A Message to Moms with Babies and Toddlers

Dear moms of young children,

Hang in there! Before I had kids, I would see moms with their babies and hear them talk about all the joy their children had given them. I desperately wanted that joy and set my heart on having kids as soon as possible. But when they arrived, I don't think I noticed "joy." I was way too tired.

Most people only tell you what you want to hear, but I'm going to tell you the truth. Raising small kids is hard work! It takes a toll on your marriage, your identity, your health, everything. Now, maybe, just maybe, you have the best support system and the most doting husband and raising babies was easy for you. I hope that's the case. But if it isn't, I want to offer you a piece of advice that very wise women have shared with me.

Every phase of your life is a season. And every season passes. There are very beautiful parts of the baby days, but they are very physically and mentally exhausting times. I'm hear to tell you, that it gets better. Way better! But in the meantime, stop worrying about being perfect. And stop being angry with your husband. Recognize that you are overworked and he probably is too. Having babies multiplies the workload for both of you. And even if he's not super helpful with the house or kids, he probably feels like he's shouldering more than he can bear.

If he is super helpful with the house/kids, consider yourself lucky, but also consider that he may be doing too much. If your husband works full time and then rushes home and takes over as Mr. Mom so that you can have a break, that's nice but not entirely fair. You both worked all day. He deserves a break just as much as you do, so be sure to give him the breaks he needs as well.

I had my two babies 17 months apart and the first 4 years were pretty crazy. But things started to get better around the time my youngest was 3 to 3 1/2. Let me share with you some of the joys of the next season.

Now that my children are 4 and 5, they can dress themselves, shower/bathe themselves, get a snack if they want one, get themselves water, use the toilet (for a long time actually, lol), wash their own hands, they can play outside by themselves, they can go for long walks and bike rides without being carried/pushed/pulled, and they can play well alone or together. We can go on trips or run errands without running into nap times or wild tantrums. They can clean up after themselves and want
to help.

All of those individually are a godsend for a mom who's been tirelessly doing everything for her children, but it gets better. Do your kids wake up at 5 am? Mine are early risers, and for years I got up with them before the sun was even up. But not anymore! They can read numbers, they can play safely on their own, and I can sleep until 7! I can't tell you how much happier this makes me. It means I can stay up later with my husband and I can last all day without falling into a coma.

Sure there are downsides to the preschool years (fighting, negotiating, sassing), but they are few and are between compared to the benefits. It's a fun age of give and take. Your children will be eager learners who hang on your every word and spit back all that you've taught. They can be trusted to play in the yard and not run into the street. They will prefer to play with other children and you won't know what to do with the extra time.

Chances are you have a home or husband that's been neglected. But there's an even greater chance there's a mom that's been neglected. Take this time to exercise, garden, read, paint your nails or anything you have been putting off when your hands and eyes were busy. Be okay with letting go as they learn to do so many things for themselves and enjoy your new freedom and new more independent relationship with your kids.

I only have young children, so I can't comment on the next phase, but I do know that as long as there is a baby in the house, mom will be very, very busy. No matter what season you are in, enjoy it for the season it is and recognize that things will change soon enough. Don't wish your babies to grow up too quickly, but realize that the sleepless nights and chaos of toddler-hood will pass sooner than you think.

Personally, I am enjoying the easy preschool and early school days. I now have the time to focus on myself, my husband, my children, my home, and my hobbies. I feel like a whole person again, and it's wonderful.

So if you're in the midst of babydom, try to look at it from a bigger perspective. Enjoy it while it lasts, and try your best to keep yourself and your marriage together.



Michelle said...

Thank you Angela! All of us moms needs a little encouragement once in awhile. My children are 2 and 3 years old, and although I love them dearly, some days are just plain HARD! I especially took to heart what you said about husband's needing a break too, well said!

Anonymous said...

Great post Angela. My daughters are 4 and 2 and you are right, it truly gets better. They play together and keep each other busy. So many moms want to be perfect and follow every mommy trend. That truly is a complete self stresser. My husbands gets to golf atleast once a week and returns home a happier man!

Krista said...

That was such a great post. So many Moms think that they are the only ones that don't enjoy Mommy-hood all the time, so I freely tell all my Mommy friends that sometimes it is just plain exhausting!

I also wanted to add that I am in the next "season" as my girls are now 7 and 9, and it gets even better! We can now do activities together that I enjoyed pre-baby such as skiing, bike-riding (in the street!), snowshoeing, and rock climbing. AND, they still like to be with me! We will see how the teen years go!

LisaBob said...

Wow, I so needed to read this today! I just had my third baby (other two are 4 and 2) and I feel so overwhelmed! My first two were fairly easy babies, but this one is giving me a run for my money!! Thank you for reminding me that this is just a phase and it will get better.

SocialStudiesSoubrette said...

Oh my gosh I think you must have been writing this for me! I have a four month old and I am just plain exhausted. My wonderful husband does come home and become Mr. Mom but he is burnt out as well. We both walk around in a coma all the time. Thanks for the glimmer of hope. I really needed it.


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