When does parenting (young kids) get easier?
My two girls are 21 months apart. We chose to have them close in age because we thought it would give them a strong sibling bond, and then we’d have them “out of the house” around the same time. Since one kid was fantastic, I figured a second kid would be double-ly fantastic. I was wrong. Two kids was much harder than I had anticipated.
Often when I am out in public with my two girls, their blonde hair, blue eyes and cheesy grins turn them into empty-nester magnets. I’m always happy to converse with these women and hear their stories, how many kids, how close in age, who now has grand-kids, etc. In my struggles to raise two, I began searching for some survival tips by asking these seasoned moms, my number one question:
“So, when does it get easier?”
They laugh. They keep laughing as they give a [dismissing] wave goodbye, like I told a joke so great that there’s nothing more to say and the conversation is over. Once instead of laughing, a woman completely froze like a deer in headlights. She had a terrible poker face. I could see her mind churning behind her terrified eyes, “Do I lie? What is this girl talking about? Easier?!” Then another mom crushed my hopes and dreams with “It doesn’t. THIS, right now, (2yr old and 4 mo old) is the easiest it’s ever going to get.”
“No way,” I thought, “It can’t be, I’m not going to make it if THIS is the piece-of-cake portion of parenting.”
Here’s the thing I learned about parenting: It’s impossible to compare. Every child is different, and so is every parent, and every aspect of their lives, (and their memories), are different. Some parents love the pregnancy stage, the newborn stage, the walking stage, elementary school, middle school, high school, grandkids stage, you get the point. You can sit and speculate before you have kids which stage you’re going to love most but don’t beat yourself up if you turn out to really like the stage farthest away from what you thought, and if you don’t love every second.
If you feel like you’re hanging by the thread and every time someone goes on and on about how much they miss the baby stage, you wonder if you’re missing your soul for wanting it to end, then here’s a more uplifting answer:
YES. Parenting does get easier. My experience is limited, as my two kids are now 15 months, and 3 years, but even in this short time it’s gotten easier and I’ll continue to update the “landmark” stages for me that helped.
Parenting gets easier when you finally adjust to and heal enough that breastfeeding no longer makes you wince in pain or takes a frustrating 30 minutes just to latch.
Parenting gets easier when baby can sit up on their own and you can keep passing them new toys to touch and taste.
Parenting gets easier when baby can roll and/or crawl because now they can get to what they want instead of crying in frustration. (Then it gets easier when you install those first few babygates!)
Parenting gets easier when baby can snack on finger foods. Ah so nice to buy a few minutes with a teething cookie or baby puffs!
Parenting gets easier when baby sleeps more, so you finally get to sleep (a little) more too! (If there is one thing kids have taught me, its the direct correlation between hours of sleep and my mood!)
Parenting gets easier when you get a solid nap routine down so you can have a moment to decompress (or catch up on laundry).
Parenting gets easier when they can walk, because now you only have to carry an overstuffed diaper bag, not an over stuffed diaper bag AND a weight gaining baby (who often snoozed in a carseat while you kindly asked your arm to not fall out of the socket before reaching the store).
Parenting gets easier when they can point and then again when they can talk. LOVE this stage because temper tantrums dramatically dropped since they could now show you and/or verbalize with real words (and not high pitched screams) what they want. (With our first we taught her a few basic sign language commands like “eat” and “more” which really helped too…our second still prefers the high pitched screams).
Parenting gets easier when one is out of diapers. This one is a given I know, but you can’t fully appreciate just how amazing and helpful this day really is, until you get there.
Parenting gets easier when they can feed themselves. Granted in my house this was traded for the extremely picky eater…not sure which I prefer.. (Update: that got easier too).
Parenting gets easier when siblings begin to play together. You’ll get snippets of this along the way. Older siblings have a knack for captivating their younger siblings attention and replacing cries with smiles even in the first few weeks. But when they really sit down and play together you’ll be so awe struck you’ll capitalize on the moment not to be productive, but to take pictures, videos, drag your spouse over to see, and update your Facebook with the status THIS.IS.HAPPENING!!!
The last one is one I have witnessed first-hand and one that a stranger told me. They were one of two people to ever say something encouraging. The other one said parenting got easier when they no longer had to juggle day-cares and babysitters.
It truely does continue to get easier…month by month. Apparently parenting young kids gained so much ease for me that I felt compelled to have a THIRD child. AFTER telling everyone we were done, AFTER being so certain that we were that we got rid of ALL baby items. When my oldest was 4 1/2 and my youngest almost 3, we welcomed a baby boy to our family. In some ways going from 2 to 3 was easier than going from 1 to 2 (will make a post elaborating on that in the future!). But, not so fast, because here I am, reading my own words for assurance and comfort, that it will once again get easier. Plus, now I have some new ones to add…
Parenting gets easier when you no longer need swim diapers (Sanity saving hint: I am ALL for cloth diapers…but don’t do it with swim diapers…go the disposable route with those…trying to get a diaper filled with poop off a wet kid in the public bathroom, with another toddler in tow…that’s not a skill set you need to say you have in life).
Parenting gets easier when you can leave the house without a giant diaper bag (but to be clear, still leave an extra outfit and pack of wipes in the car…ask me how I know….)
Parenting gets easier when they can put their own socks on….then again when they can do so in under 20 minutes without a meltdown. (Sanity saving hint: pick your battles and give up any hope for matching socks).
Parenting gets easier when they can put on their own shoes (Sanity saving hint: buy slip-on boots for the winter and slip-on Crocs for the summer).
Parenting gets easier when your kid can be trusted to exit the car and NOT bolt away (>>you don’t realize how elevated your cortisol levels constantly were, until you get to this stage<<).
Parenting gets easier when they can buckle themselves into the car. Something about just being able to GET-IN-THE-CAR is so nice…
Parenting gets easier when they can UNbuckle themselves from the car….we’re only part-way there on this one, but even them just being able to get one bucket, and help with the second, will be more soothing than you realize.
Parenting gets easier when they can get their own snacks (Sanity saving hint: Only keep healthy options for snacks so you don’t lose your mind when they stuff their face with carrots 5 minutes before dinner). See ‘#5: Independent Choices’ in this post about giving the kids an “all-access snack section” in the fridge or cabinet. This will save you from the “Hey, now that you’ve finally sat down…I need one more thing”.
Parenting gets easier when they can turn the TV on themselves AND navigate Netflix. Yup, I said it. I try my best to limit the kids TV time to just the weekend (honestly!) but let me tell you…them being able to get up and turn the TV on Saturday/Sunday morning WITHOUT waking you up….it’s glorious….see previous bullet about accessible snacks for even more minutes of sleep!
Parenting gets easier when you embrace the mini-van….Oh man…that hurt to type. I debated whether or not to even add this bullet for fear that it would cause me to lose all credibility. I was NEVER going to own a mini-van…so much so that I’ll have a future post all about this fact. I even made 3 carseats fit successfully in my old Jeep…but then I finally caved…I have to tell you, those cars are MADE FOR KIDS. Everything about them is made with messy, fussy, kids in mind. I promise you, I wouldn’t admit how much I love my mini-van, if it didn’t make a world of difference in taking my kids anywhere-short and long car rides. There I said it.
How about you? When do you feel like things got a little easier with your kid(s)?
You May Also Like…
Hi there! I’m Kaley, prevailing parent and wife, but also just me; stubborn lover of DIY everything, outdoors, and chocolate. Read more about myself and my family under the “Parenting” > “About My Family” tabs.