A week or so ago, my husband and I were strolling around the mall. All of sudden we see a little boy – probably no older than two years old – running out of a store. Cute little blonde thing. Cute little fast blonde thing, I should say! He started running down the hall and within seconds we see mom booking out of the store to chase him down the hall. As mom caught up to her son with a sweaty brow, I imagined the “mommy shamers” having a field day. My personal reaction was to chuckle and think “Yep. Been there!” Solidarity, mama.
The little boy was too adorable! Yet, I can honestly say that I do not miss those days. As my children are 13 and 10, I am far removed from the baby/toddler stages. Although the statement “bigger kids, bigger problems” is true enough – the more time goes on, the more I realize that I’m at peace with it. My son is heading to high school in the fall and my daughter is heading into her last year in elementary school. It’s still somewhat surreal that I’m an older mom. I’m not necessary speaking of my own age, although that is a factor, but of the fact that my children are not babies anymore.
For all of you that are dreading the inevitable loss of the baby days, there are certainly some positive reasons to see them pass. So cute, so yummy, so squishy, but….here are some reasons why I enjoy parenting “older” children. Trust me moms! There’s much to look forward to:
Use Your Words
The ability to have conversations with my kids is a reality. Granted as they get deeper into their teenage years, the grunting becomes more prevalent, but overall they can use words! This is truly helpful in taking the guesswork out of the situation. With babies and toddlers it’s like a game of charades that I never, ever won. I loved when people said, “Can’t you read their cries?” Me: “Um no, I can’t. What’s wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? Can you read ‘my cries’ right now?”
The cost of baby goods is astronomical! Cribs, diapers, wipes, formula, high chairs, bouncers, swings, bottles, diaper creams, pacifiers, crib sheets, car seats, baby monitors, strollers, breastfeeding supplies, etc. This isn’t even close to encompassing everything. Oh! And did I mention the batteries? Sometimes I walk by the baby aisles in Target with a little too much glee!
Timing is Everything
How many times have you been almost ready to leave the house on time – not only to have to change a diaper last minute? Or the times when you’re out and about and have to change a diaper in a teeny bathroom (some even without a changing table!). We’ve all been there, and obviously it’s what we’ve signed up for – but it’s quite lovely not having to change a diaper at the least opportune times or places.
If you have even two exersaucer-type activity sets, there’s a good chance your house has already been overtaken by baby toys! Baby toys can take up so much space – not to mention, they don’t always match with your décor. Most of the time, a baby/toddler gets bored with a toy in a hot minute and they’re on to something else – which is completely normal due to sensory, development and exploration. Though, this results in your home resembling a colorful pig sty in a hot minute as well. As kids get older, the toys get smaller, hold attention longer, and are easier to store.
My kids are still growing, however compared to the growth of babies, it’s nothing! With babies and toddlers, the outgrowing of clothing is enough to make you temporarily insane. You are constantly purchasing new clothes! Often you’ll have a piece of clothing that your baby will only wear once before it’s too small. There will be outfits that you “save” for a special occasion. Unfortunately, once that occasion arrives, the outfit is too small. On a related note, older children do not typically need to be changed 25 times a day. Rarely do we have to be concerned about food, major dirt, or bodily functions on their clothing.
By no means does this apply to all tasks and responsibilities, but big kids can do a lot independently. While they may need constant reminders to bathe or shower (and actually clean themselves in the bath or shower), they do this solo. They can feed themselves and even eat the same food as the rest of the family. There’s no need to cut up food into itty bitty pieces. My husband and I have even been reminded what a hot meal tastes like – and it’s pretty awesome. They can choose their own clothing in the morning – sometimes they emerge from their bedrooms with interesting choices, which offers independence, as well as gives you a sense of their style. Older kids can put themselves in the car and fasten their own seat belts. Even something as simple as applying sunscreen gets easier (this is an enormous win!).
You no longer have to make every single, itty-bitty decision. Sometimes they need be guided to make good choices, but older children can/will make decisions that they couldn’t when they were younger.
Becoming Melissa Again
As my children get older, there are certain shifts that enable “me” to be “me” again. You regain your sense of self. I’m allowed to sit in more than 30 second stints. Yes, I still hear “mom” often throughout the day, but I’ll admit there is some downtime with older children (at least while you are home). The freedom to leave the house without a suitcase “aka” diaper bag. No more formula, bottles, snacks or jars of food to drag along. It’s liberating, to say the least! There is less angst about milestones. With babies and toddlers, there is constant concern about development. The days of attending birthday parties and play dates are behind me…drop-off! I can run a quick errand with the kids without being concerned about a tantrum. In addition, sometimes I can even run said errand by my lonesome. And we’re allowed to eat in restaurants again without feeling like everyone is watching us, waiting for us to leave or hoping they are sitting far away from us!
See ladies? The days of realizing that you’re watching and singing along with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on television – while your kid has been napping – are in sight! All kidding aside, I know it’s a bittersweet feeling – but there’s amazingness coming your way!
Now, I’m not saying the stages you’re heading to are easy – teenage drama, high school woes, college applications, etc… There is lots to keep me on my toes, but learning and seeing who your kids are becoming is the most priceless thing in the world.
And when your children finally transition from watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to watching Andi Mack, please know that it’s perfectly acceptable to continue watching, even if the children have since exited the room. It’s a pretty good show.