So here it is, Day 3,911 of quarantine with your teens &/or young adults, and if you’re like me, the boat that started off sailing over relatively smooth waters is starting to rock a little bit.
Or perhaps yours is already capsizing.
Whatever state the waters are that you’re navigating, I have some important dos and don’ts to help you stay afloat right now, because despite how vast the ocean seems, we will eventually reach solid ground, and when you disembark you’ll want everyone in your crew to still be standing … or at the very least, alive.
Rules for quarantine survival with teens
Do give them the space they need.
Don’t lock them out of the house when they go out for a walk, no matter how much they’re getting on your nerves.
Do let them continue to live like college kids.
Don’t be alarmed when their towels stand up on their own.
Do expect them to help out and have respect for the house rules.
Don’t expect the smile you also expect to go along with it to be genuine. (Don’t forget, yours probably isn’t either.)
Do make sure they have the important things they need on hand.
Don’t yell, “HEY, DO YOU NEED MORE OINTMENT?” when they’re in the middle of a video chat with their friends.
Do let them eat what they want.
Don’t judge Hot Cheetos and milk for breakfast until you’ve tried it.
Do let them make messes, within reason.
Don’t set fire to the pile of crap that you told them to put away a week ago; the sweater they stole from you is probably in there.
Do let them know yelling at you is not acceptable.
Don’t forget that rule does not apply to the parent.
Do let them be bored.
Don’t pass up that opportunity to have them organize the pantry.
Do remember that no matter how old they are, you can (and should) say no and set firm boundaries when necessary.
Don’t forget that probably goes for you and the wine stash, too.
Do take an interest in your teen’s Zoom classes.
Don’t pop your head in the screen to say hello to the professor and the rest of the class; that’s not being a “cool mom,” that’s being an embarrassing one.
Do try to eat a few meals together a few times a week.
Don’t feel badly if the meals come from a box, cereal or otherwise.
Do remember to carve out alone time for yourself and your spouse/partner.
Don’t forget you’ll need to close (and lock) the door again.
Do empathize with your college grad’s worries about securing a job in the unsettling future.
Don’t let it slip that if they’re living back at home indefinitely, their new job will be as your landscaper … and housekeeper … and cook.
Do join in a fun activity with your teens.
Don’t trust that you can still do a high kick when you’re making the TikTok video; this is not the time for a trip to urgent care.
Do let them vent about this stressful, sad and questioning time in their lives.
Don’t assume you have the answers they need. Just listen.