Four. Apparently, four is the not-so-magic number. A recent UK study found the parents of 4 year-olds were the most unhappy and stressed of all. Really?
We suspect this was a survey of parents with 4 year-olds, because if you were to ask any parent which age they found the most difficult with their children, 9 times out of 10 they’d say the age that they are going through right now. Because in the eye of the hurricane, sometimes all you can see is darkness.
The good news is that although all storms eventually pass, every age has its ups and downs.
I have taken the liberty of sharing a few ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of each of the stages below.
INFANTS – 0-2 years
Falling in love
Nothing can prepare you for the heart explosion that only a new parent gets to feel. That first smile, the pure pride you feel when they learn to roll over. Every first, is just, well, magic.
The good news is that at first, they can’t go far. In fact, for a good six months you know that you can put your little person down virtually anywhere and when you come back, they’ll still be there. Also to note, at this point in time, you also don’t need to elevate any of your breakables.
They are hilarious
Seriously, little kids are funny and will bring so much unbridled joy to your world. They will amaze themselves and you, every..single…day.
Newborns are delicious but so damn tiring. I don’t care who you are, what you do, nothing - and I mean NOTHING - can prepare you for the sleep deprivation and ensuing exhaustion that comes with a newborn.
You or someone you love is always sticky
Who knows what that substance is on the bottom of your handbag or on the passenger seat window in the station wagon? Don’t question it, and please don’t try and play detective by tasting it. Just accept that sticky, unidentifiable substances will be a part of your world during these years.
You become a human pack horse
Babies and young children need a lot of stuff to get through their day. Wipes, bottles, nappies, bibs, multiple changes of clothes, baby food, change mats, toys, swings, the list goes on. You will get used to this but there will also be a faint flicker in the back of your mind when you remember being able to visit a friend’s house without having to pack a virtual amusement park in your boot to do so.
TODDLERS/PRESCHOOLERS – 2-5 years
Somewhere between 1-3, depending on your child, they will start to say words and then, coherent sentences which is great as it eliminates the need to play charades every time they want to do something.
Less time spent in the baby aisle
They will stop needing nappies (eventually) and will move from a cot to a real bed. This will mean you will stop leaving the house with a nappy bag larger than Bagdhad each time you have to run to the shops for a bottle of milk.
More time to yourself
Also, towards the end of this stage, your child will start to go to preschool, giving you some well earned time to yourself. You could use this time to clean the house or meet friends for an uninterrupted coffee or more than likely, sleep, in an attempt to try and regain what you’ve been missing out on over the last 5 years.