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!