Leaving the Little Kid Years

I began tracking my time continuously in April 2015.

At the time, my youngest child was 3 months old. That first day featured something like 5 nursing sessions with another feeding coming from a pumped bottle.

Needless to say, my time looks different now. While I did get a 6 month reprieve from diapers in late 2014, I was pregnant at the time. I have had a little kid at home for 11 or so years. Now my “baby” is four. He goes to preschool, is potty trained, can play by himself (or be reliably distracted with cartoons) and — a real treat — no longer fights bedtime. On the nights I put him to bed, we read a story, he gets in his bed, I kiss him goodnight, I walk out the door and he stays there. Looking over my time logs  of evening battles from even a year ago, I see how exciting a development this is.

Of course, time is always filled with something. I now spend a fair amount of time at big kid activities. For instance, last night I drove the 9-year-old to a Little League game at 5:25 p.m., and we got home at 8:10 p.m. (they won! My son technically got the “winning run” — but he was walked in. The bases got loaded on walks; this is a challenge of kid-pitch baseball when the kids are 9 and 10 years old…there are a ton of walks). On Monday, I drove to and from swim practice three times. The round trip takes 18 minutes, and I waited a few minutes on one pick up, so that accounts for an hour of my life right there.

But as time opens up, some of it is filled with real leisure. I read more books now. (I’m reading K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches — good for some Little League sideline reading.) I joined my choir in fall of 2017, and now during the school year rehearsals consume 3-4 hours weekly beyond what I would have been spending at church anyway.

The biggest change of leaving the little kid years has been psychological.

I love babies, and I love holding my friends’ babies, but little kids are so exhausting. In an upcoming episode of Best of Both Worlds we talk about weekends and toddlers. Anytime I see someone write or talk about how amazing weekends are, and how relaxing, I know this person does not have toddlers (or, if this person does have little kids…I suspect he has not paused to wonder why his partner does not find weekends nearly as relaxing.)

For the first time in 11+ years, I can now relax on weekends at my house while the kids are there. Even without hashing out with my husband who is covering what. It feels very different! Of course, big kids come with their own issues and angst. I know we are in that golden zone where the kids are big enough to take care of most of their own physical needs, but are not yet old enough to crash my car. Nonetheless, being able to sit with my coffee in the morning and read without too many interruptions is quite lovely. The kids can even have real conversations. This makes driving them around mildly more entertaining, which is good, given how much time I spend driving.

What changes did you make in how you spent your time after leaving the little kid years?

In other news: I spent a lot of time watching sports yesterday, since I watched the 76ers win their series against the Brooklyn Nets. The game ended in such a Philly way — even though the Sixers were up 27 with less than 2 minutes to go, they had to have a brawl resulting in four players (over the two teams) getting ejected. Sheesh.

FranklinCovey featured me in this week’s On Leadership video. You can check it out here.

Photo: Flashback. He’s much bigger now!  

21 thoughts on “Leaving the Little Kid Years

  1. This sort of thing is so encouraging to read. My kid turns one next week, and while this is already so much more fun than the newborn stage (I was not a fan! sorry, but newborns are basically screaming, eating, pooping sacks of potatoes), he still obviously demands a LOT of time and attention. I always appreciate reminders that life may eventually be a little more relaxed again!

    1. I also did not love the newborn stage (I was never one to voluntarily hold someone’s baby before, during or after I had my own!) and now that mine are 2.5 and just turned 5, I can’t imagine going back to that! I know things will get more complicated as my oldest starts school next year, but as we start doing some of our summer activities (trips to the park, attending events at my husband’s school) I can already tell they will be much easier and enjoyable than when we did them last fall. I love these toddler/preschool ages and I look forward to enjoying them even more as they get older! Reading with coffee interruption-free? We’re so close!!

      1. @Kristin W – yes, the uninterrupted reading is the best thing ever! I don’t usually get hours…but I get more than 2 minutes.

  2. My boys are almost 15 and almost 18 (although the older one does have some special needs). I loved when they got to the age where they were somewhat aware of things going on in the world and we could have great conversations about various current events (although with the older one, it’s usually sports-related). I also loved when we got to the point where they could be left without a sitter and we could spontaneously decide on a Friday or a Saturday night that we were going out for dinner just the two of us. Not having to book a babysitter (which wasn’t always easy because we didn’t have a big pool of options) was a huge game changer for date nights and now we can prioritize them more. And I love that I don’t have to drag kids with me to run errands.

    1. @Amy O – we aren’t there yet, but the idea of a non-planned date night does sound exciting!

  3. Wow, this was really nice to read! I have an infant an a toddler right now, and “I can now relax on weekends at my house while the kids are there without hashing out with my husband who is covering what” really resonates with me. We often joke that weekends are more exhausting than the weekdays when we’re both working. Fun, but exhausting. I often look forward to the day when I can get a couple of hours to read a book again.

    1. @Katharine – yep, I have to say that during the little kid years, I was not sad to see Monday roll around. We did good stuff, but work was definitely more relaxing.

    2. Totally! My colleagues get very angry look when they say “enjoy the weekend! Relax!” on Friday afternoon. Like relaxing is an option with two young kids… For me the real hard thing with weekends is to get time alone. I really need it to function well but it rarely happens (I try to schedule it of course – faithful believer of Laura’s advice! – but it still rarely happens)

  4. YES! My kids are 5 and 8 and I feel so much less anxious about a lot of aspects of parenting now that they aren’t babies/toddlers and needing me every.single.second. I have been able to quit my full time job and start my own business and ramp up my marathon training now that I am not tied to them for everything.

    1. @Amy – running and building a business are both great ways to spend the time that’s freed up when you’re out of the little kid years! (And good luck on your upcoming marathon!)

  5. I miss the snuggles of the little kid years, but fortunately my daughter, who is 7, is still pretty snuggly. So hopefully I have a few years left of that! Now that she’s older we can bring her on vacation and not plan the ENTIRE vacation around her entertainment and/or nap schedule. I can even drag her to museums and historical things. Her tolerance for such activities may even exceed my own at this point. I can watch adult movies or hang out with my husband with her safely entertained in the other room. We read books each evening together. It is lovely.

    1. @Sydney- here’s to snuggly 7-year-olds! I am really liking age 4, because my little guy is still baby-adorable and snuggly…but is probably not going to stick a fork in his eye if I turn my back for one second.

  6. I loved snuggling my babies and I loved my adorable toddlers and preschoolers and elementary age kids.
    They are now 13 and 16 and I love their edginess and humor and even the eye roles and sarcasm. I love the talks about music and politics and life and things they learn at school. I guess I love all the ages for different reasons but I sure do appreciate the freedom that comes with older kids!

  7. It’s so nice to hear that there’s some light at the end of the tunnel, even if the tunnel is several years long. It seems like every month of his life my toddler has become more capable of destroying himself without gaining any corresponding instinct for self-preservation. Sometimes I look back with great fondness on the newborn months, when he took four naps a day and I could use the bathroom without an audience.

  8. With a 4 and 1.5 year old, I am really looking forward to getting out of the baby / toddler years… I thought 4 would be a cut off point but I now realise it will take a few more years. Yes they are “physically” more autonomous (e.g. can dress up on his own) but emotionally they are still a bit babies (we had three tantrums this morning because of clothes I chose for him and negative comments that other kids at school would supposedly make about him). 6-7 years old seems to be the silver lining as far as I can read… so a few more years to endure! :-/

  9. Totally! My colleagues get very angry look when they say “enjoy the weekend! Relax!” on Friday afternoon. Like relaxing is an option with two young kids… For me the real hard thing with weekends is to get time alone. I really need it to function well but it rarely happens (I try to schedule it of course – faithful believer of Laura’s advice! – but it still rarely happens)

  10. Totally! The other day it struck me that I am perfectly capable of taking my two anywhere, at any time, alone. Not that I ever “couldn’t,” but honestly I preferred to have another adult (usually hubby) along for most outings. Now the older, at almost 13, is a mini-adult, and the younger, though with some special needs, has become much easier.

    Goal: plan and live an EPIC summer! <3

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