And what you definitely don’t need, or indeed want, to know
Obviously, you’re a brilliant mum. But, if you’re having a moment of self-doubt (possibly after the fourth door slam/stomp out of room of the day) or if you just want to up your mum game a bit during those tumultuous (for us, that is) teenage years, then this is for you.
How to get rid of acne
One of the best things about the internet is, undoubtedly, the oversharing, and there are plenty of beauty bloggers out there who like to go full disclosure on their struggles with acne in all its lurid glory – this might be a good place to start if you want to help your teen queen get some perspective (not something teens are famous for).
Second, it is a truth universally acknowledged that teens are not the keenest on cleaning, well, anything, so buying her a few little treats that make this more appealing than your constant nagging to have a shower is probably a good idea. Again, the World Wide Web is your friend here: if your suggestions that she try something made from the internet’s favourite ingredient – AKA activated charcoal – fall on deaf ears, then lead her gently to all the beauty bloggers who love the black stuff. Charcoal residue isn’t the most fun to clean out of the bath, but it does seem to work exceptionally well as a pore cleanser, and won’t aggravate peachy young skin, so you may have to just suck this one up.
What’s normal when it comes to periods
To which, in brief, the answer is quite a lot. Especially in the early years, when she is quite literally finding her rhythm (some of us are still looking for it). Your job is a) to share the positive menstruation message (which is: her body is doing all the right healthy things) and b) more easily, and practically, ensure she has a discreet essentials kit on her at all times (because she may forget and get caught out).
As the mum of a young teenage girl, there will be a brief but intense period of your life when you ask all your friends with teenage daughters precisely HOW involved they got with the practical side of learning about tampons. Just a heads-up: at the barest minimum, technically complicated charades will be involved.
How to deal with anxiety
Cast your mind back to being a teenager, when it felt like nothing in your life – from your body to your timetable – was under your control. Pretty stress-inducing stuff. Add to that all the new drama your daughter has to deal with that you didn’t (yes social media we’re looking at you); exams every five minutes; tuition fees; crazy-stupid expensive housing looming on the horizon – it’s not surprising this generation is the most anxious ever.
Your job sounds deceptively simple: keep things calm (fake it to make it); keep communication channels open; and show her you love her and are proud of her. Not so easy, but nevertheless, this is your job and, like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the mountain, you will do it.
Sleep, exercise and eating well can also be hugely helpful with anxiety levels. Which leads us on to…
How to make exercise something fun
So the news here isn’t all bad. Far from it, in fact. Yes, on the one hand the teenage years are notorious for when your lovely ballet dancing/gymnastic tumbling/swimming gala princess decides she’s had enough and would rather lie in bed watching idiotic YouTubers instead.
However, on the other hand, the world is so on your side here. Fitness has never been more on trend. There have never been more people on InstaStories looking cool in cut-out/mesh/metallic Lycra you can tempt her with. Athleisure isn’t just a thing, it’s a thing in a supermarket near you.
If old-skool netball in the rain doesn’t appeal to her, how about a boxing/yoga mash-up? Fitness by hula hoop or mini trampoline? Kettlebells, circuits, spinning are a few of the things gyms often offer at a teen level.
Teen still less than jumping with enthusiasm?. You may need to get out the big guns, ie get involved yourself. In fact, we’d recommend it as some shared mummy/daughter time having fun together – and that way you’ll both reap the fitness and confidence-boosting benefits of a good workout. Dish up a protein-packed Instagram-ready smoothie bowl (Google it) when you get home and some respect will be grudgingly forthcoming.
That she actually likes family meals (even if she is on her phone)
Yes, sometimes we all just want to inhale a bowl of carbs in front of Netflix. But if you can find the time to sit down together to eat it (and, if it’s not pushing things too far, make the carbs wholegrain at the same time – there’s definitely some brown penne lurking at the back of the cupboard), there are about a bazillion good things that will happen without you even trying. These include, but are not restricted to: giving your daughter a healthy body image and subtle lesson about what constitutes healthy eating/finding out what actually happened at school that day/sharing a joke.
Some experts are now going so far as to say regular family meals are more important than time spent in school, doing homework, sports or art when it comes to grades, and can help with resilience and mental health.
And what you don’t need to know
Exactly who is going to be at that party, and, subsequently, what exactly happened there. OK, so you ‘accidentally’ caught sight of her Snapchat messages and it didn’t make for entirely reassuring reading (the bits you could understand, anyway). Nevertheless you need to trust her on this. Keep on doing the good stuff you’re doing and she will find her way.
It’s also good to have a ready reckoner of what ISN’T normal, so the GP can be visited, pronto. This should include: periods lasting longer than a week; having to change pads or tampons more than every one to two hours; going longer than three months between periods; a menstrual cycle that was regular becoming irregular, or not bothering to kick in at all by the age of 16.
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