Thursday, 22 March 2012

Day 123 - Older kids = easier kids?

As I prised a firelighter out of my 15 month old nephew's tight little grip, I wondered how I'd managed to forget so much about this stage....  I mean it wasn't that long ago - my youngest is 4.  But these kind of memories of toddlerdom seem to have gone a bit hazy.  Maybe I've blocked them out.


My sister has just been staying with her two little boys, both under 3.  Great to have some adult company, but also rather like a mini tornado passing through the house for three days. There was no let up.


Funny though, as only last week I was thinking how fed up I was of people saying it must be easier for me, now that the children are older.   I know they're doing it with the best intentions and I usually nod and mumble, because I'd feel guilty saying anything else.  The kids (4, 7 and 9)  go to school now, they can feed, dress and (sort of) wash themselves.  Why wouldn't it be easier?  But often that's not how it feels.  It feels hard.  Maybe I notice it more because I'm on my own, but friends who aren't have said the same thing. I've done toddlers and babies on my own too. So compared to that, why are things a bit of a struggle now?


Well, there's physical v mental challenge.  
When they're little it's so physically draining. It's non stop, you need eyes in the back of your head, and sleep is a bit of a lottery. 
What I find at the moment is it's mentally tiring.  Don't get me wrong, they are good kids, but they challenge me every single day as I try to get them to do homework, music practice, behave, have a bath...  EVERY little thing has the potential to turn into a long, drawn out battle. They can back me into a corner with nowhere to go.


Then there's the guilt that comes with this.
If your 3 year old lies down in the street and refuses to get up (tues 10am), then it's hell, but usually quite quickly forgotten until the next time (11am - playing dodgems with the chairs in Cafe Nero)  The stress is in the moment - and even if you lose it completely, there's a good chance they won't remember.
Move on a few years and they do remember.  Everything.  And I find I do too.  When I've yelled at one of them it can stay with me for ages. I worry how I've handled it. Guilt creeps in.


The choice issue bugs me as well.  
Obviously there are many things a toddler can't do, so of course you do them.  My kids can do a lot of stuff for themselves now: open curtains, take their books to school, put toys/clothes away, use a bin, pull the chain, LISTEN - they just choose not to.


Being consistent is so important - and it's something I've tried to do, whatever age or stage they're at.  But sticking to your guns is hard if you're the only one laying down the law and they start chipping away. Sometimes when they're having a water fight in the bathroom or trying to wrap the cat in loo roll, I just want to give up and leave them to it.


Also their world is getting bigger as mine appears to be getting smaller.... 
Other people enter their lives who seem to have more sway than me.  If I disagree with something said by a school friend/teacher/football coach, guess who they're more likely believe?  I know it's part of growing up but it can be really annoying.


Looking back now, I do remember thinking that friends with children at school had it easy.  A thought that kept me going? I probably said the same frustrating things to them that people have been saying to me.  On the whole friends used to smile knowingly, and tell me it was just different. 
A way of saying no stage is easy.
  
Anyhow, next stop, teenage-ville.....and that's never had good press.


So maybe whatever stage you're at is the hardest?
  
And if yours range from toddlers to teenagers, then Wow. 



8 comments:

  1. Sounds all very familiar. Different, not easier.... I love "they choose not to" OMG are you in my house???!

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    1. Drives me nuts! Think it's linked to the other thing that drives me nuts - repeating myself over and over again, like a worn out old record. Such a waste of breath!

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  2. I have toddler's through to teens and it is just WOW lol. I find it hard to tell which stage I find hardest because I'm constantly muddeling through them all. I find toddler's exhausting though, my 14 month old and my 3 year old need constant supervision, makes it incredibly hard to get anything done. They make the most mess too. 4-8 yrs I think I'm ok with,then once they get to about 9 I find they become more work again and school work, friends etc become more important. The teenage year's, we've just entered...and I curse phones, ipods and technology. My daughter would live with her face stuck to a screen...if only I would let her ! I think you hit it on the head when you said whatever stage you're at is the hardest because it's the one you're dealing with at that moment in time.
    Oh but I will be glad when I've come through and survived the 6th lot of toddler tantrum year's and the 6th lot of potty training. Phew, I won't know myself lol xx

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  3. I was thinking of you when I wrote that last line! Know I've said it before, but don't know how you do what you do. How do you get a minute to yourself? Just having toddlers in the house again was a reminder of how full on it is - and that was only for a few days. I think I was expecting it to get easier - and although in some ways it has, there are a lot of new challenges that I've found quite hard to deal with, especially on my own I think! Would be nice not to be the only one nagging and telling them off.
    Your youngest two are very close in age to my sister's - she was saying how much she's looking forward to saying bye to nappies - I'm sure it'll feel strange for you when you get through the toddler stage. But then there's all that homework - how on earth do you cope with that?? xx

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  4. Homework is a big one, only way I deal with it is in a very regimented way. They do it the night they get it, and they read every night right after the youngest two go to bed at 7pm (when it's quietest).
    My 12 year old has been revising for test's for a few hours tonight, she's quite self disciplined about it which helps. I just look over her shoulder every so often and check she's not messaging someone instead !
    I'm going to have a small celebration when I say goodbye to my last ever pushchair lol, sad I know but I will feel liberated being able to leave the house with just a wheelchair again :-)

    Doing it on your own though, as you are, that's hard. I was a single mum of 4 for a while, and just no one coming home in the evening to sit down with was tough. The kid's often got the better of me too as I always tried to over compensate for being the only one home with them.

    You always sound like you're doing a wonderful job though, your children are extremely lucky to have you :-) xx

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    1. Thanks Jo, you always lift my spirits - not sure the kids think they're all that lucky! Feel I've been a bit too bossy recently. I need to stop myself getting cross about silly things - think I should take a step back sometimes.
      I am impressed with your homework regime. I'm still waiting for one of mine to start doing homework without me asking (begging) Although think my little girl is going to be a lot keener than the boys - don't know if you find that. xx

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  5. I think it's that, once you've passed a certain stage, looking back The problems of the time seem not so difficult, because - hello! You've learned how to deal with them. At each new stage you're learning again.
    Mind you I have to admit when my sister is round with her gorgeous 2 year old nephew, I am always settle glad I am not at the stage any more.
    I don't miss the younger years but some things were easier - you had more control over them, they generally wore what you got out for them, they were more easily distracted from a bad mood, and you had your daily routine which gave some comfort.
    But I do love the older kid years where you can talk to them about more interesting stuff, and they'll do more on their own.
    But yes - choosing not to. Sigh!

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    1. Having spent those three lovely but hectic days with my sister and her boys, I'd have to agree with you - I don't miss that stage! But I think I found it a little easier to deal with on my own - maybe because I was more in control (strict routine to keep me sane)
      I love the chats I have with the children now, but get so frustrated repeating myself endlessly - I've turned into an old nag! I think I worry about them more too, because school life isn't always easy and sometimes I'm not sure of the best way to help. But there's always going to be something to worry about, isn't there? - just the topic that changes.

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