It gets easier… kinda

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Categories Infants, Toddlers

My sister-in-law asked me a question last night about the kids and parenting.

“What do you think is easier, now (18 months) or, say, 12 months?”

I thought about it for a while.  My initial instinct and response was to say that now is easier.  They can walk, they have some useful words, they can play in new ways.  But, as we all know, the truth isn’t that clear.

On the one hand, I’m the first to reassure a new mom of twins that it does, in fact, get easier.  And it really does.  There’s nothing quite like those first few crazed weeks and months, when you are filled with worry and doubt and often feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.  But aside from that… is it easier?

Two Months Old

I think the truth is closer to this: the things that were really hard in the earliest days, like struggling to breastfeed slow eaters, total lack of sleep, and other basic survival needs, are generally less and less of an issue as the kids get older.  But as they grow, new things get hard.  For instance, I give almost no thought to my kids getting a full night’s sleep these days (knock on wood, thank my lucky stars, turn around three times and spit).  But I also occasionally have fond memories of the days when they stayed where I put them, whether that was the exersaucer or even sitting on a playmat.  Now I have two toddlers who seem to think that they have to get the maximum amount of destruction accomplished in the 30 minutes before bedtime.  (Do they have some kind of mess quota they need to meet by the end of the day?)

So now, when I’m talking to a new mom, I do feel like I’m being honest when I say it gets easier.  Because the things that are so, SO hard at 6 and 12 weeks and 5 months will absolutely get easier.  And while there are new and interesting things that crop up to keep you on your toes, I’m not willing to be a downer and say “oh, look out, it gets harder!”  Because that’s not entirely true, either.

For me, I have to say that the general trajectory is that things get better as they get older, if not necessarily easier.  Yes, two toddlers with their nonsensical eating habits, lack of logical reasoning, intense whining, and general madness can be really hard some most many days.  But I also think that the good parts of this age are way better than the good parts of, say, 4 months.  Hard is still hard, bad is still bad, but good is better.

Or, at least, that’s how I like to think about it.  What about you?  Do you think it generally gets easier as they get older? Harder?  Sure, every age has it’s challenges, but what stage has been your favorite so far?

I think this might be my favorite stage yet (though I did rather like months 9-12).  And if nothing else, I might be able to get them started on chores soon…

Washing the dishwasher

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21 thoughts on “It gets easier… kinda”

  1. Hands down, 9-12 months was my favorite. Nate had ear tubes so no more screaming. Alex did have his helmet but he was so CUTE in it. But they were just so happy!

    I try to tell my friends that the physical aspect gets easier as they age but the emotional part is SO MUCH HARDER. Sure, it was tough to deal with a crying baby and being a first-time mom, but the emotional aspects of being a parent do get tougher.

    Like right now with Nate, I often question my parenting. Am I making him this way? What more can I do? Am I going to spoil him because I don’t fight the small fights? Why is he so VERY tender one minute and so very horrible dreadful EVIL the next with no warning?

    And then it’s also embarrassing when older kids act up bc people think you should be in control of them. And if I can’t control them at 2 what am I going to do when they are teenagers?!?!

    I still judge it by – would I ever willingly go back to that phase? NEVER on the newborn. Maybe 6 months. Definite 9 months. This phase with Nate is still out to jury.

  2. I am a first time mother of 8 1/2 month old twins and I must admit it is a lot easier now than it was even two months ago, but my babies aren’t crawling yet. I think pat of the difference is that I am finally letting go of so much of the worry. I am starting to trust that I have read enough about sleeping at night, napping, breastfeeding, introducing solids, etc. I am finally trusting myself to be the best guide for my children which is allowing me to feel more joy in the adventure of raising two beautiful babies. For the first time in months their cry longer frightens me, even though they are increasing in volume daily.

    Thanks to all for sharing your insights on twins!

    -Alisa, mom of Maya and Max

  3. I think you are right. I don’t know if it necessarily gets easier, but for me, having them sleep through the night and thus, me being able to get a good night’s sleep makes dealing with the new challenges easier. My twins are 18.5 months now and I think this is my favorite stage so far. They can communicate with me pretty well, will entertain themselves for fairly long stretches and are just fun to be around. There are downsides to this stage…not liking to sit still or be confined, becoming much more opinionated, etc., but I think the positives far outweigh the negatives. They are becoming little people, with opinions and personalities and it is really fun to see!

  4. Yes, you are right in many ways…the hardest parts get easier, but lately I think I’m just growing immune to the difficulty…at some point, it’s just “life as we know it”!! (and love it..) 😉

    Susan
    mom of 17 mo. old b/g twins

  5. I don’t think life with multiples is ever “easy”. The challenges just change over time! Sleeping through the night definitely makes meeting the demands of the day easier. Also, the fact that they can express themselves more is helpful. I love the fact, too, that they can keep each other entertained now. That takes a lot of pressure off of us.

  6. 2.5 years old has been a real watershed for us. Things are truly easier *and* better than ever for us at this age. Physically, Maddie and Riley can walk up and down stairs by themselves, put their own coats and hats on (and snow boots!), carry their backpacks to the kitchen after daycare, put dishes in the sink and clothes in the hamper, pick out their own clothes for school, help clean up toys, etc.

    Emotionally, Maddie and Riley are particularly verbal, so when they are frustrated, they can tell me what’s wrong. After months and months and months of “I don’t understand you when you whine; what are you trying to say?” the whining has really started to abate. They share with each other most of the time and they understand taking turns even when they don’t like it.

    Best of all? They are truly each other’s best friend. They play together and invent crazy games. They “read” each other stories and comfort each other when they are sad. It’s amazing. This is by far my favorite stage so far.

    At the other end of the spectrum, I don’t think you could pay me enough to go back to 18 months. They didn’t sleep, they didn’t eat, and in my memory, all they did was have tantrums. *SHUDDER*

  7. 19.5 months is a killer in a lot of ways, but one of my guys is actually talking and I LOVE it!

    It really resonated when you wrote that the good parts are so much better than the good parts at 7 nine months. For sure!

  8. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I definitely think each stage is more fun than the last, and 21 months is a blast. They are little people who try to tell you stories and remember games they like to play and love to spend time with grandma.

    Some changes make things harder for a while. I think for me going to 1 nap made things harder, because I got so much less of a break during the day. However, each step of independence has been an improvement—-walking, climbing steps, climbing into the carseat, putting on jackets, cleaning up, eating real food—that’s all made my life so much easier. It is also much easier to leave them with someone, either a babysitter or a family member, so that we can finally feel like we have something of a life back. I was thinking about this when I was at the ER for 12 hours yesterday (those are hours of my life I’m never getting back!) and thinking about what we would have done if they were still breastfeeding? Or still really difficult to get down at night? At 21 months, we just walked out the door and Grandma did fine.

  9. I think things become different, but not necessarily easier. As they become more mobile, they can get hurt more easily. As they can talk, it makes life easier, but not quieter! I do miss the days of them just napping when I put them to nap without an hour of playtime, or having a relatively clean living room floor.

    My challenges lie with having four kids and the last being the twins (2 years old). The girls want to do what their older brother and sister do, and can’t understand why they’re too little. But then they play together nicely (sometimes) and it makes it better.

  10. You said it wonderfully. My answer is that it changes. 0-6m no sleep, my fear of everything (preemie & post- TTTS) or now, my fear of double ER visits and inability to get it all done. Every stage brings joys and frustrations….just like one…BUT DOUBLE!! {snicker}

  11. I have to agree with Kristin, although my twins are a little younger.

    Having four kids with the youngest being just about 1 year old twins and the others being 2.5 and 5 is driving me crazy. When the babies were little, we were able to go out and do almost anything we needed to. We just strapped them into the carseats/strollers and went on our merry way. Sure, they puked and cried constantly at night, but at least we were able to get out during the day.

    Right now I am not capable of getting everyone out safely on a regular basis. With two babies/new toddlers who have houdini like skills of climbing out of things and refuse to sit still for more than 2 minutes combined with a 2.5 year old who is a runner and the disgusting nature of a MN winter, I have been spending massive amounts of quality time in my basement. Not fun.

    When the babies were born I had my eye on the prize (aka one), thinking that if we made it through the first year it would be golden. Since that day comes in 3 days and I am at times verging on the edge of insanity, I have had to shift my goal to 2 years.

    So, mommies who have made it farther than me, I will take you at your word that it gets easier, cause Lord knows I’m waiting!

    ps. On a more positive note, I also have the mantra of summer will be better, summer will be better that gets me through those tough days!

  12. If you’re loving 18 months, you’re doing great -I thought that was the hardest age of all. I loved 6-12 months. But, I’ve talked to a lot of twin parents that thought age 2 wasn’t so terrible at all, because the fact that it’s so much easier physically and practically kind of makes up for the drama and tantrums. That was true for us. 3.5, on the other hand… Who knew they could still be so whiny and unreasonable at almost 4?

  13. I think that parenting may not be that much easier, but I’m better at it now with more experience under my belt, and a deeper understanding of each of children.

    Some parts are easier. At 2.75 (thanks, Laura!), my girls can understand and talk about the absence of their father. He left when they were five months old, too, but back then, one went on a nursing strike. I’ll take “I need my Daddy” over a nursing strike any day!

    Some parts are harder. Handling their criticism of my shortcomings is HARD. Potty training is hard. Teaching them to handle their emotions in a socially acceptable way is hard.

    Sleep, more than anything, makes almost 3 years easier than almost 3 months.

  14. I think ‘easier’ should be a word banished from parenting. :)

    My feeling is that things have progressed and changed and altered so much so quickly. I had such a rough start that everything since has been better. And it is crazy and amazing and hard and fun and crappy in so many ways, but overall, it does just get better and better…except when your kid drops a very clear curse word at the park in front of the old man we help on Mondays as he cleans up….I so totally have to clean up my mouth stat. And we thought it would be cool when they started talking. Arg.

  15. Well said! I was trying to put this into words recently and you’ve hit the nail on the head. At 18 months, there are more times that I want to pull my hair out, but MANY more times that they just crack me up. I feel a little crazy thinking that this is a “hard stage” because it was SO hard in the beginning…….but this is DEFINITELY one of the most challenging ages so far!

  16. I found that once we hit 4 months the kids were easier because I was more comfortable with them – willing to CIO, “forcing” them to learn to nap well, personalities emerging. We still have our ups and downs at 5+ months but I can’t stress to new twin moms that the first 12 weeks are The Worst. Someone once wrote on a blog that as your kids grow the problems grow with them – right now as infants it is just basic needs that consume our days (eating, sleeping, some playtime) – as they get older you deal with walking, talking, eventually friend issues, sex, okay way getting ahead of myself but you see the point.

  17. My little ones are in a rowdy, exploratory stage which is testing all the limits (twin boys age 19 months)
    But I have the added perspective of the “long haul”, since my older son is 7 years old. First graders present their own unique challenges which can make the toddler challenges seem easy. New stuff crops up like school issues, issues with friends, complicated emotions, figuring out the world, testing authority, these things challenge parents in new ways.
    With my toddlers and first grader keeping me on my toes, I rarely have time for reflection anyway, we are in “survival mode” for the foreseeable future!

  18. I think as our children age we face different challenges, some of them “easier” to handle than others. Now that I get a full night’s sleep (most nights) I’m rested and better prepared to handle whatever my daughters throw at me (sometimes I mean that quite literally). Other times, such as the recent stomach bug that went through our house, I long for the days of having four infants that are quarantined to keep them away from germs! I appreciate the fact that my daughters can do more for themselves, but I don’t like the fact that they’re not snuggly babies any more!

  19. When I was in the throws of newborn twinsanity it also happened to be the dead of Winter. Besides my constant bundled up walks around the neighborhood my other safe haven was Babies R Us. It was a 30 minute drive from my house and once I was there I could browse around for hours, pushing the stroller so the nuggets would sleep and then before I left I would hole up in the “Mothers’ Room” and change and feed the babies in a quiet and calming environment. We spent ALOT of time in BRU in the first few months. This is also where I met my first real-live twin mommy post-childbirth. I saw her in the bottle section. She didn’t have her kids with her but approached me because I KNOW I had that all too familiar dazed and panic stricken look that I’ve seen so many twin mamas have since I had my girls. She introduced herself and, in a desperate tone, I whispered “please tell me it gets easier.” She smiled and said (and I remember this like it was yesterday) “Sweetie, I’m not going to lie to you. It never get easier. It just gets different.” I cried for 30 minutes in the Mothers’ Room after that. While I don’t agree with her 100% (once you take insane sleep deprivation out of the equation everything gets EASIER to HANDLE – from a mental aspect) I DO agree that it never gets “EASY.” Each age is met with a new set of challenges. So – my line now is “Yes, it gets easier when they start sleeping through the night. But it never gets “easy”…..it just gets different.” I also met a woman in the parking lot of the pedi when the girls were 11 days old. She pulled up in a huge suburban, rolled down her window and said “OH TWINS! I have twins. They are 5 now.” Jeff and I must have looked like zombies because she finished with “Don’t worry, it gets really great when they’re three!” And she drove off. Jeff and I just stood there, looked at one another and said “THREE????” I, again, cried silently the entire way home. SO – this is really long – but my goal NOW is to not SCARE new twin mamas – but I also try to be optimistically realistic! GREAT POST! Thanks!

  20. My twins are only four months old but you’re right. Things are infinitely easier than at the beginning, but there’s a whole set of new problems cropping up all the time. So yeah, it’s just different.

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