This post: Hey Mom, I Don’t Think I Can Do It All
Written by: Carol Moore
I don’t think I can do it all – take the hard classes, get good grades, and excel in sports. Even finishing my homework, getting to bed on time and keeping my room clean sometimes feels like too much. There is so much noise, Mom. My friends and social media and gossip. Please know that I really am doing my best, even though it might not look like it. I am trying to do it all, but some days… I just can’t.
~ Your teen
Why did life have to become so demanding for our teenagers? When did expectations get so high for them? And, is this fast-paced, demanding life propelling them into greater happiness and success? Or, is it creating a generation fraught with more anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation than we’ve ever seen before?
As a mom of two boys who just recently exited their teen years, I’m not just a witness to this debilitating phenomenon, I was an unaware participant. And, if I could go back and do a few things differently, I would.
Hey Mom, I Don’t Think I Can Do It All
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It started with sports…
It’s a quiet transition that slowly envelopes your family. It started out with mommy and me gymnastics at age three, T-ball at five, then soccer, karate, and basketball followed. My boys were naturally competitive and social. They wanted to do these activities, and they were having fun! We were becoming a busy family trying to keep up with life’s pace and I loved seeing my boys’ physical and social skills develop.
Sports became more competitive…
But soon enough, the tide shifted. My boys’ once “just for fun” sports turned into higher-level competitive leagues with year-long expectations, rather than just seasonal. Weekends became a blur of practices, games, tournaments, and traveling to sports events with Sunday evenings being equally as exhausting just trying to prepare for another busy week ahead.
And then the homework piled on…
With each passing year, school became more difficult and demanding with my kids being pounded with several hours of homework a night and an unrelenting list of projects that were due, not to mention the high stress of honors and advanced classes.
Then iPhones and the lure of social media…
The seductive grip of their phones, the constant lure of social media, and the 24/7 plethora of endless information added a mesmerizing draw that pulled my boys in, pulled them away, captured their attention, and drained them.
Without even realizing it, we found ourselves on the hamster wheel of high-level academics, competitive year-round sports, the world of social media, constant scrolling and the internet, their jobs, volunteering, and more. It was all so exhausting… for them and for me.
Despite the constant chaos of it all, it also seemed so “normal.”
We were rushing through life right alongside other families doing the same thing. Everyone quietly comparing – whose kid was the busiest, whose kid was the best, and whose kid had a shot at being recruited for collegiate sports.
Middle and high school kids were fighting to get on the trajectory to play collegiate or professional sports, including one of my own kids, all while balancing school, homework, and studying. These teens (including my own) were getting up at 7:00 a.m. (or earlier) spending seven hours in school, two hours at sports practices, and then coming home only to face hours of homework.
My son was struggling to keep up the pace.
Amidst their “always on the go” schedule, these overburdened kids were navigating a flood of physical and emotional changes that were throwing them off balance. Their minds and bodies were growing, they were trying so hard to figure out who they were and how they fit in and they were dealing with friend drama, gossip, and bullying and being exposed to drinking, drugs, dating, and sex.
The unrelenting schedule eventually caught up to us…
There was a pivotal moment that made me realize we HAD to make a drastic change in our lives. My 14-year-old son and I were driving home from a sporting event when he turned to me and said, “I feel like I’m losing myself, Mom.”
The sport he once loved had turned into a “job.” His identity had become enveloped by this one aspect of his life. It was a wake-up call for his dad and me.
What were we doing? How did we get here? What happened to the fun? We thought we were supporting our son’s successes in sports and school when in actuality, we were unknowingly inching up the bar so high that it was becoming nearly impossible for him to reach.
Our son’s bravery to speak up and say, “I just don’t think I can do it all,” brought to light how much our son (and so many other kids in this generation) are expected to manage and excel at everything. Well… they can’t.
We didn’t want our boy to lose himself, and we certainly didn’t want to lose our boy.
We handed the reins to our boys…
We were able to see through a new lens what was important; the health and happiness of our sons.
We encouraged and allowed them to let go of what felt like too much. We freed them to relax more, play more, and just be teens—something I wish we had done much sooner.
I won’t get the chance to do this time over with my boys, but my hope in sharing my story is that other parents might recognize sooner than I did how easy it is to allow our kids to slip into this arduous way of life. And, by having this awareness, maybe their teens won’t have to come to the place where they feel like they can’t do it all.
About Carol Moore:
Carol is a certified Coach, Parenting Teens Advocate, and author of Bridges Not Barriers – The Art of Building a Better Connection with Your Teen. She is also a designated Global Presence Ambassador for Parenting 2.0, a non-profit organization recognized around the globe for the Life Skills educational process. With 15 years of experience working with young children and their families, and having raised two teens of her own, she has a passion for sharing her knowledge in raising teens with grace, compassion, honesty, and trust. Follow Carol on Instagram and check out her book here: BRIDGES Not BARRIERS: The Art of Building a Better Connection with Your Teen