Ask the readers: When is parenting hard?

Ask the readers: When is parenting hard-toddler bed
My two-year-old has been relatively easy for the past several months.
We haven’t had any major tantrums or patience-testing phases. He’s been sleeping through the night like clockwork. And he has been so patient and compliant even when I would never expect a toddler to be (such as sitting calmly in an over-crowded Costco while waiting in the longest-ever line… sigh). In short—dare I say—we’re in an “easy phase” of parenting!

Throughout my short tenure as a mom, these “easy” periods seem to come and go. Just when I’m thinking, “I’m getting the hang of this!” my toddler comes up with another scheme to change my mind. In the early days, I would see parents of older babies and toddlers who seemed to have everything together and wonder when in the world I would ever get to that point in parenthood.

With two-and-a-half years of parenting, I realize that raising kids gets easier… and it doesn’t. There seems to be a general increase in “easy-ness” over time, but one marked with quick downturns of hardships as well. Below are some of the more trying times in raising my kiddo:

  • Newborn days. The first few months after my baby was born was by far the most difficult period of parenting. Some reasons are obvious: sleep deprivation, the extreme needs of an infant, breastfeeding every two hours. But perhaps the hardest factor was adjusting to parenthood and accepting the difficulties of raising an infant.
  • Worrying about SIDS. My toddler sleeps with a pillow, three blankets, bumpers, a lovey and a stuffed bunny… all piled on top of his face. I assume he’s rebelling against his first year when his crib had absolutely nothing in it because his parents worried relentlessly about SIDS.
  • Feeling like a camel strapped with pounds and pounds of baby stuff. Dropping off the baby to my aunt’s was no easy feat: in addition to a baby in a car seat, I carried my purse, lunch, pump and bottles and the diaper bag. And since it isn’t humanly possible to carry all of the above, I had to lug the car seat into the stroller so I could free my hands to carry everything else. Weekends were only slightly better if only for the fact that my husband was usually with me: going to our parents’ houses easily meant bringing most of the above plus a booster seat and pack-and-play (for the four times that our toddler actually napped somewhere else besides at home).
  • Insanely attached to me and no one else. My toddler went through a phase when he wanted to be with me and no one else. When my husband came home from work, LO wouldn’t want anything to do with him and preferred I do everything for him. Dropping him off at my aunt’s was a struggle, since he would cry and want to run after me while I walked towards the door.
  • Crying hysterically during bath time. Who knew that water could be so scary? Apparently to my toddler, taking a bath warranted a crying fiasco. The boy was scared—his whole body trembled if he even so much as got five inches close to the water, and would cling to us with all his might.
  • Transitioning to a toddler bed. We converted our toddler’s crib into a bed not by choice—he started climbing out of his crib and falling smack on the floor. Transitioning to a toddler bed felt like sleep training all over again (in fact we had to employ the same methods). I remember emotions surfacing once more as I wondered, When does this ever end? Will we always have to sleep on the floor next to his bed every night from now on?
  • Tantrums. I hesitate to list this because there’s no way tantrums are even remotely out of our lives just yet, but yes, tantrums are one of the most emotionally-draining experiences of parenthood to date. And I heard it all comes back in the teen years (yay).

Thankfully the kid has a way of making us love him even as he’s acting like the most illogical, obnoxious and demanding person ever. Yes, he tested our patience and driven us mad, but when the storm calms down, he also makes parenting the most worthwhile and rewarding job.

Your turn: what are some of the most difficult periods of raising a kid for you? Which situations made you realize that parenting is hard? Do you think parenting gets easy?

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13 thoughts on “Ask the readers: When is parenting hard?

  1. For me, the newborn years were the hardest. The lack of sleep, the constant nursing, and an infant that was a little colicky. It got easier once I stopped nursing and could gain a little more independence back. The tantrums now are tough, but at least we are getting lots of sleep. So for me, definitely the newborn stage. I think that’s why I’m so scared to do it again.

  2. I think, for me, the newborn stage through about 18 mos. was easiest (my oldest is about to turn 3). I nursed, so I didn’t have to worry about food. Co-sleep so sleeping wasn’t too disrupted. I wore him a lot (and am doing the same with my 5 mos old) so I was usually hands free. I also am a minimalist when it comes to parenting. I keep a change of clothes for both boys (and sometimes me too) as well as sunscreen, hats, an extra diaper or two, and a few toys for both in my van at all times. Then, when we go somewhere, toddler walks (unless it’ll be a LOT of walking then stroller) and I wear the baby. My diaper bag and purse are one thing and it’s just a roomy purse I wear cross body or one of those drawstring back packs (2 prefolds, 2 cloth wipes, a tiny spray bottle of water, a small powder and maybe an extra cover + wallet, business cards and a few bandaids). I also keep one of those reusable shopping bags that folds down into a teeny tiny key change pouch with me incase I need a bag for who-knows-what. Since I wear, I don’t ever need a pack and play, high chair, booster seat, etc. etc. The wrap doubles as a comfy place to lay him down if I want to and I can tie him up (when they’re sitting on their own) in a chair if he wants that or I do a modified sitting wrap on my lap 🙂
    So, for me this new phase that my oldest is in is hardest. For about the last 6 mos. it’s been mood swings, tantrums, asserting desires (strongly) and adjusting to a lot of new changes in his life. But, I think the hardest is yet to come because retrospectively each phase for me seems easier than the one I’m currently in with him.

  3. I think like you said it comes and goes. Teething can be really hard! I can’t wait for the separation anxiety phase. I feel like a camel right now.

  4. I remember being thrilled when my girlie finally was big enough to sit in a normal car seat. I hated dragging a carrier around + diaper bag, and inevitably another 3 or 4 items. And I loved being able to downsize my diaper bag.

    I never really noticed the coming and going of phases until I read this. It’s true now that I think back. Dare I say we’re currently in an easy phase?!? I may have just sabotaged my weekend. But it’s true. At the moment my 2yr old listens to me and does what I ask to the best of her ability – and that’s HUGE! I know it won’t last, but right now I’m soaking in every bit.

  5. One of the things that I consider to be difficult is weaning. I’m in the process now and it is really hard (I think more for me than my son). He’s been using me a lot as a pacifier due to his major teething issues. We’ve slowly added formula to his day. We originally wanted to give him formula (or my pumped milk) at bedtime (we did try it a couple of nights) then realized we should be taking the daytime breastfeeding out first. So, it’s been a week. When his teeth start bothering him, he immediately runs to me and tries to “get some lovin'”. It’s been very difficult in teaching him not to breastfeed during the day but it is slowly (I mean slowly) working.

  6. Great post! Much of what you say is true for us too, but so far (Mushroom is only one) teething is by far the hardest. Weaning him from breastfeeding wasn’t easy (and I still nurse him once or twice during the night) but I still say teething. On the one hand, I can’t wait for all his teeth to come through but on the other, we need a break in between for all the other good stuff – walking, talking etc.. that I am looking forward to – as is he, I think, judging by his efforts in these areas! I posted about teething on my blog recently and, Oster’s mum – if you’re interested, I am going to post about weaning soon!

    Thanks for visiting my blog earlier this week, glad to have found you!

  7. Your posts always make me feel so good knowing other moms are feeling the exact same way! Think we’ve been through all of these stages except the moving into a toddler bed. Hearing about it now makes me think we might be putting that off for a while! I don’t want to sleep on the floor 😦

  8. The newborn stage was the hardest for me. Once we got past six months everything seemed easier (though there have certainly been challenges since).

  9. The whole first year was the hardest wIth our high need baby. Then she switched gears and went straight into the tantrum stage, showing us what a strong willed little person she can be. It’s a bit easier but still very exhausting.

  10. I’ve got a quick question for you re bath time. We are going through a phase right now where she is completely scared of the water. How did you get him to take his bath? What did the trick? I’d be thankful for any ideas.

    • I started writing a response but realized it was getting a bit lengthy for a comment, so, if you don’t mind, I’ll make this into an “Ask the Readers” post and address is tomorrow. Hopefully other readers can also add their input as well. Stay tuned!

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