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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