Over a year ago I wrote a post that posed the question “Does It Really Get Harder?????“. I was wondering if, once the little kids grew up a bit, things would get easier for me. There were many excellent comments, some saying yes, some saying no, some saying it is just a different “hard” and some saying they were hoping so.
I thought I would come back to this post and update how I am feeling about things. My youngest is now 2, our second youngest is turning 5 this weekend, my daughter is 7, our next son has just turned 10 and our eldest is 12. For me things are easier….for the moment! I am sure things will change, but I wanted to share this time, in a way to offer encouragement for those who have very little ones and are having/thinking about having more!
We only have two who need car seats now which has made access to the car easier. My 12 year old is also a fabulous help at doing up the seatbelt for the 5 year old and buckling up the 2 year old (yes I always check!), so the whole in and out of the car thing has improved.
My 12 and 10 year old can ride their bikes to the local shops and buy bread for me if I need them to or if we are out and need to pick up something, I can drop one or both of at the shop, do a lap and come back and pick them up. I don’t have to find a park and take the little ones out of the car – hoorah! Granted they aren’t always with me to do this, but if I plan it right, they can be around to help me.
The 2 year old is quite keen on showering with me these days, but if I get the trains out in the play area, he and the 5 year old will generally very happily play together for the time it takes me to have a shower. During the school holidays, all five kids were often in the back yard playing together and I had showers without any interruptions 🙂 .
After School Activities
The after school activities are still a struggle some days, but they are in general much easier. The 2 year old has more stamina and isn’t quite as needy at 5pm as he used to be. My 12 year old has a training session straight after school one day a week and he then gets himself home, so I don’t have to do the run around for that. I have some lovely friends who I have arrangements with to share the drop offs and picks ups. For one footy training session, I have to only do it once every three weeks and for dancing it is only every second week. Kate who I share the dancing run with has been such a great help, swapping around nights to help with my commitments over the last couple of months.
I still try to have dinner prepared in advance as often as possible. The homework area has actually started to get harder. My son in year 7 has quite a bit of homework and although I am quite hands off with this, there is still a need for guidance and encouragement(!). My son in year 4 is very organised with his homework, but still requires me to help out with spelling etc. I need to listen to my daughter’s reading as well, so fitting this all in on a night for example when we have swimming lessons, is full on.
What some people have called my 6th baby – my book has been the major source of sleep deprivation over the last year! It wasn’t until our youngest son was about 18 months until he started sleeping past 6am. They all sleep through the night as a rule and over the school holidays, they youngest were sleeping in until after 7am and the older kids until after 8am. If I could just get myself of to bed earlier, I would be getting more sleep.
Lifting, Carrying, Chasing
My toddler is lightening quick and pretty adventurous and very independent around the home. I do need to keep an eye on him and have made some pretty quick dashes to save him, but I have to carry him much less as he likes to walk and do what ever the big kids are doing.
As noted last time our kids do get on quite well, but there is still squabbling. This hasn’t gotten any worse, but the physical side of things has increased slightly. The two bigger boys will come toe to toe often, generally a rough house game gone wrong, but the harder issue for me is the younger two boys. The 2 year old can get a little punchy when things don’t go his way. While the older three kids will use the strategies we have taught them to deal with that, the 5 year old generally retaliates and the fight escalates.
There will always be moments of competing needs in a family of 5 kids, but it is slightly easier to manage it at the moment. For example the preschooler has time with me when the toddler has his afternoon nap as he no longer naps, our eldest son is up later so we have some time to talk then. Our second eldest will generally help me out in the mornings and we talk and work together while the younger ones play and the eldest has already left for school etc.
Finding Moments of Peace and Quiet
As the kids get older the bedtimes are creeping out. Our eldest goes to bed 9pm on school nights, so is around a bit longer. He does however read, do homework keep himself amused and Mr I and myself can still find time to talk on our own. Our 5 year old has two long days of kinder, so when the 2 year old goes down for his afternoon sleep, I have nearly two hours of quiet to myself!
As I am no longer breastfeeding our youngest, I am in the rhythm of going to the gym each morning before everyone rises. Although hard to get out of bed some mornings, the almost hour I have to myself is so revitalising.
Not every individual part is necessarily easier at this stage, but overall it does feel easier. I feel like I have made it through to the other side. I can leave the family for a couple of days and everyone is okay like I did when I went to ABC, I potter quietly inside the house while all 5 kids play happily outside and we can even head overseas for a short trip and not only survive it but thoroughly enjoy it.
What stage is your family at? Are things easier or harder for you than a year ago?