My children are aged five, eight, and almost twelve.
In many ways I feel like we are leaving behind the years of parenting little kids and moving on to the next phase…
Recently a friend who is still in the trenches with a toddler, a small baby, sleepless nights, and piles of nappies looked at me with pleading eyes and asked;
“Does it get easier as they grow up?”
I wanted to throw my arms around her and tell her “yes… YES! It most definitely does get easier” but it’s just not that simple.
Does parenting get easier as kids grow up?
In some ways yes, it is easier.
It is much less physically demanding now.
I get much more sleep. I am no longer breastfeeding, or carrying a toddler on my hip, or finding space for multiple kids on my lap, or rocking babies to sleep. I have a bit more time and space for myself these days, and I can only see that getting better.
I know more now than I did then.
I often felt like I was stumbling around in the dark when my kids were little, but after almost 12 years in the job I can see that I was actually learning a lot about kids, parenting, and life in general back then. That knowledge does make things easier now.
In some ways it is the same.
It can still feel relentless and all consuming.
It is still so hard to know if you are doing the right thing.
It can still stretch you to your limits.
It is still exhausting.
It still takes courage.
It is still joyous and heart breaking and awesome and amazing.
In some ways it is harder
The decisions seem bigger now, the worries greater.
When they were little I was dealing with things like who get to eat off the princess plate and how to get him to wear shoes to the shops. At the time that seemed exhausting and overwhelming, but now it seems so simple. These days I am coping with friends who suddenly stop liking you, decisions about high school, and puberty… and I can only see these issues getting bigger and harder as time goes on. There are so many things that I just can not fix these days
Letting go is harder than I ever imagined.
When they were little I knew my job was to keep them close, now as they get older I know my job is to let them go. Finding a balance between staying connected and close, while still letting them grow up to be the person they are meant to be is the hardest job of all.
So I hugged my friend and I told her the truth…
This all consuming, tiring, difficult patch will pass.
Things will change.
It may not get easier as your kids get older, but it will be different, and you will manage.
What do you think?
Does parenting get easier as kids get older?
PS: The photos in this post are of one of my twins holding her baby brother. In the photo Izzy is 6 and Noah is 2 weeks old, they are now almost 12 and 5! Oh my precious babies!
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Well. My oldest one will be 18 soon… woah, time did fly! I find it much easier now, because we have so many more shared interests now, her insights are very valuable to me, we can talk about so many more things than… dinosaurs or stuff, :-). And even though the problems that come along with puberty and becoming an adult sometimes seem so much harder, when you see them struggle… the way you can discuss it with your kid has become much easier — does that make sense?
The one thing, however, that has become harder, is the math homework she brings home and needs help with, sigh.
Samantha Jockel says
This is a great post and so true!! Having gone back to a baby after 5 years and having the two older girls now I am feeling all of the things. Knowing it is easier with the older girls in some ways compared to their 1 year old baby brother but also harder in other ways. What I am experiencing though after 8 years of parenting is the more the years roll on the more I have accepted this life with kids and the more I am enjoying it. I have found that the change that has happened in me is the thing that is making it easier. x
“that the change that has happened in me is the thing that is making it easier. ”
Oh yes! this!! So spot on!
Erica Loop says
I find it different. I do find that the stakes are higher and I worry more. When my son was a toddler and preschooler he was very high energy and tantrum-prone. Now that he’s a freshman in high school I feel like the consequences of possible behaviors are much worse. I think about what would happen if he went to a party and drank or stayed out all night — or worse.
I am on a significant learning curve with parenting at the moment (probably have been for the last 2 years). The world of adolescent boys is new and foreign to me so I have had a lot to learn. I have termed them the rollercoaster years. The easy bit are really easy and the hard bits are super hard!
Oh you are so right about the easy bits being really easy and the hard bits really hard – I am finding that with my girls as they go through puberty, so many lovely, super awesome things, but also lots of really super hard things too!
I think every stage have their challenge but definitely it’s so much easier and less physically demanding when they grow up. I have three kids between 16 and 9 they are independent and responsible with their activities.
I often long for the baby days again. Life was physically exhausting but simple…keep them safe, fed and happy. Now trying to handle a 7, 10 and 12 year old is mentally and emotionally exhausting, heartbreaking and frustrating at times and super busy! Yes, I can sleep in (if not running them to sport ) yes, I can pop to the shops quickly without dragging them along and care costs have dramatically decreased but easier? No not easier at all.