people everywhere are adopting an attitude of gratitude.  So I’ve decided to give thanks for the teenagers in my home. You can, too. Here are 7 reasons to cherish your teenagers.

1.  Teenagers eat the food you prepare.

They may not share your love of salmon or mushrooms, but they probably won’t whine and sulk about the dinner menu like they did when they were little.  They’re beginning to appreciate the time and care that goes into preparing a meal.  And if you’re lucky enough to be able to dine together several times a week, research says your teens will perform better in school and resist negative peer pressure.  Family dinners are so hard to pull off with hectic schedules, but most teens will agree they are a welcome departure from fast food and Kraft macaroni and cheese.

2.  Teenagers help out around the house (with less whining and eye rolling each time).

By the time your children are teenagers, it’s no longer necessary for “helping out” to be a fun, game-style activity set to music. It should not require a fun follow-up activity either.  Teens will usually help out when asked because they know (at last!) that it’s the right thing to do.  It lightens the load for us parents, physically and mentally.  Alleluiah!

3.  Teenagers are technology savvy.

I “get” Facebook.  I get email.  I get texting and cable TV.   But apparently I don’t get the“blue” stuff.  I once flagged down a Target salesperson in the technology department to inquire which blue tooth system was rated best in quality for movie viewing.  I thought I was being proactive.  Before the young man could respond, my teen interjected, “Blue ray!  Not blue tooth, Mom!”  How could I have confused the two? And why are they both blue? My teens know way more about technology than I do and yours probably do, too.  Embrace this reality and give thanks for your teens.

4.  Teenagers introduce you to new skills and activities.

I’ve rarely had the opportunity to speak the French language I spent 7 years studying, but I do get to quiz my eighth grader on her Spanish and it makes me long to learn this language.  She is quite skilled at reciting simple sentences that sound sophisticated to my untrained ears.     Te amo, mamá.  Usted es el major!   (I love you, mom.  You’re the best!)

I would rather stick needles in my eyes than perform on stage in an auditorium.  So no one was more proud (or sweating more profusely) than I was, watching our oldest daughter play the role of a singing nun in her high school’s production of The Sound of Music.  And I get another rush from watching ice hockey with some of the most rowdy parents in sports.  I thank God when the game is over and no one is hurt.  I love the game but watching my child play it is completely out of my comfort zone.

Watching your teens develop as students, athletes, artists and friends is a role you only have for a short time.  I try to cherish these days and the lessons they bring.  (Remember those temper tantrums and power struggles from the toddler years?  I don’t. I do remember many of the good times, though).

5.  Teenagers enjoy family time.

It’s now OK to pull out [some of] those fantastic movies that contain more substance. Teenagers will not be scarred by mature language and more mature themes.  And there’s another bonus:  Teenagers may look at you appreciatively for your choices in comedy, drama and documentary.

Some people call gatherings with relatives forced family fun.   But I’m certain most teenagers welcome those infrequent opportunities to spend time with aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins.  What’s not to like about a full Thanksgiving belly followed by a game of Candyland and/or Scrabble? Or watching football or a classic Disney movie? And how about gathering for a Face Time session with long-distance relatives they love and miss?  Yes, teenagers gravitate toward friends more than family, but they can always count on unconditional love and acceptance of family through the ups and downs of the teenage years. Amen.

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6.  Teenagers let you know if you’re about to make a fashion faux pas.  

Or, they let you know at dinner, when it’s a little too late.   But you can still take away the lesson. (Stripes on stripes doesn’t work).

 

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7.  Teenagers still need us and (occasionally) come to us for advice.  

Sometimes we forget that our teens are still developing into adults. They make mistakes.  They make poor choices.  We often wonder what’s in store for their futures.  But they all show signs of becoming independent – which is great news!  It is also a reminder to us to cherish them right now while they’re still immersed in our lives.  Time flies when you’re having fun.

 

                                                          kids      blue hills   

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  

De-Cluttering To Save Our Sanity

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gastonia-roll-off-dumpster-rentals

I never thought I’d be excited about a dumpster.

We were having some renovations done to the house recently, so it made sense to have one.  Rotting window frames went in.  Warped shingles went in. Then old, rusty lawn chairs and faded table umbrellas, followed by a recliner we’ve had for 20+ years, thank god. Suddenly, I didn’t recognize our basement because the majority of it was thrown into the dumpster.  In just a matter of days, the ugly metal monstrosity sitting in our driveway had restored some order to our home.

The dumpster is gone but now it’s time to tackle another form of excess – clothing.

I try to teach my kids the difference between wanting and needing things, but then I find myself meandering through the racks at Kohl’s, tempted to purchase a cute dress I don’t need.  Living simply, however admirable, is hard to do, and particularly hard for teenagers  who think that looking your best and following trends is a priority.  (I still don’t understand the boys wearing tall black socks).

I enjoy a bargain and I’m happy that I’ve passed this on to my girls.  But apparently I’ve passed it on too well.  We all have much more than we need.

You know you have a problem when your tween’s drawers and closet are bursting, yet she cannot put together a single outfit for an awards ceremony. Too much of anything is not good, even clothes.  Note to self:  Don’t offer to help a tween select an outfit one hour before an event – this is a battle a mother can’t win.  No matter what adorable getup I suggest, she will find it unacceptable:

tween:  That doesn’t fit any more.  Why is it in your drawer?

tween:  That has a stain on it.  It’s in your closet because?

tween:  I wear that too often.   Who is noticing how often you wear anything?

tween: That looks like something you would wear.   Excuse me?

tween:  That’s too hot/cold/itchy/ugly…  We need help.

It’s definitely time for my family to purge some clothing and to build up our shopping self-restraint muscles.  Here is some wisdom my family still needs to adopt:

Less is more.  Just as I felt sheer relief when I saw my basement cleared of  way too many objects, my daughter would be better off (or at least  not feel paralyzed) if she had a lot less of everything.   If we all had walk-in closets and could see every article of clothing we owned, it might be possible to wear a different outfit every day for a month or more.  There are no walk-ins here.  These days, if I look into my older daughter’s room and see laundry baskets, they could be filled with dirty clothes or they could be home to clean clothes that don’t fit in drawers and closets.  I  refuse to wash a basket full of laundry that smells like Tide detergent.  It’s time to weed out and make more space.

Remember the lay-away system.  If you were a kid in the ‘70s and ‘80s, your mom may have used the lay-away system of shopping.  If you didn’t have the funds to pay for items immediately, the lay-away system held the items so you could come back and purchase them when you had the cash.  It certainly was not fun to walk out of a store empty-handed but I now admire my mother’s determination to avoid debt.   The other perk to lay-away was that you thought more about your purchases. Today, with store credit perks, it’s so quick and easy to charge now and pay later.  But even if you pay off that credit card each month, there remains the issue of accumulating more clothes than are needed (and possibly ending up using laundry baskets for storage).

Donate clothes periodically to Good Will or to friends and family.  It feels good to recycle clothes.  It feels good to the giver and the receiver.  It frees up space.

Do what you love to do.   If you are totally engaged in what you’re doing – cooking, jogging, hanging out with friends, reading, cleaning – what you’re wearing matters less.  If you have the basics and a reasonable number of  fun items in your closet, why not save your money for really special purchases.  I try to remember this when a really good department store coupon arrives in the mail and my brain starts wondering how I can best use it.  What do I need?  Usually I need nothing — not even that cute little dress I had my eye on.

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In a couple of months, my oldest child will leave for college where she will have very little space for her clothes. Right now is a perfect time for her to decide which clothes she truly needs and loves.  The rest can find a new home.  If  her little sister does the same, maybe she will get a few new (recycled) items from her sister.

 

 

 

 

 

* Photo:  gastonia-roll-off-dumpster-rentals.jpg