Disclosure: Dream Resorts provided an all expenses paid trip to Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa including travel, accommodations and activities. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #MomsEscape #MotherDaughterEscape #ad
Parenting tweens. It can be a challenge. Your child will be changing, growing up, experimenting and testing everything around them, including you. I recently had lunch with a woman whose daughter had just left home and I asked her if she had any advice for me, since my daughter is ten years old and we are entering a new phase. She said, “I made a mistake with my daughter. I tried to be tough. I made a lot of rules. I wish I would have worked harder on creating and maintaining a close relationship with her.”
Rules or relationship?
What do you think?
Are the tween years a time to power through and be strict about rules
or is flexibility and relationship-building more important?
Jo Frost, author of six parenting books, has been my favorite role model. I watched her television show, Supernanny, and used her books as guides. She stressed the value of schedules and routine. From a toddlers perspective, she showed me that rules, schedules and routines were a comfort, creating a sense of security. With my daughter’s adoption experience, this was an especially important area of concern. At the very start, I made detailed schedules for eating, sleeping, and play. Another piece of advice I took from Jo Frost was the establishment of family rules. In almost every home Jo went into, she would make a list of rules for children to understand. I liked the idea of creating boundaries. Jo also emphasized how important it was to consistently stick to those rules. Once you show a child that you will change or bend the rules, you’ve lost all accountability. Consistency not only gives a child a sense of foundation and grounding, it avoids the constant battles that many families experience. The simple tips she gave, for example getting down to a toddler’s level and making eye contact before saying something important worked miracles. Changing your voice to show that you are serious is a trick I couldn’t do very well, so I would actually announce to my daughter, “this is my serious-mommy voice” and that worked well for me! So many things I learned from Jo Frost, but now? Uh oh, her advice and books are for toddlers. Help! Now I have a tween!
Before my daughter came home to our family, I read quite a few parenting books. I think it’s time for me to head to the library and start again. Readers, if you have any recommendations, please leave a comment! Advice? Please help!
Some things from the toddler years I’m going to keep, but adjust. For example, the schedules. While I’m no longer going to have detailed schedules of every activity, I am going to insist on a minimum of nine hours of sleep every night. My daughter is a pretty even-tempered kid and I think that is due in part to the fact that she has gotten more sleep than the average kid. I am not, never have been, strict about a specific bed time, but I am strict about hours of sleep. Yes, if there is nothing going on tomorrow and you can sleep late, then you can stay up later tonight. If you have a friend sleeping over and it’s a once-in-a-blue-moon then yes, you don’t have to get ten hours of sleep. But on a regular basis? Sleep is important. I just read that in a 12 step program, they say that you make bad choices when you are H-Hungry, A-Angry, L-Lonely, or T-Tired. I think that is true, especially for children. Meltdowns come when kids are hungry, angry (never get to make their own decisions about anything), lonely (ignored), or tired. A well-fed, well-rested child that is loved and has boundaries but not strict rules for every movement is much more likely to be happy, good-natured, cooperative, and a joy to be around. That doesn’t sound like rocket science but it’s something that as parents, we can easily forget. So my plan? A minimum of nine hours of sleep on a consistent basis. Healthy, well-balanced meals.
Okay now the more difficult part, the psychological needs for independence and love. We all love our kids, but unfortunately, they don’t always know that we love them. A few years ago, I overheard a friend of mine, asking her daughter, “Who is my precious treasure?” Of course the answer should be, “ME!” I started doing it with my daughter, asking her, “Who is my precious treasure?”. Over the years, it has usually been, “ME!” but occasionally, I get a “I don’t know…” or a “Who?” and I know that I haven’t been doing my job of ensuring that my daughter knows she is important, loved, and precious. What are ways to show your child they are loved? My answer would be, “listen”. When someone listens, really listens to us, don’t we feel important and loved? It’s one of my favorite memories of my own mom. After school I would come home and she would listen to me for hours telling her the details (ad nauseum) of my day. She still listens to me for hours ramble on and on about my day. And it makes me feel special, makes me feel loved. I want to give that gift to my daughter.
But what about a need for independence? Like the toddler, rebellion comes when every decision is made for you. Strength comes from making your own decisions. Wisdom comes from making your own mistakes. Are the tween years time to let go of the reins? Loosen? But how much? I want to allow mistakes, but not any that have permanent consequences! I want her to be exploratory, but safe! Whew! This is going to be difficult, I’m feeling it already.
Very soon after I had lunch with the woman who talked to me about rules vs relationship, I had the opportunity to go on a vacation with my daughter – just the two of us. A bell rang in my head, this is a way to create shared, unique memories. A way to have time to spend time with her away from the distractions of day-to-day life. The vacation was a type that would be conducive to bonding and relationship building – an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico.
If you are looking to bond with your child and have the resources to take a vacation, I highly recommend an all-inclusive resort like Dream Resorts. It was relaxing, stress-free, safe and fun. We could relax in sunshine, share time together without any pressures, experience new things together. Because it was all-inclusive, we could have that appetizer before dinner, order an expensive meal, add a special dessert without causing anxiety. Because it was a Dreams Resort, there was entertainment and activities – all included. We could go to a show, but leave if it wasn’t to our style or because we would prefer a walk on the beach. We could order room service for breakfast one day and go to the amazing buffet the next.
An all-inclusive vacation at Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa gave us no worries for mom, and time together. Time to focus on a mother-daughter relationship and have fun! Read more about our experience here: 5 Tips On How To Get The Most Out Of Your All-Inclusive Vacation. If you can, book a trip for one of the winter months. There are incredible savings of up to 55% for early booking. Check out the special offers with this link, Dream Resorts Special Offers. And don’t forget, leave some advice for me on parenting a tween in the comments of this post!