I keep seeing posts from parents discussing how their teenagers are staying up all night and sleeping all day while not in school. And if that is what is giving your house peace and comfort right now, then keep doing it. We all need to do what’s best for our families.

But as much as I want my kids to grieve what they are missing during this time they are forced out of their daily lives, and as much as I want them to find some rest from the busy-ness, there is one thing I want them to find more.

Purpose.

A reason to get out of bed each morning, and something that makes them feel satisfied when they close their eyes each night.

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Growing up, my mom never let me sleep in very late. I never set an alarm, and she didn’t come into my room each morning, gently shaking my shoulder to let me know it was time to wake. 

Nope, she would gruffly run the vacuum cleaner down my hallway and into my door a few times. She’d come in and out delivering laundry loudly closing the door each time. She’d let a dog into my room.

It seemed passive-aggressive at the time, but now I know it was her way of telling me to get my butt up because there were things to take care of in our house, that it was time for me to do my part. 

My parents had rules that they only strayed from in rare circumstances. There was no going out for me until I did my family chores, including ensuring my room was clean. End of story. Attending a family gathering was non-negotiable and the highest priority. I had a curfew and needed to earn my own spending money.

Sure, there were exceptions, but my parents—without even realizing it—gave me a structure upon which to find purpose.

And it’s stuck with me my whole life. It was a gift.

So, when my kids stopped their normal routine, my kids who are involved in sports and challenging academic classes and volunteer activities, I told them they needed to get up between 8 and 8:30 a.m. every school day—and if they aren’t downstairs by that time, I wake them up. Their phones and other electronics remain downstairs starting at 10 p.m. They have to do something active every single day or no mindless time on their gadgets. They have to read a little bit and there are times we spend together as a family—no exceptions.

Sure, I’m not paying that much attention to their screen time or worrying about their TikTok obsessions or the fact that they are sometimes on Facetime with three friends literally just sitting there staring at each other–but they also know that they have things to do each and every day.

Which gives them purpose.

And your purpose might look different than mine. It could be studying your faith or a home project or volunteering or learning a craft; but, there has to be a reason to get out of bed each morning no matter what life throws at you.

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Today, it is based on what I think is important, but the next time something like this happens in our world, and it will, I want my kids to know how to get through it, how to go on in the midst of your world coming apart, how to feel connected to life even when nothing is the same.

How do you get your kid to wake up earlier? I don’t have the answer, and I don’t even know if the way I do things is right. Based on the eye rolls and sighs, I don’t think my teens are thrilled with my rules.

But my mom gave me reasons to get up each and every morning whether I liked them or not. And I’m doing the same for my three teens.

It’s the way we’re getting through these uncertain times.

Originally published on Playdates on Fridays by Whitney Fleming

 

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a communications consultant, and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays.