When it comes to kids, babies get all the glory. Sure, babies are incredibly cute but they require a ton of work. By contrast, big kids are relatively self-sufficient, while also being sweet, helpful and hilarious. As they grow, I find myself spending less time caring for them and more time enjoying being with them. In the process, I’ve discovered 5 Ways Motherhood is Better with Big Kids.
My sister just had her first child a few weeks ago, which has left me feeling rather wistful about the baby years. While I adore my adorable, sweet little niece, I’m also grateful that, for our family, the baby years are in the rearview. Perhaps I’m biased because postpartum depression robbed me of much of the joy that others experience during the earliest parts of parenting. On the up-side though, it also left me with a heightened desire to appreciate my children as much as I possibly can in their current states. And their current state is AWESOME.
Every day, I stop to marvel at some amazing landmark our family has reached on this incredible journey. Often, its the insignificant things that end up being the most meaningful, so I do my best to appreciate each and every one of them. Here, in no particular order, I give you 5 Ways Motherhood is Better with Big Kids
1. They SLEEP
This was a massive turning point for our family, mainly because as babies our kids didn’t sleep through the night for a very, very long time. I don’t think anyone in our house had a full night of sleep for at least five years. Sleep deprivation nearly broke me and everyone else in our home. For a time, life ground to a near halt because we never knew if we’d get enough sleep to function on any given day. Overnight travel and family vacations were next to impossible. We were too tired to enjoy much of anything. And then, gradually, we weren’t. At some point, everyone started sleeping reliably through the night. Both kids started sleeping past 6:15 am on weekends. They started sleeping well in hotels and at Grandma’s. Sleep (or the lack of it) was no longer the center point of our universe. And the world is so much bigger and brighter because of it.
2. They Need Less Stuff
That first time you head to the park with just a set of house keys and your sunglasses feels absolutely surreal. After years of lugging water bottles, snacks, a picnic blanket, complete wardrobe changes, extra jackets, diapers, wipes, sand toys, sunscreen, and sun hats, all loaded into a stroller the size of a small SUV, walking out of the house unencumbered feels freeing…and odd. All that clutter and tedious, exhausting pre-planning has been replaced with lighthearted spontaneity. Suddenly, we’re able to enjoy wonderful and unexpected adventures at a moment’s notice: kite flying at the park the minute the wind picks up; surprise trips to the ice cream shop 15 minutes before close; weekend waterpark getaways with just a couple of small suitcases.
3. They Love What We Love
Big kids see what their parents are passionate about and want to be a part of it. At our house that means plenty of cooking experiments with mom, afternoons spent drawing with Dad, family sing alongs, long bike rides, mother/daughter mani/pedis, father/son auto show adventures and, this summer we hope to take them golfing. If you have a hobby or a passion, your kids are probably enthusiastic about giving it a shot. I love every second of cooking with them, singing with them and watching them experience some of my greatest pleasures for themselves.
4. They Do Things Their Own Way
From what to wear to what we read and everything in between, my kids have opinions — often completely opposite of my own. While it can be occasionally infuriating to see them strive so fully to do their own thing, recognizing them as individuals with their own point of view is also really amazing. I love to see the clothes they pick out, the books that interest them, the friends they choose. Watching your child develop their own sense of self is one of the greatest gifts a parent can receive.
5. They Cuddle Back
There is no better feeling in the world than that of your baby cuddled in your arms — but its even better when that baby learns to cuddle you back. When they are big enough to reach out and grab you around the neck and squeeze you tight it melts your heart. As they get bigger and stronger, so do their hugs.
The trade off, of course, is that those hugs also become less frequent. I realize that, just as babies turn into big kids, soon enough they’ll turn into teenagers and then grownups. For now though, each day with them is a gift and one I wouldn’t trade for all the babies in the world.