Jessica Rowe's decision a reminder tweens and teens need parents' time too

Rowe announced her departure live on air.
Rowe announced her departure live on air. Photo: Ten

Jessica Rowe announced last week that she's giving up her gig on Studio 10.

"My family need me," she said. "I want to be a more present mum for my girls. Allegra and Giselle need their mum.

"It's something I need to do, it is as simple as that."

This has surprised everyone for many reasons, not least of which is because her children are aged 11 and nine.

At this point of parenting, we're used to hearing parents say they're doing more: working more hours, taking on some hobbies that they now have time for, maybe getting out more without the kids.

We're not used to seeing parents of tweens and teens step back to spend more time parenting.

We know that our kids need lots from us while they're little: that's why we take parental leave in the early days, and it's why part-time work is so valued in the baby and toddler years.

Once they start school, though, we tend to step back. The unspoken expectation is that, as they get into the later years of primary school and then move through high school, us parents continue to back off. 

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The truth is that our teens and tweens still need our time, just as much as they did when they were little. It's different now – we don't have to do everything for them anymore or supervise every minute – and yet it's somehow the same.

I know I'm feeling that realisation lately.

Rowe's announcement came at the end of a week in which I struggled to achieve anything outside of parenting. It was an intense time dealing with a number of issues between my two children: grief, friendship worries, sleep anxieties, sickness, and the list goes on.

I've been a shoulder to cry on, I've listened and listened, and have had to stay calm and solid through it all.

There have been medical appointments, school appointments, and a lack of sleep.

I spent time researching books to help them understand some of these issues, talked it over with a couple of wise friends to get some perspective, and gave up any extra tasks (like, um, cooking a proper dinner) to sit and really hear the kids.

I even tried (tried!) to take a little downtime to refresh myself, so I'd be ready to help and listen when the kids got home from school.

And it's not just the time.

All of this is exhausting; they say that a mum is only as happy as her unhappiest child, and it's true that my kids' worries become my own. The emotion of seeing your children go through hard times takes its toll. The energy it takes to be there whenever they need us can't be underestimated.

So, when it came time to sit at my desk and get some work done last week, well, not a lot happened. It became one of those weeks where the minimum had to be enough.

Older kids, tweens and teens don't require our solid time constantly, as they did when they were little, but they sure do need us.

Sometimes they need us with more intensity – emotionally and mentally – than ever before.

And, while it's unrealistic for most of us to quit a job to be with our kids, Rowe's announcement is a timely reminder to adjust the expectations we have of ourselves.

We're still parents, and that takes a lot of energy.