Tween to Teen: Transitions this Fall

Transitions can be challenging for anyone, but especially when you’re a tween. Whether they’re starting middle school or sprouting 6 inches in one summer they’re likely to be feeling some growing pains (both physically and emotionally) this summer.

This summer was a big transition for our family as we moved away from the home and area my tweens, aged 10 and 12, had always known to Minnesota. Not only were we dealing with the challenges of transitioning to our summer selves (no early bedtimes to be found!), we were leaving behind loved ones, too.

In a word it’s been tough. But on of the things I noticed about my tweens transitioning this summer is that they are both still in need of ‘little kid’ stuff, too. I know they’d cringe at that, the same as I would have at their age, but there’s truth to the idea that they’re both little kids and teens in one body. At this age there’s just a lot going on, but this summer they have embraced playing again, something they sadly don’t have enough time for during the school year, and forged deeper relationships with each other as their interests and struggles have started to match up.

They’ve also been so grown up in some ways-handling a 1,000+ mile move with excitement and encouragement to each other even during the bad days. Giving them the summer to just ‘be’ and get bored has been even better. It’s proven to me that their happiness in the future will come from within themselves. That’s something that’s so key as they transition into the hormone laden, confusing, and fun teenage years.

I know this isn’t the end of our transition time. With school just around the corner adjusting to bedtimes and new routines and making new friends is going to be both fun and scary for them. At the end of the day though I know that the kids will be alright-they’ve already shown much more grit than I could ever have imagined.

Lest I leave you without some practical advice here are a few things that help us during transitions:

Sleep is key: I feel like a broken record that no one listens to when I bring this up to other parents, but I find sleep is key for my kids. No late night practices. No devices in bed. Bedtime is set and so is your alarm. If your kids aren’t back to school yet start transitioning back to that routine with earlier bedtimes and earlier wakeup calls. The week before school starts have kids get all the way back to their schedule, so they’re prepped for the first week instead of grumpy and sleepy.

Eat right: I love ice cream as much as the next person, but it’s time to cut back. Summertime can often mean an overload of junk food. Get the kids back on a routine meal plan. I’ve gone so far as to pack bagged lunches (like they get for school each day) for a few days to get them in the habit of a lunch meal instead of the incessant grazing that usually happens at our house in the summer.

Get those back to school supplies set: I’m a back to school supply nerd, so I love buying all the fresh notebooks and pens. If you don’t take my advice and order it online or via the school so it’s done and you can check that off your to do list.

Remember to check the schedule: I have been guilty of messing up our first week schedule more than once, so check, double check, and triple check bus numbers or pickup times.

Relax: Most importantly behind that structure and planning be sure to relax a little. Your kids will likely have tough moments during that first week or two, so be patient and remember that this too will pass.

Do your kids handle transitions with ease or have you noticed an adjustment period in your house each summer and fall?kelly_whalen1

Kelly Whalen is a writer, family finance expert, and mother of four. When she’s not doling out advice and tips online she can be found playing with her dog or hunting Pokemon.