In an attempt at making the understatement of the century, I'm going to throw this out there: parenting young kids is hard. See? Epic understatement. Hard, although accurate, falls woefully short. But, it's often a go-to when it comes to describing parenting young kids because words like 'mistake' and 'agonizing' and 'unbearable' are frowned upon. Pish.
So we say it's hard. And then we are often met with one of two reactions:
- Hell yes. I feel you. This IS hard. We'll get through it.
- Just you wait.
One of these is clearly more helpful than the other, but even that could be expanded upon, which is why this reddit thread wondering about when exactly life with young kids gets easier is so stellar.
After lamenting about how people often respond to any complaints about current difficult behavior with a shitty and ominous "just you wait," user youdoublearewhy asked:
"I know that every phase of parenting must come with its ups and downs, and of course every child and every parent is different. But can I please, please, PLEASE just hear some hopeful stories from parents who feel like they were able to regain just a little bit of their sanity when the daily meltdowns and hours-long dinner and bedtime struggles finally died down? Can I please hear that there might just be some light at the end of the tunnel where I start to feel kind of like myself again?"
And wouldn't you know it, people came up big with some really positive and insightful goodness.
For many, it was getting to toddlerhood
"Honestly, if you made it thru years one and two you’ll be fine. Toddlers can be little demons but getting to see their personalities emerge and getting to interact with them like the little humans they are outweighs the tantrums.
As your kiddo becomes more independent you’ll have more time for yourself again. Not saying it’s all sunshine and roses from here but you’re out of the trenches!" - GoneWalkiesAgain
And for others, it was putting toddlerhood in the rearview mirror
"It is incredibly easier when they are no longer toddlers. Incredibly." - Moist-Toe-9330
Potty training was a big one
"The game changer for me with my 3.5 year old is when he became well and truly potty trained shortly before three … I can go places with him and just a purse and he will tell me he needs to go and can use public bathrooms with help." - marlonthebabydog
Achieving the trifecta is #goals
"For me, it was waiting for the trifecta, no more bottles (I was unable to breastfeed), no more naps and no more diapers." - Rbeur
(Side note: you don't ever need to defend your feeding choices here. We just want you to feed it, whatever that looks like for you.)
Independence from you is helpful
"...I have noticed that's it's nice as they get older and gain a little more independence from you and you trust to leave them in the playroom/area while you cook up dinner. I think that is what we gain as parents. The first years are challenging for us as the parent because we feel like having octopus arms would be the only way to deal. Holding, feeding, changing, playing, cooking, cleaning, crying (you and/or baby). But that feeling is dwindling as my LO is gaining independence." - SouthParkTaughtMe
As is independence from all the stuff you end up lugging around
"...We are done with diapers, strollers, sippy cups and bottles, training wheels, etc. All three are good swimmers and can go on a decent hike or bike ride (especially if snacks are involved). Day trips and vacations are so much easier now. Homelife is busier due to more activities, but they're able to contribute more (and destroy less) when it comes to keeping the house in order. Two of them read voraciously, so they can entertain themselves without me resorting to screen time.
TLDR: It gets better – much better. I'd say the tipping point is around age four (that's been our experience, anyway)." - RagingAardvark
Being able to communicate better is huge
"Preschooler mom here. While the hours-long dinner is still in full force, I’m having so much fun just having real conversations with my kid. We just had another baby, but things genuinely got really chill for a minute there in my house. And we are FINALLY getting to a place where bedtime isn’t a struggle. There are parts that get worse, but it’s super cool to be able to relate to my daughter more as a person." - whynotbunberg
And sometimes it's just hitting that magic age
"3.5 is the best, so far. It’s seriously so uphill from here, the 2’s are bullshit, the beginning of 3 was also bullshit. But 3.5+? Amazing. We are on a regular schedule, she’s in preschool, she’s potty trained. She’s funny! She tells jokes. She’s sweet and smart and a good friend. There is nothing bad to wait for, it only gets better!" - Vegetable_Burrito
Even if they don't get easier, you get more experienced
"When my baby was around three weeks old, I remember a friend telling me, "once they hit a year it gets easier". All I could think was, "I can't do this for a year!" The truth was (for me anyway) that, yes, it did get better but we didn't jump to that, we climbed there. Each day, week, month, and year got better.
There were definitely setbacks but each time I'd find my groove a little more and could handle the bumps in the road better.
For me, around three or four was a real turning point and they keep getting more fun with every year. My kids are now 13 and 15 and I wish I could freeze time because they are so amazing."
So when does it get easier?
Really there's no hard and fast answer, but one thing is for sure: it does. It absolutely does, one tiny step at a time. And yes, it's not linear, and there will be new things that crop up that make your eyelid twitch, but overall there is nothing quite as emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting as parenting young kids. In a word, it's HARD. Ha! I'll see myself out...
When would you say life with a young kid gets better?
Was it a certain age, or was it more related to a behavior or skill? Let us know in the comments below!
Our next reco: Best Advice for New Parents
(Some of the included quotes have been edited for length and/or clarity. Full comments can be found here.)