The Magical Age When Parenting Gets Easier

I’ve asked myself countless times over my 15 years of parenting, “When the bleep is this going to get easier?” Three kids, each four years apart, has meant a near-constant stream of neediness of some sort or another since the birth of my first child. Of course, that stream is flanked with the flowers of joy and wonderment that go along with those early years, so it hasn’t all been bad. In fact, in many ways, the baby/toddler/preschool years have been my favorites.

But holy moly, those years are tough. The sleep deprivation to start off with, then the crying and carseats and diapers and nap schedules and clinginess and messes and “I no wannas” and getting-into-things, and it just feels like it’s never going to end.

Then one by one, each of those things drops off of your daily (or hourly) to do list. Kids start sleeping better, eventually. They potty train, eventually. They stop napping. They get themselves dressed. They move into booster seats.

It takes forever, but before you know it (oh, that tricky time business) your kids are remarkably self-sufficient. And when that happens with your last kid, you realize that parenting actually DOES get easier. It’s still hard in emotional ways, but logistically, there is a definitive shift at some point.

For me, that shift occurred when our youngest child turned six. That was the magical age when parenting got significantly easier, at least in the practical sense. I no longer had to get anyone snacks unless I wanted to. I no longer had to keep a close eye on any of them to make sure they weren’t going to run out into the street. I no longer had to buckle anyone in the car. I no longer had to wipe anyone’s poopy butt.

Of course, some of those things happened earlier, and there was a gradual transition through ages four and five. But there was something about six that signaled a whole new era for us. For me, really. My husband is phenomenal, but a lot of the work in those early years were mom-heavy. And the freedom from those things that I loved—nursing, singing lullabies, carrying my babies, teaching my toddlers and preschoolers—feels lighter than I ever anticipated. I thought I would miss those adorable ages, but I don’t really. I lived that era, and lived it fully. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. I’m ready for this new stage.

They say that parenting doesn’t get easier, it just gets hard in different ways, and I think that’s true. But for me, getting a respite from the relentless needs of the pre-school-age crowd really does feel like having a weight lifted. So if you’re deep in the trenches of the early years, know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Age six, I’m telling you. It’s magical.

The Magical Age When Parenting Gets Easier

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

Comments 18

  1. Rachel

    Six!? I have a 20-month-old, I don’t know if I can handle another 4+ years!!! But I guess I have no choice. I’ve heard around 4 gets easier too since they can communicate their wants and needs better.

  2. Sarah Hundle

    Mom of a 9 , 5, and 18 months. Yes the older they get many things get easier! Although there are moments things get emotionally difficult. With older kids you have time, energy, brain space to think about something more than sheer survival.

  3. Sad

    I needed this today 🙁
    Just cleaned up two slimey vomits

    I have a 3 and 1 year old and a dog who barks shrilly when you are tired

    I get scared when parents of teenagers tell you it gets harder! What a cruel thing to say

    According to this article I have another 4 years of hard, snotty, feet kicking me and shoes treading on my knuckles, lifting and pushing,feeling physically depleted from the physical labour and being whinged at

    1. Rachel @ Money Hacking Mama

      OMG! I know I’ve heard parents with teenagers say it’s harder and I want to cry when I hear that! I’m thinking it’s probably a mental “hard” whereas when they’re little it’s a physical and exhausted all the time “hard”.

  4. Joe

    As a dad of 3 (10,5,2) who spends a lot of time raising his boys along with a mom who works nights, this was cathartic. 5 isn’t quite independent and can occassionally revert to toddler-like behavior. 2 is a nightmare and needs CONSTANT attention and monitoring. Hang in there all!

  5. Janae McKague

    Thank you so much. I really needed this today. I have a 4 year old, 2.5 year old, and an 18mo old. I feel like a poopy diaper, snack getting, toy picking up, snot wiping, tantrum calming conveyer belt and was wondering if it would ever let up. This honestly encouraged me.

  6. Tired mom

    I can’t wait for the 6 year mark, I have a 4 year old, 3 year old and 11 month old and feel like everyday I’m barely surviving and scraping by… sometimes I feel like a caught helpless fly in a spiderweb with 3 hungry vicious spiders inching towards me at the same time. Glad to know it does get easier

  7. Lamora

    I’m in the trenches with three kids ages 4, 2, and 4 months. I always suspected there may come a day when there is more freedom, but never heard it confirmed. Thank you! Now I have hope! 🙂

  8. Mary Baardse

    For me, the life changer was when I could leave them home alone, even for a little while. Going shopping alone was amazing. Nice article Annie. As always, you are spot on!

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