Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Golden Years of Parenting

I've said before and I maintain that I am not a baby person.  Toddlers have always been my jam, so funny, so crazy, but so much work!!  However, once they get past that stage and are school age, it's been pretty amazing.  I've really been reveling in these elementary school years with my oldest four kids.  I have no idea what parenting a teenager is going to look like, and I'm no expert at this mothering gig (that's why God keeps giving me more, hoping I can finally get it together) but here's the lowdown on how the golden elementary school years have been going...

The Good:

There's just so much of it!

~ They are independent (enough) kids.  They can get dressed, eat without help, take a shower, control their bodily fluids, take initiative and responsibility for their own to-do lists re: homework, sports, projects.

~ They have lives outside of ours.  As much as a child will always need their parents, it's so refreshing to see them blossom on their own.

~ They are interesting and able to make great conversation.  They can verbalize their needs and dream about the future and let you know what they're thinking.

~ They are helpful.  They still want to please us and can actually do a lot of things we used to have to do ourselves.  The older they get, the more moaning/groaning we get but overall they're pretty great.

~ They thrive on praise and affection.  When I tell them how appreciative I am of them, they just eat it up.  And then they want to help even more.  It's so sweet!

~ They are not as demanding.  They understand their needs don't have to be met right this very second, and can be reasoned with.

~ They still have so much love and innocence in their hearts.  They are naive in the best ways possible yet worldly enough to get by in the real world.  So they are praying the family rosary, but also watching the newest PG movie we have approved.

The Cons:

~ They are not old enough to drive, but their need to be driven around has increased.  Mom and Dad feel like chauffeurs a lot.

~  Likewise, they are not old enough to stay home alone or babysit the younger ones, but are old enough to want to be part of all.the.things.  So it's a lot of packing everyone up in the car to drop off one kid at practice.

~ They become more opinionated and "of the world" so to speak.  They often compare what other families do versus what we do, and will tell me why that is unfair.  

And I think that's it?!?  What am I forgetting?  These years have been relatively easy to navigate and I'm so thankful for that after having a bunch of babies and toddlers at home for the first few years.  I know there is so much parenting ahead of us, and we look forward to see what it brings (mostly!).  This vocation is wonderfully thrilling, humbling, funny, heartbreaking, and fulfilling.  I always hoped and dreamed for a big family, and even on the hardest days, I remind myself that I am living the dream :)


  1. You are right, the elementary age is great. It is so much easier working too, I don't feel guilty about going to work knowing that they are at school.

  2. This gives me hope. I LOVE these baby years, mostly because I love how it requires us to slow down and stick close to home and find joy in the little things. As much as I'm excited for my kids to learn and grow in school, I dread the hustle and bustle that school life will bring to our family. I know that I'm going to struggle with staying on top of things and being on time and all the driving, etc. Sara is doing more activities this fall and I almost signed her up for a weekly Mass Audubon class and then I didn't because I thought this is probably the last year that we don't have to do anything at all. Gus is still taking morning naps, I need to savor this!

  3. You'll love parenting a teenager. All the pros listed for school-agers above, plus:
    1) They can stay home alone (well, most of them can!)
    2) They can babysit (though I try not to abuse that privilege)
    3) They don't have to be dragged along on all errands
    4) They have some really interesting ideas
    5) They can drive (as long as you allow it - your results will vary by state)
    And trust me, being able to ask your teen to run to the store and pick something up for dinner is amazing : they get to drive (they're happy) they get to help the family (you''re both happy) and you dont have to move ( or you're at home with the screaming toddler, but hey, at least you don't have to bring screaming toddler to the store!)

    And the best thing is that you get to see hints of the amazing adult they're becoming, and hope that yor parenting had something to do with it. All that hard work and those sleepless nights pay off!

    Please don't be afraid of the teenage years - there are real blessings therein!

    1. I work in a school with teenagers, and can sometimes get frustrated by them, but I have loved my kids at every age, so I'm hoping being a teenager won't be too bad! Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Peter is almost 13 and in addition to lots of hair (upper lip and arm pits and I'm assuming other places too I am starting to get a lot of moodiness and crankiness and general bad attitude. I'm hoping this early teen funk is short lived! And he and Sarah are allowed to stay home during the day and early evening when I'm not going to be gone long. Which is great because if I had to drag Peter to Sarah's swim practice the moaning and groaning would not cease! I'm glad your kids are more go with the flow!

  5. Once your kids are old enough to stay home alone or even babysit, then you've really hit the golden age. I don't have any one old enough to drive, but just having them old enough to stay home is amazing.


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