I came across something on social media this week where a new mom was asking some advice about getting things done with a baby in the house. It was interesting reading through the comments from other moms of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers! I went through those stages with all four of my kids, but some of the details are a bit hazy looking back until someone mentions something and I think, “Oh yeah, I’d forgotten about that!”

Back when my “baby” actually was a baby! – Photo by Aaron D. Priest

My kiddos are in the tween and teen years for the most part, and my “baby” is nine years old. The days of littles are definitely behind me now. It’s funny how motherhood hasn’t exactly gotten easier, but the ways that it’s difficult change over time. For example, now that the kids are older, they do their own laundry, help with chores, make their own breakfast and lunch, they even cook dinner some nights! The extra hands helping around the house are definitely appreciated. The physical demands of the early years of parenting have lessened significantly.

The mental and emotional demands have increased through. Guiding high schoolers through their education is a lot more complicated than teaching them to colors and counting in Kindergarten! It’s more time consuming too, even though they largely do their work independently now. Things like hormones and life lessons are coming into play, and that stuff is hard. Trying to help these kids who are somewhere between being kids and adults is complicated, and I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing half of the time. I desperately hope that my mom felt this way too because when she was my age and I was my daughter’s age, I thought she had everything pretty much figured out.

Parenting isn’t all about the challenges though. There are definitely always those, no matter what stage you’re in, but there’s good stuff in every stage too! I’m a bit nostalgic when I see a mom holding a sleeping baby, or snuggling a toddler on her lap while they look at a picture book. There were some great things about the years when I had a house full of littles.

There are great things about a house of teens and tweens too. I can’t tell you how much I love talking to my kids about they books they like, and telling them about the ones I like. Reading the same books and then discussing them is so much fun! Playing long, complicated board games is something we can do now, and there’s nothing I love more than roping them into playing an epic game of Terraforming Mars or Between Two Cities on the weekend. We have deep discussions sometimes. We can work on projects together around the house. We have funny in-jokes now that only our family gets! (My mug declaring, “Whatever, I’m still fabulous,” is one of those jokes!)

None of parenting is easy. Let’s be honest, relationships of any kind aren’t easy because you’re dealing with multiple people, personalities, and points of view. Despite the challenge some days bring, family relationships can be a great source of joy.

There are still days that are so hard, but my mom would probably tell me that that’s pretty much how life is for all of us! If any moms of littles stumble across this post though, I want you to know that no matter how hard it seems now, you’ll get through the hard. It’s OK if you’re not vacuuming the house in heels and pearls every afternoon. Your kids won’t remember that there were stray crumbs under the table, but they will remember that Mom loved them enough to spend time with them. The kids will get older and their “help” around the house will indeed become a big help! Things will change and you’ll no longer have a little one who curls up on your lap to read a story, but there are new experience you can share with your older kids that are precious too. It’s true what they say, “The days are long, but the years are short.” It doesn’t get easier per-se, but you will get more sleep eventually. And on the mornings when you’re tired, your teen might brew enough coffee for both of you to have a cup with breakfast!