Big changes happen between the ages of 10 and becoming a teenager at 13, from taking responsibility at the top of Junior school in that final year, before leaving buddies they’ve spent their entire lives with and moving into the next (exciting, daunting, demanding) phase ie secondary school.
Fashion, sport, mobile phones and the internet become an increasingly important part of their lives and the tussle between waiting to be all wrapped up safely at home and wanting independence really starts with a vengeance. They stop believing in Father Christmas and don’t want you to hold their hands anymore (crumbs, sometimes they don’t even want to be seen walking with you!).
So if your cherubs are on the turn, and you and your children are at that ‘inbetweenie’ stage, where is the joy or is it all downhill towards teenager hell from now on? Not at all – the key is a shift of attitude – yours and theirs!
They are no longer little children, and so your role changes from now on in from being a caretaker to being their manager. The demands of the average Tweenies’ social diary, from sleepovers to sports fixtures at 8am on a weekend, is likely to tax even the most organised WAHM, and this gives you the clue. While boundaries obviously need to be applied, they also constantly need reappraising as the children grow and change so that it fits in with you and the rest of the family, not dominates.
With your children’s increasing independence and wannabe consumerism comes increased responsibility. No longer little children needing to be shepherded and cossetted, that means they can now take on their share of the chores and jobs around and out of the house – and should be expected to as their contribution to the household. And what is best about tweenies is that they still want to be with their parents but they are much more their own people, so conversations and investigations become a central part of your daily lives as they notice and question everything around them. Yes, it is a bit like having toddlers again, but hopefully without the tantrums!
By the time my two turned tweenie they were expected to go to the corner shop for milk and bread, tidy their rooms, set the table, and do the washing up. By ages 10 and 12, one is responsible for dusting the whole house on a weekly basis and the other for cleaning the bathroom. They walk the dog daily and do poo pick up from the garden, look after the cats and other pets, cook meals, wash and clean the car, set and clear the table, run errands and keep upstairs and their downstairs craft area tidy (ish). I haven’t taught them to iron yet (mainly because the younger one has a tendency to daydream, which could be dangerous!) but they take responsibility for their money (they have an allowance) and have mobile phones, which they are responsible for keeping charged up and safe so I can reach them or they can reach me at any time – they can make free calls to me and their father, but if they want to chat to their friends they have to use their allowance money or earn extra for top up by doing extra chores.
Adventures and Companionship
The other great joy of the tweenie is that they now become your companions in adventures and other activities. Trips out crayfishing, paintballing, surfing or ballooning, for example, become much more doable and fun now you don’t have to be constantly on red alert.
Shopping and lunching out (if they are female-flavoured) becomes a positive pleasure rather than an experience never to be repeated.
Just hanging out and having Top Nights In is fun because you like the same stuff, watch the same movies, play board games, whatever you like to do as an individual or couple now becomes stuff you do as a family. And that’s just how it should be, isn’t it?
That’s a proper family. So all hail the pre-teenie – and here’s looking forward to the fabulous teens they well become!
© Claire Burdett. Please only reproduce this article with permission, in its entirety and with a hyperlink to www.claireburdett.com. Thank you.
First published on www.funkyangel.co.uk, the ultimate lifestyle website for WAHM and Home Businesses.