So, parenting is supposed to get easier as the kids grow up right? Nope, I wouldn’t say so. We tell a new mom to sleep when the baby sleeps and people rally around to give the parents a much needed break. However, when the kids get a bit older and more self sufficient, people assume it has gotten easier for you. By the way, by ‘self-sufficient’ I only mean that they can walk and talk and wipe their own butts and feed themselves. I don’t mean that they will actually get the food themselves or bathe without nagging or do anything they need to some level of assistance. This is why it changes for a parent, from physically exhausting to mentally draining. Yet the mentally draining part can leave a parent exhausted.
We also believe that since the kids are ‘self-reliant’, we should add more things to our plates and end up even more tired. In my case, I started working after being a stay-at-home-mom. Everyone said, oh now that the kids don’t need you, you can go back to work. Well, the kids still need a million things and have activities they need to go to. So, I am juggling a lot more and the only ball I can afford to drop is my ‘Me time’. I can’t rest when they are at school because I’m at work. Then I dash out to be a chauffeur, cook, tutor, referee, nurse, homemaker. There isn’t really any me-time for Mommy without guilt.
When the kids were very young, I felt entitled to Me-time because I took care of the kids all day and deserved a break. Now, because others see your life as easier with older kids, we tend to see it that way too and don’t feel entitled to that break anymore. I used to have my mom watch the kids while I got a massage or went on a movie date. Now I cash in that babysitting time for my doctor’s appointments or when I have one too many things to juggle. Then, I feel bad asking for more babysitting time and guilty for leaving the kids so I no longer make those pampering Me appointments. My husband and I have gone from romantic date nights to lunch dates on days when he works from home. At least we still try to have some couple-time but it’s much more rushed.
Also, the kids now have such busy schedules of their own that you are always planning your life around what they need and where they have to be. Whereas, before we could put them in the stroller and roam around the mall for ourselves, now there isn’t time. They are busy with activities and then need to fit in homework and want to meet with their friends. So in essence, now we are in the stroller and being wheeled around by the kids’ agenda.
Life is busy at every stage and parenting is challenging at every stage. It just evolves. I guess we just need to give ourselves credit for all we do and not feel so guilty for making some Me-time. One day soon I will take my own advice.