Parenting is always claimed to be one of the most wonderful experiences a person can ever go through. While it is indeed a magical time, no one should underestimate how incredibly exhausting it is. It is a commitment that will change your life – thus, it is necessary to know what you’re getting into.
When does parenting get less exhausting? There are four primary draining stages of parenthood: infancy stage, toddler stage, school kid stage, and teenager stage. Each of these stages represents significantly different challenges and ways to deal with them.
This article will detail the various draining stages of parenthood, their individual challenges, how to deal with them, and more. Hopefully, this will give you an insight as to when parenting gets less exhausting.
When Does Parenting Get Less Exhausting? (Stages)
1. Infancy Stage
When people talk about how exhausting it is to be a parent, they are probably talking about the infancy stage. Understandably, this stage is the most exhausting due to a few factors.
Challenges of the Infancy Stage
Perhaps the first reason why the infancy stage is the most exhausting for parents is that this is the stage where the children are completely reliant and dependent on their parents. In this stage, babies require assistance eating, changing their diapers, and even going to sleep.
Because of this total dependency, parents often find themselves overworked and burned out. They find it incredibly difficult to maintain their regular daily activities (e.g., work, house chores, personal time, etc.) when they have to take care of an infant at the same time.
Another important reason why the infancy stage can be so exhausting is that oftentimes, parents are completely new to parenting. Aside from the physical exertion of taking care of the baby, they themselves are learning to become parents.
Parenting for the first time can be considered to be the reason why the infancy stage can be extremely exhausting. New parents do not yet know what to expect, and they have to adapt to new situations all the time. This constant need to be alert exacerbates the exhaustion of parenthood.
Dealing with the Infancy Stage
There are many ways to help lessen the burden of the infancy stage. For example, it is highly recommended to get your baby on a daily routine as soon as possible.
When babies are born, they have yet to develop their circadian rhythms – their biological clocks. This is why babies are often depicted to cry all night and sleep all day.
Getting babies on a daily routine can help them develop their circadian rhythms quicker, therefore making it easier to take care of them as it makes their actions more predictable. This will significantly increase your chances of getting a full night’s worth of sleep.
It is also important to accept help from other people. There are times when parents can be too shy, or even proud, to accept help from loved ones. However, you must be willing to accept help anywhere you can. Even if it is a simple meal or an hour of looking after your baby, the help should be greatly appreciated.
If you have the necessary resources, an easy way to alleviate the burdens of parenthood is by hiring help. A nanny would definitely help around the house, but even a babysitter can be enough to give you some time for yourself. Knowing the difference between the two will be important to determine which one suits your desired lifestyle best.
For new parents, parenting classes are crucial. While it may not completely prepare you for all the challenges of parenthood, parenting classes can give you an idea how things are like, and what to do in certain situations.
Lastly, the only way to get better at parenting is to do it. Many parents claim their first child was more difficult than the second or third. Outside of classes, experience is truly the best teacher you can get.
2. Toddler Stage
After a year, your baby would have grown a considerable amount. At this stage, several milestones have been achieved. The transition from an infant to a toddler showcases the dynamic responsibilities of a parent as a toddler will present new challenges for you to deal with.
Challenges of the Toddler Stage
When your baby takes their first steps, it would be a magical moment. However, those will be the first steps of many because you will often find yourself trying to control and stop your toddler from walking or running everywhere around the house.
Now that your toddler is mobile, there are new hazards to be aware of. A newborn is fine because they do not leave the crib. However, a toddler running around means that you have to regularly be on your guard to make sure they are not doing anything unsafe.
Additionally, toddlers are insurmountably curious. Though a good thing for their cognitive development, curiosity can be dangerous when left unattended. Thus, you might find yourself with even less time than before since you need to keep an eye on them at all times.
Aside from their physical needs, toddlers are also learning to express their emotions. During this stage, you will find toddlers have emotional tantrums and such.
Compared to an infant, toddlers now require way more activities. Be it playing with toys, making art, or reading books, your toddler is significantly more active now. The toddler stage also represents the beginning of another aspect of your parenting – teaching.
Aside from taking care of them, parenting means teaching your toddler basic concepts and even responsibilities. You will have to be aware that at this stage, your actions can become instrumental to who they grow up to be.
Dealing with the Toddler Stage
Dealing with the toddler stage can be quite similar to the infancy stage. The energy required for dealing with the infancy stage should be more than enough. However, that energy is now diverted to different aspects of parenthood.
One great way to deal with a toddler is to have lots of activities prepared. Not only do activities help keep toddlers preoccupied, but the activities can also be educational and conducive to their development and growth.
It is important to remember that no matter how simple the activities are, even simply playing with wooden blocks, they can still be helping your toddler grow and learn about the world around them.
Another important way to deal with toddlers is to be prepared for emotional outbursts. Parents have different strategies when dealing with tantrums. While some choose to address it directly and nip it in the bud, some opt for a more passive approach and ignore tantrums until they run out of energy.
You can take this opportunity and teach your toddler about calming time – a relative compromise of the direct and indirect approaches. Calming time can help your child learn to regulate their emotions, a skill that will prove to be invaluable when they grow up.
At this stage, you should also lead by example. Communicate with your toddler the way you want them to communicate with you. You must remember that as their primary role models, they will emulate their parents the most.
3. School Kid Stage
When your child begins primary school, you can then feel like parenting is beginning to be less exhausting. At this age, your children are relatively self-sufficient. You still have to take care of them, but you can trust them to do certain tasks on their own.
Just like how your responsibilities have changed from the infant to the toddler stage, so will they change as you transition to the school kid stage.
Challenges of School Kid Stage
As mentioned, kids at this age are relatively more reliable. Compared to an infant or a toddler, you are leaving your kids at school and expect them to do well and behave on their own. However, they still come with old challenges.
For example, you should still expect to experience emotional tantrums and outbursts from kids at this age. While you may have already dealt with this before, it can still take a long time before your child matures emotionally. Thus, you should still be prepared for tantrums at this stage.
While this stage may be considered by many to be less physically draining, some say that this stage is the beginning of the more emotionally draining part of parenthood.
You will also have to deal with rule-breaking. You cannot expect to impose too many rules on an infant or a toddler. However, your expectations should be higher for a school kid. Unfortunately, children love testing boundaries, and sometimes, that means breaking the rules.
From simple rules around the house, even to rules in school. It is not uncommon for children to break rules whenever they can.
You can also expect your playtime activities in the toddler stage to evolve into extracurricular and after-school activities. It may not be as physically involved, but your time management will be tested as you will be bringing and fetching your kids from school, from soccer, from piano lessons, and more.
Dealing with the School Kid Stage
While you may have begun emotional training in the toddler stage, you will need to keep it up in the school kid stage. It is paramount that you impart proper emotional skills to your child as these skills are necessary for them when they grow up.
There are various ways to deal with tantrums. Dealing with them is the first step, but it is more important to know how to deal with them correctly.
You will also have to learn how to set boundaries. Some form of discipline is necessary in the home, especially if you have a child who enjoys testing limits in the house.
Though you may have personally been physically disciplined when you were a child, there are numerous cases against it. Thus, you will need to discipline your child in other ways, such as grounding, taking away TV privileges, and more.
Fortunately, it is primarily agreed that this stage is relatively easier to deal with compared to the infancy and toddler stages. However, you would still need to be on your toes as unexpected challenges can arise at any moment.
Lastly, one of the best ways to deal with children at this stage is to have good time management skills. At this stage, activities are easier to block out during the day, which means a good schedule and routine should help make things around the house easier to deal with.
4. Teenager Stage
Some believe that parenting gets less exhausting during the teenage years of the child, but is that really the case?
After more than a decade of being a parent, you should feel comfort that your child is almost entirely self-reliant. With resources still coming from you, your teenager can pretty much take care of themselves. They truly are budding young adults.
Despite their age, some parents would actually call the teenager stage the most difficult part of parenting.
Challenges of the Teenager Stage
While the infancy stage might be the most draining stage physically, many parents report that the teenager stage is the most draining emotionally. Their emotional development has been building up since the toddler stage up to this point.
It could be teenage drama, teenage angst, teenage anger, or all of the above. Whatever it may be, your teenager will go through something, and you will be in the crossfires of it all.
It becomes significantly more complicated when their attitude and personalities are affecting their academic life. It is not uncommon for teenagers to let their grades slip as they get distracted by their tumultuous feelings.
You will also have to worry about your teenager’s future more than ever. The teenager stage is when they will be making important decisions that can affect their lives, such as whether they take jobs during the summer, or go to college.
Another thing to worry about is making sure you are instilling the necessary values and virtues you want your teenager to have. It won’t be long before they are adults themselves, and you have to make sure they become adults you are proud of.
Dealing with the Teenager Stage
With many parents saying that the teenager stage is the most emotionally draining stage, you must remember that this is not primarily their fault.
As teenagers, their bodies are being pumped with hormones from puberty, making their brains work overtime. The surge of hormones during this stage is the cause of their emotional turbulence.
One of the best ways to deal with this, which you could not have done when they were younger, is to have an adult conversation. At this stage, you can trust that the teenager can understand you wholeheartedly. You must use this to your advantage and communicate with your child.
When it comes to them making their big life decisions, you have to accept that you are no longer in charge. While there are certain paths you want your child to take, you must understand that you can only trust them to take the right one.
Though it may be difficult to force them to do what you want them to do, you can surely give them advice and gently nudge them to a path you think is best for them – while still considering their own dreams and goals.
Lastly, you have to accept that your children are their own persons. At this stage, they will be able to articulate their own ideas and opinions – and those ideas might not be the same as yours. You will have to accept that you have raised them to be independent and think for themselves.
So, When Does Parenting Get Less Exhausting?
Ultimately, it sounds like parenting ceases to be exhausting when your children finally leave the house. Even then, you will have challenges to deal with because from the moment they were born, you will always be a parent.
The most difficult part of the challenges of parenthood is how they constantly evolve. Each stage of your child’s life will have different challenges for you to overcome. One of the best things you can do is simply learn to adapt to these circumstances and respond accordingly to the best of your abilities.