teens

"Family fun is compulsory." A mother-of-four shares her Five Golden Rules for parenting tweens.

Mamamia’s Five Golden Rules series takes a pervy look into the lives of Australian families. From parents of toddlers to parents of teenagers, the series asks parents to share their golden parenting rules, including the rules for their kids, and their rules for just getting through the day.

This week, mother-of-four Angela shares her Five Golden Rules for parenting tweens and teens.

My name is Angela, and I am a mother of four kids aged 13, 11, 10, and eight. 

When I tell people I have four kids, they often ask how I do it all. The honest answer is I’m just making it up as I go along and trying my best, just like every other parent I know! 

Here are my Five Golden Rules for parenting:

1. Family fun is compulsory. 

With four kids, each with their own sports, interests, and friends, we don’t always get to spend much time together. (Well, we didn’t pre-lockdown.) 

We’d often get to Sunday night, having not spent any time together as a family all weekend. 

That was until I mandated compulsory family fun. 

 Watch: The things parents never say on school holidays. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia.

The only rule of compulsory family fun is that everyone must play. Some weekends everyone chooses a game, and we have to play them all. Other times we just pick one game and play for chocolates. 

Hide and seek is a firm favourite, followed by the most ridiculous card game called Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza. 

While there may be whining when we start the games, no one ever wants them to end. Except maybe at Easter when I suggested we play putt-putt with boiled eggs. Or when the kids make me play Xbox.

2. Everyone cooks dinner once a week.

I love to cook for my family and for friends. But the monotony of deciding what to cook and cooking dinner EVERY SINGLY DAY made me want to scream. 

So my husband and I hatched a plan. 

The rule now is that everyone chooses a night and meal to cook at the start of the week, and we (by we, I mean my husband) make sure the ingredients are in the house. 

Does it make cooking dinner any easier? Nope. Probably harder. Definitely messier. Without a doubt, slower. Many meals require an adult in the kitchen to help out. 

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But it means the meals are planned, and the ingredients are in the fridge. And most importantly, it means that the kids are learning to cook. And I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels when one of the kids pokes their head in the office door and asks if I'd like them to cook dinner because they know how busy we are.

3. Daily exercise is essential.

There is little doubt that exercise makes us all feel happier and be nicer human beings. Thankfully, the science backs this up to show the positive impact exercise has on self-confidence and mental health, alongside, of course, physical health. 

In our house, unless you are sick or injured, it’s necessary to leave the house to exercise every day. 

Everyone can choose whatever exercise makes them happy and often meet up with friends to play basketball, ride bikes, climb trees or kick a ball. 

At the moment, my son Jack is teaching me to do tricks on a skateboard, providing us both hours of laughing (often at my expense) and exercise at the same time. 

Image: Supplied 

4. Attack life with a growth mindset.

I want the kids to grow up with a passion for learning and trying new things. Encouraging the kids to change their mindset from 'I can't' to 'I can't yet' helps them see that just because they can’t do something today doesn’t mean they can’t do it forever. 

Inevitably they come looking for help from a sibling or parent, looking on YouTube or Google for the answer, or trying a new way to solve the problem. 

In lockdown, I asked my son Max to teach me how to do a Rubik's Cube. It’s always been on my 'I can't yet' list – something people with planning brains could solve. 

Image: Supplied.

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With a lot of patience, Max taught me step-by-step how to do the cube. It was surprisingly easy, and amazing to learn in a week what I wanted to do for 30 years. 

It also showed the kids that even as adults, we have to put in the effort if we’re going to learn something.

A crucial part of trying new things in our house is accepting that you (and others) will make mistakes, and that’s a great way to learn. I often get things wrong when I’m parenting, cooking, DIYing, or crafting. 

I share my stuff-ups with the kids so they know that making mistakes is normal and just another way to learn. 

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5: Filling my own cup.

I thrive on the chaos and busyness of a house full of people, but it’s also exhausting and tiring. I make sure that I find the time to prioritise my own wellbeing. 

This means putting the time in the diary to regularly exercise with friends and saying no when the kids insist they are coming along as well! That’s my time to catch up, check-in, and solve each other’s work and parenting challenges.

When there is an endless list of chores to be done, spending a Saturday afternoon upcycling a piece of furniture may not seem like a good choice. 

Yet taking time out for projects I love rejuvenates and re-energises me and makes me a more patient and engaged mum. That’s better than clean dishes.

Do I suggest you go away and put all of these rules into practice with your family immediately? Ha! Absolutely not. But if any of these 'rules' sound like they may help, then please steal away. We are all navigating this crazy ride of parenting together.

Over to you, do you have five rules that you won’t bend on? To share your Five Golden Rules, email [email protected] with 'Five Golden Rules' in the subject line.  

Feature Image: Supplied

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