Nine Reasons Why Having a Toddler is Easier than Having Older Kids

There’s no denying that the baby and toddler years are hard. The physical exhaustion, the constantly being covered in someone else’s body fluids sometimes outweight the marvel of having created a child. The neediness, supreme dependence, the constant need for the child to be held, the lack of lie ins, the sweet potato encrusted everything in your house fog the joy.
I see mums around town now with their baby and toddler in a double buggy, me 5 years ago and rather than feel nostalgic for it I am thankful that this challenging time has passed. Mostly.

Mother’s Day hugs

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My smallest is “almost four” (only 2 months to go), my eldest eight and  a half.  My three children can dress and feed themselves. They can pretty much do all their own toilet requirements too, bar the odd holler from the downstairs loo for wiping help. Things are easier on so many levels. We rarely need to bring the buggy out, everyone can get their own coats on and do their own seatbelts in the car (sometimes with the assistance of a sibling).
Yet, as my eldest approaches nine, I feel that my parenting is challenged more than ever.  Sorry, parents of young kids, this isn’t really the light at the end of the tunnel that you were hoping from.
Yes, there are wonderful bits where children sleep in, or amuse each other nicely. There still are broken sleeps, (sometime more than not) and occasional “accidents” in the toilet department. It’s unusual (not unimaginable) to find weetabix in anyone’s hair and teething is a historical event around these parts. We can go to restaurants without too much fuss or fear of being asked to leave, and generally we are a bit more presentable.
But there are things that make parenting school-aged kids just as, if not more, difficult than babies or toddlers. Babies and toddlers need care as opposed to parenting. It’s easier to provide it, they need cuddles and nourishment, and some stimulation (but not so much that it upsets their sleep). The care kids needs as they grow becomes much more complex, both on an emotional and on a practical level.

  1. Homework:  When your first child starts school you are ready for it. Sitting and reading, singing the jollyphonics songs with gusto. Then another joins the homework table and the once not awful task becomes impossible. You plead with your child to write the letter, you try to help make up sentences that start with the words required, you vow to refresh your Irish and to petition the school not to provide tin whistles to Junior Infants in future. Make no mistake, parents hate homework even more than children do.
  2. After school activities: You want your kids not to miss out on anything so you hair around from music lessons to swimming and spend more time in GAA grounds than you ever did in your own playing career. September is calendar month where you arrange schedules to avoid the necessity to enrol in bilocation classes. Which child’s match is more important, you decide, because it’s only a matter of time before fixtures clash.
  3. Birthday parties: Your weekend is not your own. It will be spent ferrying your children from soft play centre to adventure zone with cards bearing cash and once a year thanking people for coming to the soft play centre/adventure zone and for bringing the cash.
  4. Not getting invited to birthday parties: You’ll take it all back when your little one is sad that they think they were the only person not invited to a party of a friend in their class. Or better still
  5. Having to stay up to date with current fads: My kids think I am “so lame” if I don’t know who the latest song they like on the radio is, but none of them are by bands. They’re all by someone featuring someone else and all the someone’s sound similar. Toddlers tend to like their snack providers without too much challenge.
  6.  Peer pressure: According to my sons (and contrary to the school healthy lunch policy)  everyone else brings Muller Corners, Coke and chocolate for lunch to school.
  7. Backchat: Hell hath no fury like an eight year old whose parents are doing hugely embarrassing things in public. Like talking to each other and saying his name.
  8. The note to meet Teacher: Did your child hit another or have they been talent spotted by NASA? You’ll jump from one conclusion to the other before that meeting.
  9.  The helpless feeling of not being able to fix things when they are having problems. This is the one that overshadows everything. They have a whole life now outside of the time that they spend with you, whereas you know your toddler’s entire social circle. When they have a problem it’s not as simply as rubbing their backs or changing their underwear. You have to help your mini-adult learn coping skills beyond that which you are equipped with yourself.  It’s rewarding when they make progress and you see them maturing, but this is the only time that I wish I was back pushing my Phil and Ted up the hill.

Yes, they grow up, and the easy stuff gets easier. But the hard stuff just gets harder.

Kids, keeping us on our toes since they day they were born.

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4 Comments

  1. Yes to all of this. That’s a great post Sinead.

  2. I couldn’t agree more! I didn’t think being a parent was going to be that hard!!
    I don’t remember my single mother to have to go through what we are going through.
    My sister and I had that conversation just last week. It seems that parenting back then was easier.
    All I could every wish for my son is to be happy and be himself.

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