When Does Parenting Get Easier?

Posted on January 18, 2008. Filed under: Family Life |

Friday is about Family Life

My two older children were born 16 months apart, and it was tough when they were toddlers. Two kids in diapers. Two kids who woke up at the crack of dawn. Two kids who were constantly on the run. Two kids who didn’t like to nap. There were days when all I wanted to do was to curl up into a ball and sleep until they were old enough to go to school.

I knew my job would be less tiring and stressful as my kids got older, but I wanted to know exactly when that would happen. One day I asked a friend whose children were older than mine “when is this going to get easier”? Her response was “it doesn’t get easier, it gets……different”. Hmmm, now what does THAT mean?

By the time my kids started school, caring for them was easier because they were potty trained, could talk, and were able to follow more directions. However, their being in school meant I had to pack lunches, help with projects, oversee homework and help with class trips. They also had more friends so we started managing their social calendars which were filled with birthday parties and playdates. Next came sports, and our Saturdays were filled with attending games and cheering them on.

Now they are older and in high school. They REALLY talk, and seem less able to follow directions than when they were younger. Their activities and interests have us dropping them off for team practices at 7AM on weekends, attending sporting events and plays, and scheduling our family vacations around their activities because they do not want to miss anything. Parties now require a lot of monitoring from us as parents to make sure they are safe, no liquor or drugs will be available, and there is adequate adult supervision.

Very soon they will learn how to drive. One mother told me watching her child drive away in a car for the first time was the scariest moment in all her experience as a parent. I can imagine what that will be like, and now I will have sleepless nights because I am waiting for my children to come home.

So I finally have figured out what my friend meant when she said it gets “different”. Parenting can be stressful. In the beginning the stress was about sleep deprivation, but my children’s needs were fairly simple. Later it morphed into the stress of time management and my kids’ need to explore the world. Most recently, it has been about their need to distance themselves from their parents, which sometimes conflicts with our need to protect them and keep them safe.

I also notice that as my kids get older, we talk, we joke, we laugh, we can enjoy each other’s company. The time goes quickly, and I am very aware that my children will be leaving home soon. I wonder if it will finally feel easy to be a parent when my children go off to school or get their first jobs. Perhaps. Or perhaps it will be the next phase of “different”.



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3 Responses to “When Does Parenting Get Easier?”

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It does get easier–and it doesn’t. My kids are 18 months apart, grown and living on their own in cities far from home. But every little set-back in their job or romance or financial well-being sets my heart to pounding. A friend once told me, “You are only as happy as your unhappiest child.” And that has remained true, even tho my children are now adults.

Thanks. Having teenagers and a toddler helps me to see how things do–and don’t–get easier. However, it reminds me to stop and appreciate each phase of their lives. I now really enjoy the time with my 4 year old because I know her dependence on me (as well as her adoration) is going to pass very quickly. I have to remember to enjoy my teenagers before they move on to your current phase dealing with jobs, finances and romance.

Hi there,
I am really enjoy your blog. As the mother of two kids, aged 6 and 2.5 and also editor of the parenting Website. http://www.supernanny.co.uk, I love reading other parents opinions. I always find that whatever age your children are, other people say that parenting gets harder! I thnk that once you sign up to be a mum or dad, it is amazing, but also hard work, and, as you say, always different.
Please check out our website for what other parents think – on our blogs, forum, and also via loads of advice articles for children of all ages.
Thank you so much
Best wishes,
Sarah, Editor, Supernanny.co.uk
(We also have a US sister site, http://www.supernanny.us.com)

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    Musings on how a disorganized woman with a full time job, three kids and a real need to relax is trying to make life simple.

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