We all long for that magical age when parenting gets noticeably easier.
Is it the day after the baby sleeps through the night for a week straight? Or the 17th of June when the terrible twos suddenly end and walking through the supermarket isn’t the proverbial nightmare? Is it the first day of Junior Infants or the last day of 6th Class? Is it when bouncy castles no longer signal a birthday party, when they ask to taste the salmon on your plate, broadening their palate, or when they tuck themselves in at night? When does parenting get easier?
If you’ve clicked on this article to find an answer, I fear I may have led you astray because, in truth, there is no definitive age, time, or moment when parenting appears to become calmer, even leisurely.
The question of when parenting gets easier is like the holy grail of parenting problems. An answer is based on your child or children, your family dynamic, societal and economic concerns, and how you parent.
There is no denying that the early years are difficult. Parenthood sends you into a proverbial flux with its teething challenges, years of eating only white foods, incredibly public temper tantrums, and all those broken or sleepless nights. The pre-teen years aren’t all that easier either as kids learn to navigate school and friendships, and the teen years are a whole new ball game.
But, oddly, parenting shifts. It may not get easier, but it will change. And that change can lighten loads and burdens in its own way.
In The Practical Sense
Not having to fetch drinks, help pull the school socks on, tie shoelaces, or button up coats are practical ways to make parenting easier. They are small but compelling shifts that mean your child is becoming more independent and capable of looking after themselves. When this happens, and it’s a gradual shift, parenting can seem to get a little easier.
In The Emotional Sense
Okay, so kids and emotions are usually quite heightened, but as they get older, they learn to regulate their emotions. The wobblers over bedtime, the eternal crying when something goes wrong, and the desperation when the mashed potato touches off the beans become memories as kids learn how to balance their big emotions.
In The Logical Sense
And perhaps the best shift of all that makes parenting feel much easier is when kids begin to think with their heads and not their feet or stomachs! Being able to discuss a situation with a child and help them through a difficult experience using conversation and logical thought is a powerful parental shift.
So while parenting may not suddenly get easier, it will certainly change. One parent may love the early years, while another prefers the teenage years. Whatever is easier for you may not be easier for your neighbour. When it comes to parenting, make it work for you.