April is mental wellbeing month here at Body of Eve and I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to pen a piece about what rocks my wellbeing these days…dueling hormones at home. Between my perimenopasal hormones and the hormone swings presented by my lovely 16 year-old daughter, feeling mentally well on most days is a bit of a challenge.
As have many American women over the past couple of decades, I have enjoyed motherhood a little later than that of my mother. I keep wondering if I’d known about this parallel hormone track my daughter and I’d be facing if I’d maybe prayed for a boy. Although, I hear raising a teenage boy can be just as fun and I guess I’ll find out in a few years when my 11 year-old moves closer to junior high. That should be even more enjoyable as maybe he’ll be even luckier than my daughter. He will most likely be the proud owner of a menopausal mom.
These days, the average age of first-time mothers in the United States is 25.4, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That’s up 2.7 years from just 1980. This suggests that more and more, moms are entering perimenopause while their children are younger and going through their own hormonal chaos.
All that aside, I’ve been doing a lot of research to help all of us survive and came upon some helpful tips. They are mostly tips to help me cope with a hormonal teen, but I have found they definitely work both ways. For example, number two (see below) – encourage a time out. Remember that it works both ways. Sometimes giving myself space works wonders. Again, I find that all of these tips can easily be reversed.
- Acknowledge the Role of Hormones: It’s likely that hormonal changes are at least partly to blame for your adolescent’s moodiness and irritability. You can’t slow that wild ride, but you can ease it by teaching your child what’s happening to her body and how to recognize the impact of those hormonal shifts.
- Encourage a Time Out: Teens can sling some pretty bad energy at anyone in their path when the mood strikes. What can you do to curb the onslaught of emotions? Encourage them to take some time alone—because…it’s OK to take a time out from tears, anger and hormonal emotions. I find that the fact that my daughter has a brother makes things worse and space is even more important.
- Remember the Good Times: Can you successfully reason with an emotional, moody teenager? Not likely. Remember that emotions going back and forth aren’t call “mood swings” for nothing. So, when talking to our emotional teens about something remember there are better times than other to have a discussion. The real problems come into play when feelings become actions. Encourage both your teen and yourself to take actions when emotions aren’t running high.
- Encourage Healthy Habits: Hormones aren’t the only physical contributor to psychological mood swings. Emotions tend to get worse, for anyone, when you are fatigued or eating poorly, so helping your teen take good care of her body can help ease moodiness. Eat a healthy diet that includes not just fruits and vegetables, but also water. Sleep is also a big help (as we all know).
- Seek Help: When you are at wits-end, don’t be afraid to seek outside help. This can really help neutralize a situation and add outside perspective. A good family counselor is worth his/her weight in gold.
Tonight when your daughter runs crying from the dinner table when her brother points out that giant pimple on her chin and you don’t think you can handle one more round of discord because you were up all night with night sweats…send everyone to their room, pour yourself a nice big glass of Chardonnay, lock yourself in the bathroom and bury it all under a big pile of bubbles. Sometimes is all about perspective.
Phew! (and, good luck)