My younger brother has 2 kids.
One aged 9 and one aged 5.
I sometimes have a chat with him about what it’s like being a parent when your kids start to grow up.
A few months ago I asked the question…
“Does it get any easier?”
His response was..
“No, it gets harder”
I’m sure he was joking to some degree, but it got me thinking…
I personally have already started to forget the first 6 months just after Mia was born.
The sleepless nights. The crying. The constant fatigue.
This must be human nature, which is why some parents have a second or third child.
But from about 18 months until 2 and a half, Mia has had some awful tantrums, sometimes multiple times a day and it can be exhausting.
It’s like one difficult stage goes, and it’s replaced by another 🙂
It’s very easy to become overwhelmed with parenting, but it would be nice to know if there is at least some light at the end of the tunnel.
Reasons Why Parenting Gets Easier
Parents of young children are often relieved to hear from veteran parents that parenting does, in fact, get a lot easier as children get older.
This is because as children grow up, they need a lot less help from parents and can do certain tasks on their own.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that every child will instantly become easier to parent at a certain age, but for the most part, parents agree that six is the magic number.
Once children hit the magic age of six, they are generally enrolled in a full-day, if not half-day kindergarten program. This alone frees up a lot of time for parents to get chores done around the house without having to worry about taking care of a young child.
While school helps, six-year-olds are easier in other ways, as well. They are potty-trained, able to get themselves a snack, and can generally dress themselves without a lot of problems. This means that parents don’t have to spend as much time helping with these little tasks each day.
Additionally, kindergarteners can tie their shoes, brush their teeth, and can even help pick out and pack their lunch for the day. Some parents would argue that having this additional help in the kitchen can easily backfire, but any job that a child can do frees up some time for the parents.
At this point in time children are sleeping through the night, not going through multiple loads of laundry a day, and are finally able to communicate without crying. This clear communication makes it much easier for parents to learn what is bothering their child.
Because children this age are slowly learning how to reason, parents will find that they can include their child in more conversations and allow them to make some decisions around the home.
Six-year-olds are also much better at controlling their emotions, although they aren’t perfect.
At this age they learn how to step back from a problem and approach it calmly, which reduces the stress and tension that some families feel with toddlers.
Reasons Why Parenting Gets Harder
Every stage of raising children has its ups and downs, but that doesn’t mean that it gets easier to parent as children get older. That simply means that the challenges that parents face change on a daily basis.
As the parent of an infant, the most difficult task is trying to get enough sleep while feeding and changing the baby.
It can be really wearing for parents to get up at all hours during the night to take care of their baby, which can result in over-tired parents who don’t feel like they have energy or ambition during the day.
These parents look forward to their children being toddlers because they think that parenting will get easier.
For many parents, however, it doesn’t, as toddlers bring with them a whole new host of problems and challenges that need to be addressed.
While toddlers sleep during the night, they now are learning to potty train and to express themselves with their favorite word – “no.” While parents want their children to be independent, no parent wants their child to argue with them about every decision.
As toddlers grow into school children they no longer need help with daily tasks, but now their emotions play a huge role in their relationships with others. School kids struggle with learning their boundaries and how to interact with others in a healthy way, and parents have to guide them.
Interpersonal relationships only get more and more difficult for parents and children to navigate as the child grows up. While many parents look forward to getting out of the infant stage, every stage a child goes through has its own difficulties.
Even older children who are pre-teens and teenagers are difficult to parent. The challenges are very different from parenting an infant or a toddler, but they are still there.
Parents need to learn how to balance supporting their teenager while at the same time setting high expectations for them to meet. It’s also important for them to learn how to support their children without hovering, being helicopter parents, or shielding them from the harder challenges of life.
Knowing this, it’s easy to see why parenting never gets easier. The challenges vary and differ as children grow up, but they are always there and always on a parent’s mind.
Unfortunately, it looks like this question is not so easy to answer.
The situation will be different for all parents. For some, teenage years will be easier, and for others, the first few years of school.
In my opinion, I think things can (generally) be summarized like this..
The first few years are the most physically demanding i.e lack of sleep, lack of free time, fatigue.
The older years are the most emotionally demanding i. stress & worry – school, university, child’s wellbeing etc.
Which is easier?
Too early for me to say right now.
Ask me in about 18-20 years time!
What’s the hardest thing about being a parent?
Being a parent involves much more than simply meeting the needs of a child. It involves supporting and challenging the child to help them grow without stifling them. Parents often find that the most difficult part of parenting is understanding this balance and growing and changing with their children.
When do children become more fun to spend time with?
While there are a lot of parents who love having an infant, most people can agree that around age five or six is when children really get fun. This is when a child is able to easily communicate and is interested in the world around them.
Because of this interest, parents can explore the world with their child and enjoy their interests, while also being able to freely communicate.
How can a parent make parenting easier?
There are sometimes when every day of parenting feels like a battle that must be won, but it can be easier. Setting reasonable expectations for children based on their age and their abilities will help parents enjoy their children and have an easier time parenting.
Parents can also give their children more responsibility when they show that they are able to handle it. This is especially important when there is more than one child, as the older child can handle certain jobs on their own.
What age is the hardest to parent?
All stages have their challenges, whether you have a baby, toddler or teenager. However, out of a survey of 2000 mums conducted at Arizona State University, the majority seem less happy as a parent if their children was between 12-14 years of age.
Graham runs the place around here. He likes making a “little noise” about all things to do with tennis and parenting. Check out his about page to learn more.