My friends and I were talking recently and, as usual, the conversation was 70 per cent about our children, 15 per cent about our husbands, 10 per cent about our careers and five per cent about the freezing cold weather.
We were talking about whether or not parenting gets easier as our kids get older and everyone had a different perspective.
Some felt it was getting harder, as their children had more activities (which means lots of ferrying for us, the parents) and more difficult social situations.
We’ve all heard the phrase “bigger kids, bigger problems.” I think that’s true, especially during the teen years.
Others felt it was about the same level of difficulty. They’d just swapped breastfeeding challenges for school lunch frustrations and naptime crankiness for after-school freak-outs.
But a few of us agreed wholeheartedly that we feel parenting has been much easier these days.
I feel like our kids have been in a sweet spot for a while now, at eight and six years old.
Argh, I hate to even say it because I don’t want to jinx it!
But it’s true. This is a great stage.
They sleep through the night (other than the occasional sleep-walking bout). They can get themselves ready in the mornings. They can go downstairs on their own, make their own breakfast (cereal, toast or nuked pancakes) and watch screens until I get up.
They can fold all three loads of laundry that I dump on the couch. They can cross the street properly and use their manners at a friend’s house even if I’m not there.
They can play card games and board games without throwing a tantrum if they lose and we’re no longer limited to annoying little kid games like Hi Ho Cherry-O. (Shudder.)
I appreciated their independence recently when I came down with a terrible weeklong flu. When my husband was at work or sleeping after his night shift, the kids rushed to fetch me water and Tylenol and cold cloths for my head.
I couldn’t get out of bed at times, but they were fine taking care of themselves and the dog.
“How did I survive this level of sickness?” I kept thinking as I lay there miserably, when the kids were one and three or two and four?
Did I just power through and take care of them anyway?
I popped two more Tylenol for my fever and felt very, very sorry for my former self.
Parenting is undoubtedly going to feel a lot harder when we have two teenagers under our roof.
“Bigger kids, bigger problems” is something I’m already dreading.
In the meantime, I’m going to savour the sweet spot we’re in now: kids who are capable of doing just about everything for themselves and are still (mostly) cheerful and pleasant to be around.
Long may this stage reign!
Heather Laura Clarke is a freelance journalist who married her high school sweetheart. They moved from the city to the country, where they spend their days making messes and memories with their eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. Follow their family’s adventures over at www.HeathersHandmadeLife.com.