It seems like on social media people are constantly battling which age is the hardest to parent. Today I want to chat about what age is the hardest to parent.
Big thanks to our sponsor Family Routines — if you’re looking to get your family on a routine that makes life easier, it is the course for you!
In this episode
What the hardest parts of newborns, toddlers, preschoolers, school-age kids, teenagers or adult children.
Other things that might interest you
Producer: Drew Erickson
Check out my other parenting podcasts:
[00:00:00.190] – Hilary Erickson
Hey guys, welcome back to the Pulling Curls podcast. Today on episode 157, we are answering the age old question– which age is the worst to parent? Lets untangle it.
[00:00:20.190] – Hilary Erickson
Hi. I’m Hilary Erickson, the curly head behind the Pulling Curls Podcast: pregnancy and untangled. There’s no right answer for every family, but on this show we hope to give you some ideas to make life simpler at your house. Life tangled just like my hair.
[00:00:42.610] – Hilary Erickson
So I watch a lot of newborn TikTok, or I have watched it, I don’t watch as much TikTok lately. But I am always struck by how easy the answers to these people’s questions are. Newborns are easy people, right? They just want to eat, poop, sleep, be like swaddled. But then I think back to Hillary with a newborn. So complicated, right? I mean, we have reflux and there’s always stuff that gets in there, but essentially the newborn answers are pretty simple. Comparatively. So today I want to talk about what the hardest part of each parenting journey is. And then ultimately I’m going to answer which I think is the hardest part.
[00:01:26.870] – Hilary Erickson
Are you overwhelmed by all there is to do around your house? As a new mom, I felt overwhelmed at every turn. Fortunately, I turned to system to make a change. Whether it’s mornings, dinner time, or even just to climb out of a pile of kids’ clothes, my course family routines can save you. I hold your hand as we smooth out these rough patches, making every day easier so we can more easily handle when your preschooler tells you they can use their urine like a lightsaber. Parenting is always going to be a wild ride. Routines are just your seatbelt and they can support you. Use coupon code UNTANGLED to save 15% off checkout. Link in the show notes.
[00:02:03.690] – Hilary Erickson
So for newborns and babies, the hardest part is the lack of sleep. Honestly, if you are sleeping, newborns really wouldn’t be so bad because the main problem is that they run you 24 hours a day, right? Yeah. There are other problems and there are complications with newborns, especially if you have other kids you’re adding in a newborn. But that’s the other kids problem. Not so much like the newborn rarely cares about your other kids, it’s the kids caring about the time and attention or the noise that the newborn is making. And even after you start to sleep through the night, I think your brain is still catching up. Like that first year it is rough. So hats off to the moms of newborns and babies in that first year it is rough. I’m right there with you. If I could pay for postpartum doula who could come in like once a week and help me get like a full eight hour sleep, I can’t imagine a better investment. I guess you’re five to nine, but wow, that would have been helpful. Okay, so the next stage is toddlers and suddenly you’re starting to lose just a little bit of a lack of control.
[00:03:03.480] – Hilary Erickson
They are not as easy as they used to be. Right. And you have to have constant vigilance for their safety because they cannot make good decisions on their own. Like a good majority of their decisions are poor. What they eat wanting or not wanting to sleep, what they’re like pulling off the shelves, how they’re climbing up a shells. They just have zero ability to monitor themselves. And so that can be really rough for toddlers. It just feels like you’re the policeman all the time. So hats off to moms of toddlers. That is a rough time. By the way, if I’m missing the worst part of the stage that you’re in, come on over to Instagram and tell me on the post for this podcast. I think I would love to hear. Preschoolers. A lot of times, some of the harder part of them is, well, you’re starting to let go. Just tiny little bits, and you might be even letting go into more influence from other people in their lives. Sure, you might have had daycare before, but teachers have a little bit more influence than, say, daycare workers because they’re teaching them, and you’re just starting to need to let go.
[00:03:58.380] – Hilary Erickson
And they’re starting to maybe make the right choices, but then also venturing back into lots of poor choices. And so I feel like you get in this level of trust with a four year old, and then all of a sudden things are quiet for a while and just Koreans downhill, right? So, mom’s a preschooler. Hats off to you. You are rocking it. Okay, then we’ve got school age child. I think one of the hardest part of schoolage children is remembering that things that seem stupid and trivial to us are important to them. They always talk. Same for preschoolers. They talk about the color cup that they want, right. Because we control so much of their lives. They don’t have any control over it. And I’m not sure that they even want control over a lot of it. We were like, where do you want to go to school? They just like, blink at us. But because we’re controlling a lot of the things that they do, those little decisions that they want to make are so important to them, and it totally messes with our lives, right? And it’s hard to be yeah, that obviously is super important in the color of bowl that I got you out today.
[00:04:55.660] – Hilary Erickson
So school is rough, homework is rough. You’re starting to be in the battle, the lifelong battle of when do you step in and when do you let them do their own thing, right? School age is an awesome age, like seven to eight to nine. One of my favorite ages, obviously age four months, where they sleep through the night. My kids live through the night by four months of age. They smile at me, often laugh, and they don’t go anywhere. It’s the penultimate of all parenting stages. So I feel like it’s just green downhill since there. But hats off to four months old. They are winning the war of the world. Okay, then you’ve got teenagers and that one you’re really starting to learn to let go, right? They are learning to drive. They are doing things with children of the opposite sex. They’re starting to make big choices and they could make really big wrong choices most often. Kids are not making big, often wrong choices in those early teen years. But you kind of see those looming like this could lead to a big thing. So a lot of it in teenage years is thinking about what it could end up being.
[00:05:59.360] – Hilary Erickson
Where will this relationship turn? Will it ruin them if they break up? It’s just watching them make these choices and then deciding if you’re going to interview or if you’re going to say anything. And if you do say anything, is it right? It’s almost like a bad boyfriend. Speaking of bad boyfriend, we’re headed to adult children and that is 100% learning to let go and not have any control over what their life, but also realizing that you’re there to help guide them if they need anything. This is a rough age, guys, because it lulls you into complacency where you’re like, they have a job, they have an apartment, like they’re doing really well. And then all of a sudden you get this phone call where they’ve spiraled back down into a toddler and they get into a car wreck. Suddenly they don’t know what to do. They need help. You need to help them do lots of different things. And so you have this life where you’re not constantly involved with them, but then they pull you back in with suddenly a big need. Sometimes I wonder if my parents still feel this way about me.
[00:06:55.610] – Hilary Erickson
So it could well be and just helping them understand that the choices that they’re making and the types of consequences that they could be. So which is the hardest? All of them. The one you are in right now is all consuming. It’s everything and it’s the best and it’s the worst. And you need a break, but you also want to fully engage in it. And very rarely, besides wanting them to sleep through the night, I very rarely thought, I can’t wait till the next stage. I did think, yes, this child is annoying me and I think it’s never going to end. Like, I always figured that the worst parts were going to stick forever and I just tried to stay with the good parts as long as I could. But all of parenting is so hard and it is so good and it is everything good and bad, like in one bunch of emotions. So often I see on social media people saying, oh, you shouldn’t say, well, just you wait. And I 100% agree with that. But it is hard to not think, well, that was so much easier because we’re not in that zone, right?
[00:07:57.020] – Hilary Erickson
Sometimes I look at single people and I’m like, girl, you got it made. Nobody’s wanting anything from you. But when I was single, I wanted to be married and have a family. So much of the grass is greener, right? And then as someone who is obsessed with watering, the grass at your neighbors is always greener because the grass you’re staring down at, you see all the brown bits, whereas when you look over at your neighbors, you just see green, beautiful grass. And I think so much of life is like that. So every stage is the hardest, every stage is the best. Just try and remember that. I try and remember that I have two adult children right now, and it is really throwing me for a loop when to step in and when not to step in and not to lose my mind when they act like a toddler who deserves the Red Bull and that would be a euphemism for what they think they deserve otherwise. But I’m just struggling through it and I struggled through newborns, and we just do the best that we can, and that’s fine, too. So anyway, those are my thoughts.
[00:08:52.950] – Hilary Erickson
I would love to hear your thoughts over on Instagram. Come tell me and tell me which phase you think is the hardest. And I guess the phase is parenting adult children because it lasts the longest, right? I mean, you hope it does. So tell me over there. I would love to know.
[00:09:07.660] – Hilary Erickson
Don’t miss our upcoming episodes. Next week we are talking about what to do if your partner is not as supportive as you’re, liking when you’re in labor or frankly, in your marriage. So kind of an offshoot of this one, because that can be a hard part of parenting as well. And the week after that, we’re talking about saving for retirement. So lots of great issues. I hope you’ll join me for those.
[00:09:27.350] – Hilary Erickson
Thanks so much for joining us on today’s episode. The Pulling Curls podcast grows when you share us on social media or leave a review. If you do, please tag us so that we can share and send you a virtual hug, which frankly, is my favorite kind of hugging. Until next time, we hope you have a tangle free day.