We know kids are all different, with their very own individual needs. But even though, it never stops to amaze me just how different the journey of each and every parent can be. All new parents struggle, and all in a totally different way. Some kids sleep through the night very early on, while others can wake up every single hour for months and months on end, without very little improvement. Hello sister.
You never know just how hard parenting is until you find yourself in that situation. Throughout the pregnancy, you envision your new life with the baby and all the excitement and anticipation is almost too much to bear. Those nine months of waiting seem to go on forever. You count the days down and can’t wait to finally hold your new bundle of joy.
Then, your baby arrives and you realise very early on that your expectations don’t quite meet the reality. Nothing, no book, no antenatal courses, or videos, can really prepare you for the rollercoaster that you are about to get on board.
You finally understand only too well what the term sleep deprivation means. Yes, you knew that your baby is going to wake up frequently in the first few months of their life but when this happens a year or so later, it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Of course, there are many moments when you feel like the luckiest person on Earth. The love you feel for your child is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. A pure, unconditional love. When they start calling you MAMA, you feel like you’ve got everything.
But still, that doesn’t mean that parenting comes without its fair share of challenges. And that’s the beauty of it. Highs and lows. Different for every mum and dad out there.
Unique struggles of every parent
All parents I know have their own unique challenges to overcome. Everyone is dealing with different issues on a daily basis. Parenting is hard. For any parent. Full stop. There is no easy way around it.
If you have a good sleeper, you will likely have other issues. There are tons of them; colic, the difficulty of teething, eating (or lack of), tantrums with toddlers. acting out in public, etc. Some kids are more likely to get sick than others, which is always a difficult time for kids and parents alike.
I could be here forever listing all the challenges that come with raising kids. And that’s only the first few years of your child’s life. I’m sure raising teenagers isn’t any easier. Or is it? Any mums of teenagers out there? Give us some hope, please.
Just when you think things are finally improving, you hit another setback. Your baby sleeps well for several months, then all of a sudden it all goes downhill and you are back to square one. You could just kill all those experts writing books on baby’s development, where you read that most babies can sleep through the night by the time they are 6 months old. Really??
Bless my sister. Her boy is 13 months old and still wakes up frequently most nights. When they have a night with ‘only’ 3-4 wakings, it’s party time. Honestly, I have no idea how she still functions.
Sleeping seems to be one of the biggest issues with small children. If it’s not hunger that wakes them up, it could be a nightmare, or they don’t feel well, they are too hot or too cold. Or they wake up for no apparent reason at all. Just like adults wake up during the night. Only small kids still need the comfort of their parents.
Let’s talk about breastfeeding now. Beginnings can be hard, really hard. You can read all about our journey here. But that doesn’t mean that the end of this breastfeeding adventure is any easier.
I remember how upsetting it was when my almost 10-month-old didn’t want to breastfeed anymore. It wasn’t the way I planned it. I wanted to wait till she is at least a year old and then maybe start thinking about quitting. But no. Little E had other plans. I know that’s a bit exaggerated, but at the time, I felt as if she didn’t need me anymore. Rejected, upset. So silly, when I think of it now, but back then my emotions were all over the place.
Now, when I hear other mums (including my sister) saying that they would like to stop breastfeeding but don’t know how, maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that Little E stopped naturally by herself. Luckily, she didn’t have that strong association of being able to fall asleep only when breastfed. That’s the issue many parents have with breastfed babies.
Our biggest problem at the moment is eating (still) and climbing on everything. Our daughter grows quite nicely and is bigger than most kids her age, but still, making her eat a proper meal can be a real struggle sometimes. At times we are lucky if she manages a couple of spoons. She eats her favourite food one day, only to reject it the next. Up and down, all the time. My little nephew, on the other hand, eats almost anything you put in front of him. Veggies are no problem, something we can still only dream about with Little E.
I’ve previously written about having a toddler who loves climbing, so I’m not going into much detail with this one. Let’s just say that the more skilled at climbing she becomes, the more adventurous she becomes as well. It’s like she’s testing her limits constantly to see how high she can get or what other objects she can climb. She’s become a real pro at moving chairs and objects she wants to climb around. You just never know, what she’s going to come up with next. Definitely no time to rest for this mama.
Not every moment is enjoyable
After doing this parenting thing for 18 months, I can honestly say that not every moment is enjoyable. Not even close. Parenting is tiring, frustrating, it’s a 24/7 job, small kids demand your constant attention. Newborns want to be held, toddlers want to hold your finger with their little hand and just drag you around wherever they want to go.
Even when you think you can entertain them with a little bit of screen time, it’s no fun, until mummy sits right next to them. So forget about catching up on some housework or just having some time alone without the whinging from the little one. They just want you to be there with them. ALL THE TIME.
Parenting is a lot harder than most of us have envisioned. We don’t know when it will get better, but it will get better eventually. It has to get better.
That very same day when you became a parent, your life has changed probably beyond all recognition, but it’s important to remind ourselves that we are not alone on this journey. Every single parent is going through the challenges of parenting. They might not be the same for all of us, but they are there. All parents will struggle at one point or another.
Some find the newborn stage easier than handling toddlers and vice versa. You just have to believe in yourself, believe in your abilities that you can do this. If you are a struggling parent at the moment, take a deep breath, take one day at a time. You ARE doing great. You ARE the best parent for your child.
And here’s one last thing. Remember that the rewards of parenting are well worth all the sacrifices we have to go through every single day.
And if you are a parent, who has gone through this stage already, you are welcome to share some tips that have helped you overcome some of the difficulties.