Parenting toddlers really teaches you patience. And if you still have some to learn, you get to go round two when they’re teens. We have only toddlers and teens in the house right now and it sure is taxing. I will be the most patient person on the planet after this. Or I’ll be insane. I’m praying for the former. God has somehow planned these lives so they test you and strengthen you right out of the gate. Then during the elementary school years, you get a little reprieve which is really just a chance to gear up for the next wave, the teen years. That poses a bit of a problem for us, because right now, we have ONLY toddlers and teens in our house. Literally. That means in a few years, we will have a high school senior and a kindergartener, with NO ONE in between! Our days are full of Trying Toddlers and Tumultuous Teens, and that’s why we call this stage TNT.
What’s hard about having both toddlers and teens
Here is an example of what it’s like to have only toddlers and teens: The baby is crying uncontrollably an hour after I go to sleep. Dad and brothers can’t comfort her so I get up until she is calmed and back in her bed. A few hours later, the two-year-old is having a middle-of-the-night tantrum (those are the worst, aren’t they?). While hubby gets up with her, the baby wakes up and I get up and give her a bottle. We are all sleeping peacefully again around 3:00 am. Thankfully it’s a weekend, so maybe we can sleep in a bit. But no, the phone jars us awake before six because our teen forgot to set his alarm for work and they are calling to find out why he’s not there. Of course, I can’t go back to sleep now so my night is over.
Even as I wrote this post, I kept getting interrupted by a feud between two of my teens. I had just put all the girls to bed and was looking forward to some quiet moments to put my thoughts in writing. But really, there is never a quiet moment around here. I get up at three am to feed the baby and at least one of my teens is in the kitchen eating a snack. I get up with the toddlers at seven, and one of the boys is just going to bed for the day while another is leaving for work!
If you have only little ones, you can usually put them to bed in the early evening and expect them to sleep until early morning. You have 10-12 hours of kid-free time if all goes well. Teens, on the other hand, will largely ignore you for most of the day (or simply be busy or gone from the house), and then want to come share their lives with you just as you are falling asleep. Ten pm to midnight is a wonderful time for parents and teens to bond, if the parents can stay awake! And that’s pretty difficult for a 48-year-old parent who has been chasing around three toddlers all day!
So how do we maintain our peace in all of this craziness? The honest answer is, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we mess up and blow up, even at the smallest things. As much as we want to be, we will never be perfect parents. We don’t always respond the way we would like to, but what really matters is how we handle those moments. Our kids need to know what to do when they make mistakes, blow up, or hurt someone, and they learn that by watching us.
Why I love having both toddlers and teens
Parenting is hard. So. Hard. I’ve learned that looking for the good in every day and every stage really helps me stay positive. And here’s what’s awesome about having toddlers and teens:
- Built-in babysitters!! I had to put this one first because it’s my favorite! I know each of my boys’ strengths–who to ask when I’ll be gone for hours, who is most likely to take them outside or to the park, and who will get down on the floor and play with them. Right now, we have a boy who is currently living at home and babysitting for rent. Win-win!
- Mutual Adoration. My girls love their brothers so much. It’s sweet to see how excited they get, especially when the two who don’t live here stop by for a few hours. And the boys love their little sisters and would fight for them in a heartbeat. They rejoice in every milestone right along with us, and they enjoy the moments they have together.
- Tbh, that’s all I could come up with. Haha! But just let these pictures speak for themselves…
If you’re experiencing the chaos of having both toddlers and teens at home, or any type of chaos, check out my post, “Finding Peace in the Chaos.” Hopefully it will encourage you knowing you’re not alone, and will give you some ways to cope with the craziness.