So, you’re a mom, but are you one of the elite group of Moms of Tweens?
It started so innocently, with a little squish of a baby. We nurtured that itty bit, feeding and snuggling. Through the years we’ve changed diapers, bandaged boo-boos, and wiped away tears. We’ve handled the fits and the sass, and when 5th grade came around, we felt good. Like we had a grip.
And now, at 11 and 12, things have changed.
Our darling little ones hover on the threshold of adolescence, not quite children, but not quite young adults. It’s a new age of parenthood, navigating these tricky years of the in-between. Brace yourself. You’re about to find out if you’re a proud member of Moms of Tweens Club.
The Tween “Bouquet”
Tween-dom starts with a very distinctive aroma. At this age, with the emergence of puberty, we move from those carefree days of less-than-consistent bathing to daily scrubbing, complete with a side dose of Febreeze. Once the initial shock clears, the situation is certainly manageable, but moms and tweens have to work together on appropriate hygiene, regular laundry and just a splash of air fresheners for good measure.
The Tween Uniform
The “tween uniform” can be summed up in one word: hoodie. Tweens love their hoodies. These cozy sweatshirts (oversized, pullover, with kangaroo pouch, please) are a staple in every 11-year old’s wardrobe, and there is no point in trying to fight it. On even the warmest days, expect that hoodie to be trotted out and worn, despite the danger of heatstroke or dehydration by sweating. Pro tip: tweens are generally oblivious to the cleanliness of the favorite hoodie, so snag it while they’re asleep for a spin in the washing machine.
The Tween Trail
Can’t find your tween? Not to worry! They may be selectively ignoring your summons, but at this age, most tweens leave a very clear trail to their precise location. Follow the yellow brick road … of socks, cups, half-eaten bags of snacks, and crumpled homework, and I guarantee you’ll find your child. They won’t be particularly thrilled at the prospect of having to clean the litter they’ve left in their wake, but the sooner they cover their tracks, the sooner they can hide from mom’s sharp eyes!
The Tween ‘Tude
We weathered the Terrible Twos and the Tantruming Threes, but the Tween ‘Tude can hit parents like a ton of bricks. It is marked with the most exaggerated eye rolls and exasperated sighs, coupled with the discordant sounds of ” … but Moooooo-oooooom.” You’ll also probably be it by the onslaught of slamming doors (please note: bedroom and bathroom doors are always slammed closed in the Tween Rulebook. Cabinets remain perpetually left open). This is the age of pushback, of testing boundaries and of trying to assert themselves as decision-makers, and moms of tweens know it’s a trying time. Take a deep breath, dig in, and choose your battles. It’s no good getting rattled by that tween ‘tude. Your kiddo is just trying to figure out her place in the world, and presenting a firm, calm side helps cooler heads prevail.
The Tween Diet
As these 11 and 12-year-olds mature, their growth makes them bottomless pits of ravenous hunger. It can be hard to keep them satiated, even to the point you may find them sneaking snacks to help fill their bellies. At this age, they can certainly use more calories, and moms of tweens can help the process by keeping the pantry stocked with plenty of nutritious snacks for the grabbing. I’m not promising you’ll be able to keep them away from the chips and cookies entirely, but you can certainly help the situation by providing appropriate fuel. Your grocery bill may take a bit of a bump, but growing children must be fed.
The Tween Hibernation
After all that eye-rolling and gorging on snacks, the average tween is, understandably, exhausted. You’ll probably notice your middle school-aged child complaining more of being tired, as well as sleeping longer and more deeply. It’s all part of the territory. Sure, it can make mornings more unpleasant as you struggle to get them out the door for school and activities, but it’s all part of the process.
As with all ages, tweendom comes with its own joys and its own challenges. This is the time we begin to see our children really come into their own, taking more responsibility and showing more independence. With that comes the emotions and irrationality as they bridge the gap from younger to older. Moms of Tweens know it’s a scary time for parents, but it’s scary for our kids, as well, as they learn to navigate new feelings, new bodies, and now emotions.
Tween moms, you’re part of a special club. You’re not alone and this, too, shall pass! And when it does, you’ll be ready for a well-earned mom-cation.