My kids are 11 and 13. In 10 years time what will I wish I'd done more/less of?

(55 Posts)
quandry Tue 04-Jun-13 22:09:57

With my youngest about to start senior school in September, I'm suddenly feeling a bit sad that the 'little children' days are over. There are all sorts of things that I wish I'd done more of, or done differently.

I just wondered what those 'things' will be in the next 10 years?
By the time they've grown up and left home, what will I wish we'd done more of while they were still here, even as grumpy teenagers?

I's really appreciate the collective Mumsnet benefit of experience and hindsight smile...
If you're past this stage, please give me your advice!

Notnowcato Wed 05-Jun-13 16:57:27

Not able to advise as my oldest in Yr 5. But I'll be seeing what everyone thinks.

GoblinGranny Wed 05-Jun-13 17:18:55

More choosing the battles you have carefully, and letting the small stuff go.
More listening to them and less dictating, they are becoming their own individuals, with interests and opinions that don't reflect yours.
More including basic tasks and responsibilities in the house as a normal thing, rather than ending up complaining that 'they never do anything to help'

ToTiredToBeWitty Wed 05-Jun-13 17:22:19

There are all sorts of things that I wish I'd done more of, or done differently

What are these? For those of us who still have small ones

17 and 15 here, so not 10 years older.
Be there for them. I think they still need you but in different ways. Not all teenagers are grumpy by the way, they can be great company.

Family routines still work, having special meals together, holidays,
Always be ready to talk even if it's inconvenient.
Find something you can watch together on tv.
There was a (controversial) thread a while ago about whether older children still benefited from having SAHM, or something to that effect.

GoblinGranny Wed 05-Jun-13 17:24:31

What do you want them to have as memories of being a teenager?

YoniBottsBumgina Wed 05-Jun-13 17:26:31

Ooh yes I want to know what you wish you'd done more if with primary aged children.

I don't have any older children but as a teenager I really appreciated getting to spend one on one time with my mum/dad.

GoblinGranny Wed 05-Jun-13 17:41:27

Mine are now 18 and 22.
Yes to separate time with each, even to the extent of going away for a long weekend with just one. They are very different.

qme Wed 05-Jun-13 17:44:27

spend more time with each individually, like half a day one parent takes one child soemwhere and has time to spend time in a relaxed atmosphere

bigTillyMint Wed 05-Jun-13 17:45:00

GoblinGranny, great advice! Mine are 12 and 13, so watching with interest.

I love the idea of going away with one at a time - would be so easy with DD, but I think DS would die of boredom stuck with me for a whole weekend - a day maybe!

BeauNidle Wed 05-Jun-13 17:45:59

Always give them plenty of time to vent teenage angst.
As with goblin, spend time with each individually.
Let alot of the smaller stuff go,
Eat together every day. (when they are home!)

GoblinGranny Wed 05-Jun-13 17:46:41

When DS and I are together, we do things linked to his interests.
Fortunately I like Medieval history.

MortifiedAdams Wed 05-Jun-13 17:47:05

Stop nagging them to get out of bed on days when they dont need to be up early. Teens are growing both physically and enotionally and need thw downtime that sleep (even in the day) provides. My DM spent years harrassing ne to be up by 9 and then would winge that I was getting under her feet. She admits now that I needed the sleep and she shoud have just left me be.

ggirl Wed 05-Jun-13 17:49:11

I wish I hadn't worried about my daughters shyness and apologised for it.
She's a confident 21 yr old now.

mum47 Wed 05-Jun-13 17:49:37

Great post Goblin. Mine are 11 and 13 too, 12 and 14 later this year, so watching with interest.

I agree about less dictating, more listening, as it is easy to forget that they are growing up and to still treat them like you do when they are younger. I know I am guilty of this.

bigTillyMint Wed 05-Jun-13 17:49:55

GG, DS loves sports. Particularly footy. Not my forteblush

lljkk Wed 05-Jun-13 17:49:56

I think at this age they tell you what they are doing & you facilitate. Days of getting them to share your every past-time are over.
So my biggest advice is don't sweat the small stuff, and don't be surprised they are off developing their own lives.

GoblinGranny Wed 05-Jun-13 18:03:24

I think that you are all brilliant, thinking about it now as something to consider over the next few years.

monikar Wed 05-Jun-13 18:29:04

DD is 17.

I would say listen, be there for them when they need you and take a back seat when they don't.

Really listen to their opinions on things, it strengthens your relationship with them. It is great to see them developing into independent adults - when they are little they are more an extension of you but this changes as the teenage years progress.

Be prepared for them to have a separate life from you - this is normal, but it takes some adjustment.

In the later teenage years when boyfriends/going out/parties come into the picture, they may tell you some really shocking things. Never judge, never appear shocked and try to keep a neutral expression during these conversations even if inside you are thinking omg. It's a real test.

And finally, I agree with other posters, don't sweat the small stuff. The teenage years fly by.

quandry Thu 06-Jun-13 20:42:44

Oh, these are so helpful - thank you!

I can see already that I need to let DS1 (13) have his own space, and a bit of private life, although I'm finding that hard, as we've always been a close family.

For those who asked what I wish I'd done more of when they were younger, I think a lot of it is about being more spontaneous, and doing simple things together, rather than over-planning things blush.
DH and are both quite organised, and probably a bit controlling, and we've always planned trips out to special places etc. But recently, when we were chatting to the kids about favourite holidays etc, the sorts of things they seemed to remember most fondly were the unplanned, and the unexpected things - getting caught outdoors in a thunderstorm and getting drenched, or arriving somewhere in the middle of the night because the car broke down.
I sometimes feel I spent all their chiildhood organising and trying to keep 'control', whereas a bit of chaos could have been fun!

Sparklingbrook Thu 06-Jun-13 20:47:02

I am with you quandry DSs 13 and 11. Sometimes I want to start all over again now I know what I am doing.

YY to the chaos. I was too busy planning the activities to have chaos and spontaneous things. sad

I feel DS1 (13) is slowly leaving me too.

quandry Thu 06-Jun-13 21:09:51

aww, SparkingBrook... a kindred spirit!

I've never been very comfortable being one of those loads-of-kids-in-the-house-yes-you-can-stay-unexpectedly-here's-a-sleeping-bag sort of mum, and I feel a bit bad about it sad.

Sparklingbrook Thu 06-Jun-13 21:21:17

Me neither quandry, and I feel bad about it too. I have never had a sleepover and yet both of mine have been to them. blush

burberryqueen Thu 06-Jun-13 21:23:44

it is harder to do things together as they get older but i agree unplanned things are great - the other night we went to the beach and made a fire of driftwood and cooked fish in foil parcels in the ashes and ate fish sandwiches and watched the sun go down, it was amazing and the best thing we had done together for ages.

ohforfoxsake Thu 06-Jun-13 21:25:08

Great thread, reading with interest (and making notes) smile

Jealous of the beach.

BetsyBell Thu 06-Jun-13 21:32:17

This is great [makes notes] smile

invicta Thu 06-Jun-13 21:36:35

The National Trust ave issued a list of 50 things to do. I'm not sure what their age was. However, it my give you ideas.

My boys are the same age.

Bumply Thu 06-Jun-13 21:43:01

My boys are 11 and 15 so I know what you mean.
We have plenty of chaos and going with the flow and I worry they'll wish things had been more organised/tidy

Sparklingbrook Thu 06-Jun-13 22:10:04

DS1 now won't be seen with me or DS2 and the bickering is very annoying. Hard to find stuff for them both.

MustTidyUpMustTidyUp Thu 06-Jun-13 22:24:13

Great thread. I still have little ones and am interested in advice from those with teens.

Sparklingbrook Thu 06-Jun-13 23:03:42

The thing for me is that I have not long given birth to DS1 and suddenly he will be 14 years old in 3 week's time. I can't comprehend it at all.

Sparklingbrook I know exactly what you mean. Last week my baby was in nappies and this week he is driving me around in the car sad
quandry I was exactly the same. I couldn't cope unless organised with military precision.
We live in the country so most things involve a car trip. On the way through a nearby village is a fairly crummy little park. I used to stop there occasionally, but whenever we passed it the boys would yell "please stop at the park mummy".

I was always too busy.

They don't ask now.

I wish I'd stopped at the park more often.

Now they are older I agree with one comment about finding something one to one. DS2 (15) loves coming with me round open gardens.
<old lady emoticon>
Of course he wouldn't admit it to his friends.

MerryMarigold Fri 07-Jun-13 10:47:37

Aw secretscwirrels, you must have stopped sometimes for them to even ask.

Sparkling, I'm the same. Suddenly my DS is 12 and full of hormones.
Hes nearly finished the first year in big school that he only started 5 minutes ago.
Where does the time go?

I wish I'd spent more time just enjoying him wanting to play with me when he was little. Doing housework would have waited, but it didnt seem so at the time.

Sparklingbrook Fri 07-Jun-13 11:18:00

Everyone says it goes so quickly/they aren't little for long. And you are all 'yeah, yeah'. But it is scary how quickly it has gone it really is.

You are so immersed in whatever 'stage' they are at you don't notice. Sometimes you are too eager for the next stage because you think it would be better, but it's just hard in a different way.

lljkk Fri 07-Jun-13 11:29:13

I never feel like it's gone quickly at all. blush Feels like a small lifetime to me and DC1 is only 13.

Only thing is now I look at pregnant women and am puzzled thinking "they shouldn't be doing that" because my childbearing days are gone. It's very silly of me. Definitely moving on.

quandry Fri 07-Jun-13 12:22:24

Phew! It's not just me then... smile
You do have to be careful not to see it all through 'rose-tinted' spectacles though... for instance, I always felt bad that I never walked to school with them, as I had to go onto work straight afterwards.
I now look wistfully at mums with pushchairs and young kids mowing folk down scooting along the pavement...
But when I mentioned this to a (younger) mum friend she looked at me a=in amazement and said he 'hated the drudgery of the pushchair school run.." grin

OK, so lots of good advice so far:
- listening to them - especially their opinions
- not sweating the small stuff
- involve them in the household
- family routines
- holidays still together
- spend time individually

anything else, o wise ones?

BriansBrain Fri 07-Jun-13 12:26:50

An interesting thread for me to read later

Slothlorien Fri 07-Jun-13 12:28:05

Great thread. Thanks x

mum47 Fri 07-Jun-13 14:40:55

My DS2 is nearly 12 and full of hormones too. Keep your sense of humour at all times! The "don't sweat the small stuff" is such good advice" though not always so easy to put into practice.

We have always encouraged our DS' to bring friends to the house, and have had sleepovers for years, always happy to feed an extra body or two. I think my DS' appreciate that we are laid back about this.

I would also say be honest with them, speak to them openly and honestly, they know and understand a lot more than we give them credit for. The conversations we have never fail to amaze me, and I love hearing the opinions they are forming as they grow up, and the times when they say certain things and you think, you did listen to me when I told you that years ago!

Never be afraid to say sorry to them and admit that you were wrong - I have always done this, and now mine are good at saying sorry (after their rage has gone and I am on the wine)

Happymum22 Fri 07-Jun-13 15:06:39

Looking back I wish I did more spontaneous low cost fun things, real 'memory making' things. Everything was always so busy and non-stop with 'no time' for those special things.
Unfortunately when my eldest DC were that I age we were going through a horrific time and so looking back I wish I had been able to be more open with them.
I wish I had encouraged their confidence and self-esteem more. With my elder two I didn't do this enough (eldest in particular was low on confidence) but by younger ones I was better and I can see the difference it made. Things like not critisising them or their choice of appearance and praising their achievements appropriately.
Not a regret, but something I am glad I did, is putting a good emphasis on education and getting into good habits. Speaking as a teacher, this is the age where real difference can be made and I am so glad I ensured DC had high aspirations and standards- without being a pushy annoying mother! It cut (a bit) of the angst and amount of moaning at them encouraging them later on as they had good routines and expectations of themselves.

Agree with OP while it can be hard (only managed it with my younger ones) it is good to lighten up and see the big picture, allow things to happen last minute and spontaneously. Don't sweat the small stuff. DD (24) said the other day she was so glad I let her and her friends pile in after clubbing and didn't make a fuss. They were always lovely and left the house the next morning, making beds behind them and washing up their breakfast stuff.

ZumbaZara Wed 07-Aug-13 17:11:07

I have a pack of teens, mine and some picked up on the way. I think it helps to think of what kind of adult you would like them to be and work back to think how they might get there.
For example they need to be able to keep calm on a minor crisis and think of a plan, so first of all they need to see you do that. Then they need to be a part of it: ask for their help, ask their opinion, chat through what is happening. Then slowly as time goes by step back. Let them know they can ask you for help ask your opinion but that they can cope alone.

Googlella Thu 08-Aug-13 23:14:58

I am still a relative novice at parenting teens - dd1 a young teen and it has been a steep learning curve!

I have been guilty of trying to keep her my little girl and frequently been disappointed that she no longer enthuses like she used to about activities organised by Mum. I have learned to allow her the freedom and independence she craves (with boundaries naturally). We get on best when she is allowed to fly; she loves to come home and tell us about trips with friends, nights out etc.

Start routines with household chores early!

Teens are often very wrapped up in their own little world of friends/ love interest. They need to be kept busy with interests/voluntary work to boost confidence and take them out of themselves.

Keep in touch with fellow Mums/dads of teens . Sharing anxieties and grumbles makes you realise you are not alone!

AuntySib Thu 08-Aug-13 23:19:31

Still try to find stuff we can do as a family - mine still enjoy walks, cards, films, barbeques together. gets harder all the time to keep everyone happy!

Googlella Thu 08-Aug-13 23:22:29

I agree Auntysib and holidays can sometimes be great for giving teens chance to get away from it all and not worry about being seen with parents etc.

MrsBottesini Thu 08-Aug-13 23:45:48

bookmarking smile

Sarah6568 Thu 15-Aug-13 10:14:19

Mine are now 22,20,18 and 12. With the older 3 I spent so much time worrying about doing the right thing. I filled their time with activities and school. And you know what? None of that really matters. They hardly remember any of it. Enjoying them is what counts. I look now at the mums at the park with their little ones and I'm so jealous. I would love that time again. Relax. Don't worry. And have fun. X

Ilovemyrabbits Thu 15-Aug-13 16:46:00

DD is 12 and I am desperate for her to be more spontaneous. She plans and enjoys planning everything and refuses to do things on a whim! I am struggling to let that idea go and to go with her flow rather than get frustrated by trying to go with mine.

I no longer go in her bedroom, other than to drop clean laundry onto her bed in a pile and, with her permission, to change her bedding. In-between times, I am not allowed in at all. I figure that's fine as she's a growing girl and needs privacy. I did worry about her friendships, as she no longer brings friends home very often, but on the occasions when her friends visit, she is such a delight. I can see that she would be good fun to be with and am sure she has good friends at school. She just compartmentalises well.

I am trying so hard not to argue with her about all kinds of stuff at the moment, but she seems to enjoy our 'debates' as she calls them. Sometimes I do too, but occasionally we both lose our perspective and get annoyed with each other. I would love us not to do that as we are buggers for clashing on topics of the day or even just household rules and stuff.

I am reading this thread and making notes too. I would hate to be one of those parents who can't let go, all the more so because dd is an only child and I am an older parent. I have always tried to encourage her independence and initiative but I can't say I'm finding it as easy now as I did when she was younger.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Mon 19-Aug-13 07:51:10

When they get up late making them eggy bread and sausages and just sitting with a cup of tea in the kitchen chatting. This was the time they all tended to confide in me. Now when the older two are back from uni 11.30am on a weekend morning has become family time.

Last week we all went to the beach star watching and they couldn't understand why I was crying, I expect you all do.

bellabom Tue 20-Aug-13 19:26:15

I'm a bit of a fraud on this thread as I only have one 14 year old and she is step, however, time with her has taught me a lot about things I want to do more of with my DD (7) before it's too late.

Things like telling her she's beautiful and talking about things that she should be proud of, telling her how clever she is and how special. Teenage girls (in particular it seems although boys in differnet ways) have some much horrible self image crushing stuff thrown at them these days.

Reading the rest with interest. And yes, I understand about the stars.

primroseyellow Tue 20-Aug-13 22:51:08

After difficult times with DC1 and other circumstances we stopped having family holidays. I wish I'd continued them with just us (DH and me) and DC2. I also wish I'd made more effort to engage both in conversation as teenagers, despite the difficulties and all the rudeness. Looking back it seems that we spent too much time in evenings different rooms ignoring each other. It did give them space but I think i should have made more effort.

sussexmum38 Wed 21-Aug-13 06:48:38

Remember and photograph family day trips and doing stuff on holiday together that they are genuinely happy to be there with you.

Hilarious. Just reading through this thread and found I had posted on it ages ago!

I am still jealous of the beach.

Preferthedogtothekids Sat 24-Aug-13 22:00:36

Take them to Disneyland! My kids are 14 and 16 now, but we had a fabulous long weekend there when they were 5 and 7. I loved every minute of it, they loved every minute of it - it was magical!

They barely remember it now sad, especially the my DD who was only 5. I want to take them again!

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