This is a question that I have been contemplating a bit recently. Our beautiful baby number 5 will be our last and when I have mentioned to parents of older children, how I look forward to things becoming a bit easier in the years to come, a number of them have made remarks indicating that this is not the case. They suggest that it actually gets harder as the kids get older!
From where I am at the moment, I just can’t see how that could be. So firstly I would like to ask the question to readers who have older children – do you think that it doesn’t get any easier as the kids get older?
Secondly, I thought that I would note down some of the aspects of parenting a young family that I can find tough some days. I adore all five of my children and love the fun, chaos and the moments of pure joy that a large family brings. But there are days where it just seems like a lot of hard work. This list below isn’t meant to grandstand in any way about how much I do, or anything like that. I am sure most parents of young families will be able to tick of all these things and relate to these areas of family life.
However, my key objective in documenting this, is so that I can look back in 10 years time and make a judgement call myself on what was an easier stage in the parenting cycle. I am beginning to think that there possibly isn’t any “easier” stage in the parenting cycle, it is just that the stages have different requirements. I guess I will find this out in 10 years time!! 🙂
Here are some things that some days I find a little tough:
With the new car seat laws, I have three children who need properly fitted car seats. Due to the set up of our car, all three car seats are in one row, meaning that even the one child that uses a seat belt, isn’t able to do it up themselves because it is too squishy. To run errands where I have to visit a couple of different places, requires placing 3 kids into 3 seats, fastening 3 restraints, then doing this over and over again until we have finished. I find this exhausting, especially when after the second or third time we do this and the baby starts to arch his back, in defiance abut having to go back into the car seat again!
Bubs is crawling and pulling himself up onto everything. If I miss the opportunity to shower before Mr I goes to work, then showering can be a debacle. If I place him in the high chair so he is safe, he gets upset about having to be in there and cries. If I let him roam free, then it is a game of Russian Roulette to see how long it is until he loses his balance and crashes onto the hard tile floor and we have tears.
After School Activities
We have activities 3 out of 5 nights. The majority of the time, I will have a meal prepared for these nights, so I don’t have to start cooking at 5.30pm. But there are times when I have appointments in the morning or I just don’t get around to cooking the meal. This means, the evening can degenerate to something a little like this:
- Arrive home 5.30pm.
- Baby is tired as he was woken up at 3pm to leave for school pick up and cannot be removed from the hip without tears.
- 3 year old is hungry, wants dinner now! and is whining quite loudly to make sure that I understand this.
- Prep child is tired and sensitive, reacting incredibly well to being wound up by her older brothers.
- We eventually sit down to eat at around 6pm with everyone feeling slightly frazzled.
- After bath, there is still reading and words to be completed, baby to be breastfed and stories to be read, before I can bundle them all off to bed.
Although sleeping through the night, our baby is an early riser. He seems to really enjoy waking up when there is a 5 at the front of the clock display! (I have had somewhat of a reprieve since returning from holidays, but the pattern is for him to wake slightly earlier each day, so it is only time before I am up at 5.30am again.) If this is a given, then I should just go to bed earlier and I do know this, but I struggle to get into bed before 10.30pm. Throw in a sick child to the mix, with waking over night and then we have interrupted sleep as well.
Lifting, Carrying, Chasing
I keep reasonably fit, but there are still days when I have been out and about with the kids and it has involved lifting, carrying, chasing the kids, etc and I feel pretty physically exhausted.
I do need to say that as far as sibling harmony goes, my kids get along very well and enjoy each other’s company. But there are still those days when it seems like no one can get along at all! Squabbling over tiny issues and being unable to resolve their own disputes with bombarding me with “she did this” and “he did that” – can really make my head hurt.
There are moments when multiple children need you at the same time and it is impossible to please them all. Dealing with the emotional fall out of a preschooler who has to wait to play with me, while I test the spelling of his older brother or from being told that dad is reading bed time stories not mum, can become wearing at the end of a long day.
Finding Moments of Peace and Quiet
Thankfully once in bed for the night, my kids usually stay there, so by the time the eldest child heads off to bed at 8.30pm there is calm and peace across the house. However it is wonderful to try and have some peace and quiet in the middle of the day to regroup and refresh. To obtain this, the baby and preschooler will need to be asleep at the same time and sometimes this requires all my skills I used formerly as a project manager, to make this happen – but it is completely worth it!
With my little ones, quite often I cannot even go to the toilet for a few minutes without being followed or having some form of chaos erupt in my absence – does that happen to anyone else???
Just to reiterate – I wouldn’t change my situation for the world and I am so very grateful to have 5 healthy and beautiful children whom I love and adore, but there is no denying that it takes hard work to raise a young family. 🙂 The question I want to know the answer to though is does it get easier as they get older?