hands of younger kids cooking together and making a salad

Mom Life and Narcolepsy: Middle School

This will be my last article in a 5-part series on Mom Life and Narcolepsy. My other articles (pregnancy, new baby, toddler, and elementary years) offered a perspective of me having had experienced each stage of child-raising WITH narcolepsy and WITHOUT. This is the first article I write not knowing what it’s like WITHOUT narcolepsy.

This will also be my last article on Mom Life because while I have teens, I do not feel qualified to offer thoughts on high school years.

Mom life has gotten easier

Mom life with narcolepsy has gotten easier as the kids have gotten older. They are more helpful, certainly can take care of themselves, and are so used to my narcolepsy habits, that they don’t realize how unique our life is.

In the midst of this, I am looking for ways to conserve energy, so I can focus my energy on what’s most important.

Middle school kids and learning new skills

Middle school kids are capable of so much. We just have to spend a bit of time teaching them and then continuing to help them as needed.  Sometimes it is overwhelming teaching my kids new skills. But lots of people step in to help. My husband and parents are a huge help.  When that fails, YouTube has a surprising amount of videos teaching basic tasks.

How your middle school kid can help

Let’s talk about some of the ways your pre-teen might be able to shoulder the load while also learning skills that will help them as they grow into adults.

Have them cook one dinner a week

Your average middle school kiddo is able to take on a simple dinner. Whether it’s opening cans for Crock-Pot soup or making spaghetti, kids are able and often eager to help in the kitchen. My 6th-grade boy makes tacos every Tuesday. The consistency is helping him take more and more responsibility. As he gets better, he needs me less and less. After a few weeks of this, he has started adding to the grocery list too!

Teach them to do their own laundry

Again, this is a task that a regular ole middle school kid can take on themselves after some teaching. I will admit that we don’t sort our clothes as well as we should, but I can’t win 'em all.

Give them money to buy their own clothes

I detest standing in a store arguing with my middle school girls about clothes. Between arguing and shopping, I am left an exhausted mess who is tweaking out from cataplexy attacks. My solution is to give them a set amount of money 4 times a year to buy clothes themselves.  They have learned to shop sales and thrift stores while also choosing to buy that one more expensive item on occasion. Money management, budgeting, and thriftiness are all learned, while I save energy.

Talk to your kids

Middle school kids are smart. These are great years to share more details about what living with narcolepsy is like and how they can help. I have been so blessed to see my kids grow more compassionate toward me and others because of my narcolepsy and their experience growing up with it in our life.

Pay your middle schooler to watch your younger kids

I “hired” my girls when they were 12 to be available throughout the month to watch the younger kids so I could rest or run errands alone. Running errands with kids is utterly exhausting. This helps me not have to do that. I pay a salary of $20, paid monthly. They loved the extra money.

It’s never too late to start teaching your kids so if you have gotten a late start, don’t fret, just get started now.

Talking to my kids about cataplexy

If you have severe cataplexy, talk to your kids. Share a little about how it feels and what to do if it happens in public. I teach my middle school kids to stay right next to me so I know they are there, and reassure people around us that we don’t need an ambulance.  

They also know to watch out for our younger kids and reassure them. It seems like a lot of responsibility, but many kids are able to shoulder it appropriately.

Like I have said, every kid and parent is different. Take these ideas and run with them, change them, or ditch them based on your circumstances. My hope is no matter what, they will spark ideas, and thoughts that will lead to a stronger family.

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