What, me forty?
May 10, 2013 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Hopping off the good advice spread here, I'd like a guide to navigating my next decade in general as me and my kids enter their tweens and middle school to high school.
posted by tilde to Human Relations (9 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
At 40 I decided to start eating much better and getting a lot more exercise. This might not apply to you, of course, but my knees started to hurt and my stomach became more unsettled -- GERD, needing to lose some weight and a poor diet all contributed to my not feeling as terrific as I did in my 30s. I found taking care of myself really helped to make me feel like my 40s were going to be great. And so far so good -- halfway to 50 now.
posted by Lescha at 8:00 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your 40's are awesome.

Your mid and soul are still elastic and you can transform quite a bit.

Try new things.

Do a check-in with your health. I highly recommend getting your genes sequenced for $99 by 23&me.com For less than the cost of a Doctor visit, you can get some real insight into the things you have the genetic markers for as well as some research based evidence for preventing those illnesses.

Do a check in with you general state of being. What works? What doesn't? Can you shed some stuff? This is the time. Less stuff = fewer problems.

As your kids start to grow up they will need you less, but also more but in different ways. Pay attention to what they are doing and try continue to fill them with love, support and confidence. Don't hover, but participate.

Let them fail at some things. Read about their generation, it's very different than yours. Neither one is better than the other and the thinking is very different, show them understanding and tolerance and they will mirror it.

Encourage them to read and to listen to both sides of issues and help them puzzle through things.

Don't force them to do stuff, but encourage them to try, especially when it's a little scary.

You don't have to eat every meal together, but try to get everyone together for at least one meal a day to do a check-in.

Go on at least one epic family vacation before they are too old and too busy.

Some of your friends will get divorced, some will get sick, some will die... take care of yourself first and you will be able to process and the things that happen around you.

Read a lot, listen better, love better, forgive yourself and others for any past transgressions.

Try to feel and ground yourself in the now.

This middle years of our lives are really fantastic.
posted by bobdow at 8:18 AM on May 10, 2013 [7 favorites]

Forty was when I needed to do a few things

- Start taking better care of myself and paying particular attention to stuff like sleep and stress and how much I was drinking/smoking. Getting better balances on all of those things was a big indicator of how I was feeling and was pretty controllable.
- Likewise I started a regular exercise routine and started paying attention to how I was eating. I ran some numbers and figured it would take me about nine months of low-sacrifice behaviors to get me down to what I felt was my optimum weight. I cut out some of my travel-for-work (which had some other positive side benefits) and decided to get this done and was happy I did. This also cleared up some knee and back problems I had been having, just carrying less weight around (and we're talking 20-25 pounds, not like 100)
- Look at myself in the mirror and realize that if I didn't do some of the things I'd said that I wanted to do (get a dog, go to London, hike the Long Trail) I either needed to get on that or stop saying that I was going to do it. Became a little less forgiving of my friends who did the same "Oh maybe someday..." things.
- Similarly if there were friends I wanted to stay in touch with, I should probably start that and not just assume that because we saw each other every few years that we were staying friends
- Non-computer-based hobbies. I made sure I had one.
- I got involved more with my real-life community and started doing some things that kept me more plugged in to the fabric of day to day life here. I started acting more like an adult person (funded a small scholarship, helped organize and plan events) and less of just an attendee

Basically just tried to live the life I felt I was living in my mind and my early 40's (also halfway through now) were when I did some reckoning to make sure the lief in my mind matched the real life day to day one I was living.
posted by jessamyn at 8:22 AM on May 10, 2013 [8 favorites]

I'm mid-40s now and I found that quitting coffee a few years ago made a huge difference in how well I sleep, which made a huge difference in how well I feel. In the last few months I've also given up diet soda. I pay attention to what I eat now, and although I often eat poorly, I at least am aware of that fact when I'm doing it. I've exercised in spurts, although I can't say I have managed to slay that beast yet. Also, with the kids in their teens and not needing us around, my wife and I go out way more often that we used to. When the kids were younger and we had to get a babysitter date nights were about as common as a solar eclipse. Now, we go out to a local pub or club or just for dinner and a movie several times a month. Granted, we are usually home by 11...
posted by COD at 8:50 AM on May 10, 2013

My tiny contribution here is that I'm seeing a lot of parents around me transferring their own unfulfilled ambitions onto their kids' shoulders. It's not pretty to watch them pushing their kids hard to achieve stuff they never managed to, no matter what the positive reasons they give. I'm trying my best to just let my son be who he is, and if he doesn't want to be the pre-teen I wish I'd been and achieve the things I wish I had at that early time in my life, that's fine - he's not me. We're all at that stage where we're reflecting on what we have and haven't achieved, but passing our 'unfulfilled list' onto the next generation isn't healthy. Better to achieve new stuff now and set a good example that they can follow - not what we achieve, but that when we try, we can. Perhaps something to step back and watch out for.

But in general I'm increasingly seeing my forties as a time to be me. Not anyone else's expectations of 'me', but just actually, authentically me, and live the life I want to live. That's not as selfish as it sounds as much of this is about being the better husband/dad I want to be. But it's healthy to be able to spot and let go of a lot of baggage accumulated so far!

And having just done it a couple of weeks ago I'll endorse the giving up coffee thing as well.
posted by dowcrag at 9:04 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thinking back: I was in my forties when I decided to ride the Pacific Crest Trail (north to south). It turned out to be a real pain in the ass, since I did it without any backup crew, and I didn't carry feed for the livestock. I won't bore you with the details, but, PITA factor aside, it was one of the neatest things I ever did, and I would do it again if I still had the sand.

I got behind schedule because that's how it works, and I never did quite make it to the Mexican Border (got snowed out at Forrester Pass in November).

If you haven't yet had a life's adventure, now is a good time to consider having one. There's some wisdom in the adage: "you haven't experienced real freedom until the kids get grown and the dog dies."

BTW: Take care of your teeth.

PITA = pain in the ass.
posted by mule98J at 10:59 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Look after your knees, you'll miss them when they start to betray you. Also be nice to your ankles and hips.
posted by wwax at 11:07 AM on May 10, 2013

Response by poster: I wonder if there are fewer of us crested past this milestone than the others. :)

I was surprised by the upcoming middle school and high school transition (I feel as though we have just put away the sippy cups), so I've started taking them to middle and high school events to see what other things they can get into at they age up.

Also have adjusted my work schedule. I get up a little earlier than before, but also home earlier to spend more time with them.

I don't (I think) believe I experienced my folks trying to re-live their lives through me in ways greater than "Don't do this really stupid thing I did". The more I learn about them, daily, the more I "get" why some of what they did was why they did it. Trying to just give mine choices and a fall back plan.

Though if Student Loan reform passes, I might finally take a degree in nutritional sciences ...
posted by tilde at 5:26 PM on May 11, 2013

Response by poster: Just got off of my physical. Weight could be better but doc is more interested in me maintaining my flexibility (I'm his youngest patient by about 15 years, though). Cholesterol and triglycerides are good. Need to do the mammogram thing.
posted by tilde at 5:53 AM on May 15, 2013

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