(My title is a quote from Gretchen Rubin. The photo above is from my makeshift daycare)
Dear parents with little kids:
What you’re doing is really hard. And I have perspective: I don’t have to do it anymore! I just had a bizarre trip back in time. Although my kids are 7, 10, and 14, I just spent two weeks at home all day with little kids. (I took over a very hardworking friend’s home daycare- three 1 year olds and 4 year old twins- so she could go on her first vacation in years.) Total time warp.
When my kids were little, I loved it. I loved the physical closeness and intense bond, the humour in a child’s perspective on life, the adoration and total big love. I can remember the feeling of relief in baby who utterly relaxes after latching on and the perfect weight and warmth of a sleeping newborn. I treasure the funny things my toddlers said (I wrote them down!) when they became verbal but had no self-conscious filter. I remember fondly when I was the centre of their little universes and not slightly embarrassing to be seen with. All that stuff is burned on my brain.
This is what I forgot:
childproofing One year olds will try to investigate all your drawers and cupboards. They will take the rubber end off of your door stopper. They will play in the dog water. They will try to put toys in your vents.
babies in winter Snow suits. Strollers in snow. Need I say more?
permanent company You can’t go to the bathroom by yourself. In fact you are never alone.
naptime roulette Will the dog barking wake the baby? Will one baby wake up just when the other has gone to sleep? Will the baby decide that a nap is actually a terrible idea and he’d rather play?
the mess Food on faces, hands, clothes. Runny noses and snot wiped everywhere. My nice sofa (that we would never have purchased if we had little ones still) made it through unscathed only because I covered it with a sheet every morning.
loss of freedom Want to take a shower? Ha. Wait till your partner gets home.
having to ask for help This has always been the hardest for me. I hate not being able to do everything myself. (Did I tell you I was also running the daycare with one hand? Yup. Broken hand, full cast on my left hand.) I had friends helping me with dinner prep, dog walking, and school bus pick-ups and drop-offs.
I experienced all of these challenges for years- but they slowly waned until they were gone. I didn’t really even notice they were gone until last week.
Now? My big kids require lots of emotional energy–homework, friend troubles, and chores!– but not much physical energy. They feed, dress and bathe themselves (and wipe their own bums!) They don’t need too much supervision. They sleep all night and don’t wake up until after I do. They even help out around the house. In fact they’re so great that I don’t miss having babies (and trust me I thought I would!) While I thoroughly enjoyed my last two weeks with the sweet munchkins, I am so happy to be back to my regular old life.
Consider this a note from the future. I remember those long days- but really before you know it they’ll be over. It’s hard now but someday you will look back and remember just the good stuff. Until then, I just want to recognize all the hard work you are doing- raising those babies into grown up people.
“This is it” was the mantra of my early years with little kids.
Or as Gretchen Rubin so wonderfully phrases it: “The days are long but the years are short.”
Where are you in your journey? What is your biggest challenge right now?Post it on my Facebook page, leave a comment on this post, or send me an email.
PS- And of course working with me one-on-one can help you with your parenting challenges, large or small. Find out how to work with me here.
Sarah Rosensweet is a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three big kids (ages 15, 18, and 21). Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to, “We’ve got this!”