Seasons in parenting

October’s theme for SLM is “seasons.” Autumn woos us with its fiery colors, apple cider, and football (c’mon — who doesn’t want to wear tweed and crunch leaves?).  It’ll be fun to read what’s in store this month for seasons at Bites, Homeschool, Kids, and Organic.  But specifically here on Simple Mom, we’re taking the angle of seasons a bit wider, and discussing something most of us here live through daily — seasons in parenting.

Parenting is the hardest job there is. Period. But what’s weird is that it’s hard — and blissfully rewarding — in different ways, depending on which stage of life your kids are in.

I’ve heard it said that while the early years of parenting are the most physically draining, the teenage years are the most emotionally taxing (help me now). And while those of us with littles enjoy daily block building and slobbery kisses, parents with older kids revel in watching their offspring mature into independent responsible adults.

We parents are in this together, even though we’re in different stages of this gig. It would make sense for us to share the daily wisdom we’re learning in the trenches, both to encourage those in the stage just before us, and to seek counsel from those who’ve already “been there.”

Throughout this fall, you’ll be blessed with a smattering of posts from amazing parents from around the blogosphere. They’ll share the pitfalls and praises of the parenting stage they’re in, and give you hope that the best years, while they can be enjoyed now, are also just ahead of you.

I have a nearing six-year-old, an almost three-year-old, and a four-month-old baby. I’m in the early stages. I don’t have a clue what it’s like to send a daughter off on her first date (and if it were up to my husband, we wouldn’t experience this until she was 21).

So I’ve rounded up some great gals for us to laugh with and cry alongside. I hope you’ll enjoy their words.

Look for posts on what it’s like to parent teens, newborn babies, grammar-school age kids, tweens, preschoolers — and on what it’s like to be left with an empty nest, watching your adult kids build their own.

They’re not experts. They’re just parents, and like us, they have stories to share.

I’m excited about this series. I hope you are, too.

What stage of parenting are you in? What do you love about it? What stage of parenting gives you the hives just thinking about it?

top photo source
Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I have a two-year-old. I dread the day when she stops giggling and starts rolling her eyes.

  2. I have a seven year old and a 13 year old, so I am in a couple seasons. I dread the empty nest season, just thinking about it makes me cry!

    I wrote a post a while back which was actually an “old season” post… when my youngest was a toddler and how time was moving forward. It’s something I think about alot and I try to enjoy each phase we’re in.

  3. I’ve been blogging about this too – I am loving this new season I’m in, which is all new. We sent our oldest off to kindergarten and our youngest to preschool. Suddenly I have Tuesday and Thursday mornings to myself (well, volunteering in his class once a week). It has been great so far!

  4. I’m spread across the board – a mom for all seasons! My youngest is only 8, then an 11-year-old and a daughter nearly 16, and I have 19-year-old and 23-year-old stepsons.
    So while I’m helping my youngest put bandaids on her scraped knees and look for her lost Polly Pocket girlie, I’m praying for my eldest son who is in a stormy relationship and helping the other with advanced driver’s licenses!
    All I can say is that time flies! Grab all the kisses and cuddles you can! (Once they are grown up I have to sneak sloppy kisses at night and when I wake them in the morning !)

  5. I am in the VERY early stage. I have a 2-year-old, a 1-year-old and am expecting baby #3 in 2 months time.

    I love the cheerfulness of my 2-year-old (most of the time!) and listening to her developing language skills. Tonight she was rubbing my (pregnant) tummy and telling me about how “beautiful” it was and how she was “proud of me”. I love my 1-year-old’s enthusiasm and cheekiness and I love feeling my baby-to-be’s squirming in utero.

    To be honest, I am relishing this stage and dreading most of what is to come! I love having preschoolers, spending time with them most of the day, being their biggest influence and having them look up to my husband and I with so much love and awe! I just don’t want this to end.

  6. Really looking forward to this series! Up till now most of the sharing went through twitter or personal blogs, so it’s great to have some very different perspectives and personal stories in one place for a change. Like you Tsh, I’m still in the early stages and find it hard to imagine what my life will look like in 10 years. And as we all know, sometimes fear of the unknown frightens us. No need of course, the best is yet to come!

  7. We are just into a new season – my oldest turned thirteen and I can’t believe it went by so fast!!! Really just yesterday he was a newborn snuggled on my chest. If I blink again he will be twenty-six!!! I just can’t believe how fast it has been… and all I can say is cherish these crazy times with little people they pass so fast!!!

  8. I have an 11 month old. The year has just flown by and we’ve had so much going on in such a short time. An international move, setting up in our old home that needs lots of TLC, but I am enjoying most the opportunity to be at home with my daughter. Ive struggled with the changes but I am beginning to learn to accept this new lifestyle – letting go of being in control and flowing with the seasons.

    Looking forward to this series 🙂

  9. I have a baby (eight months old today) and my husband tried to comfort me the other night after I had had a long, difficult day. He reminded me that our son will go through phases so whatever challenges he’s having one week might be completely different the next week since he’s growing so quickly. Then my mother reminded me to enjoy each of these moments because they go so fast and then they’re gone.

    • Oh so true, Tabitha. It’s funny how with each additional child, I go with the flow more and more. I remember with Tate (our oldest), thinking my life was over, because I was never going to sleep through the night again. And that we were always going to be interrupted with cries, diapers, etc.

      And then I blinked. And now she’s 5. I just dropped her off at school, and I’m at a coffee shop, working. She’s doing sooooo well spreading her wings. It’s fun to watch.

      So with her younger brothers, I’ve been much more, “‘Eh — it’ll pass’ about everything.” Funny how that works.

      Enjoy those moments!

  10. So looking forward to this series! I’m in my early stage of parenting, as well. My almost 4 y/o started school back in June and my would-be 2 y/o just started talking. I’m still getting used to the idea that my daughter now needs to be up early in the morning to go to school and me picking her up and taking her to her grandparents before I go to work. =)

    • I’m getting used to that, too, with a kindergartner. Not having the crazy morning race out the door was one of the major appeals to us homeschooling… It’s quite a change to get used to, eh?

  11. Kat @ InspiredToAction says:

    Oh, this sounds WONDERFUL! I’m really looking forward to it!

  12. Oh, I encourage you moms of young ones to hang on to it with all you can! It won’t be like this for long (as the good ol’ country song says!) Each season brings its own trials and troubles. As for me I have 3 daughters 17, 22, almost 29 and a son almost 20. The oldest is married with 6 kids of her own, my 22 is off on her own, my 20 yo son is in tech school, working part time and spends his time between home and his girlfriends house as they have a month old daughter together (interesting to watch this one unfold!) and my baby girl has already graduated, is going to community college for this year, but will probably go away to fashion college in NYC next year!
    On one hand, the empty nest has never looked so good, on the other I will miss them all so! The good thing is the leaving is gradual. Although driving her to NYC and coming back without her will be pretty drastic!
    Let me just say one more thing. I love having all of them get together! With the young adults and spouses/sig others and grandkids, it is awesome to see them all together, enjoying one another’s company!

    • Thank you for sharing this, Bernice! I know I love my relationships with my siblings, now that we’re all adults and raising our own families. I’m sure my parents enjoy that, and I can totally see how fun that would be to see our kids enjoy each other one day like that.

  13. I have an 11 dd, 9 ds, 5 dd, and 3 dd so I’m a little spread out in parenting seasons. I’m dreading the teenage years, especially with my oldest. We’ve been getting a small look into what the next few years have in store and it’s not pretty! I miss the days of only having preschoolers at home. I thought it was difficult at the time but looking back, it was pretty easy. I love the saying “the days are long and the years short”. That sums it up pretty well!

  14. Lark Terry says:

    I have a nine month old little girl and a 2 year old boy (just turned 2 today!). My two year old is on the go and into everything, which is typical. He has a great personality but is also very “strong-willed”. I feel though that I am going through a good phase right now as I am seeing more and more of the discipline and training for our little guy take affect. He is really beginning to listen and obey much more which is wonderful because my little girl is starting to test her limits here and there. She is still such a good baby as was her brother at that age…I am very blessed! Working through these rough phases is hard at times and I can get discouraged, but I have wonderful parents and in-laws who try to share wisdom and provide some guidance. There are times I would love to quickly pass through some of these seasons, but then I realize they’re growing up and I’ll never get to experience this time with them again which of course makes me cry!! I think that is what I dread the most even more so than anticipating any particular stage with my kids. I want to make the most of my time with my kiddos now and embrace the challenges that come our way with a positive out-look, knowing that God will bless all our efforts to train our kids right!!

  15. I have an almost nine year old and a ten year old. Because my boys are just over a year apart I’ve always been in the same parenting season with them. But I’m also the first of all my friends and family to have kids, by quite a few years, and I long for the wisdom of someone who’s been through this before. I do have our parents, of course, but times are different now. I look forward to reading from someone who’s parented my age group already.

  16. Tsh, this is great of you to do. I am excited to read what these contributors have to say.

    I find that most of what appears here on SM is related to parenting the early stages, as that is where you and most of the regular contributors are at with life. I’d love to hear from some more experienced moms. I often skip the parenting related posts here because they mostly don’t relate to me as the mother of a 7, 9 & 11 year old.

    I’ve done the baby & toddler years and my current parenting years are easier in some respects (I sleep well every night) but challenging in other ways (the pace of life seems to pick up). But overall this time feels like the golden years between the physically intense years of preschoolers and emotionally intense years of adolescence. Though I do find these years to be intellectually intense as I plan and execute our educational goals for our children.

    I have enjoyed this current stage the most. Though when I had babies I loved that too.

    Honestly, I am looking forward to our kids’ young adult years because I have invested my life for the past 11 years laying a foundation with our kids that we trust we carry us through the natural ups and downs of those years. We have lots of exciting plans for how we want to live with young adults in the house – travel, adventure, home business opportunities, helping them all we can to reach their goals.

    We talk about it often as a family and we are very excited about the next stage of parenting – when we will start to launch these beautiful children into the world and watch them soar.

    Gives me happy goosebumps just writing about it…

    • Thank you for saying this, Renee. Actually, it’s been on my mind awhile to bring in more seasoned parents here at SM, mostly because… well, I only know what I’ve lived through so far, right? And that goes up to 5 years. Not much.

      I’ve heard your stage of parenting described as “the golden years” as well. Something about the fact that they can go potty by themselves, generally meet all their physical needs, and yet they still want to spend all kinds of time with you and even cuddle sometimes… Sounds blissful. 🙂

  17. I am looking forward to this series. not many blogs that I read focus on older kids, I’ve assumed its more of a privacy issue and respecting their kids. But my oldest is 11 now and the next is 9 so the time is coming. he is already hitting puberty and i would love to read about how others are dealing with these issues.

  18. I really look forward to reading these posts. And it is great to read all the wonderful comments.

    I have a 7yo DD and 3yo DS. I love them both. Sometimes they surprise me with the depth of their love for me, my husband, and each other. My son will come up and tell me he loves me and wrap his arms around me. My daughter doesn’t think twice about curling up on my lap to snuggle. For me every single day is amazing. I watch them grow physically, mentally, and emotionally. I am constantly in awe that my DH and I creating these two incredible beings. And I know the path forward will continue to be incredible.

    Now I am not saying this has always been easy, We all have our ups and downs but overall still wonderful.

  19. No children for me just yet, but I’m really looking forward to this series so that when we do start our own little family, I’ll have a little bit better perspective on all that is to come thanks to the wisdom from all these ladies. It sounds like a great series!!

  20. My son isn’t quite two, and he’s already starting to assert himself a little and challenge us. I’ve always been proud of how smart he is, but I didn’t realize that would bring this stage on a little early. lol What surprises me, though, is that I still like him at the end of even the most trying day. Before I became a parent, I thought that would be hard. I figured I’d always LOVE the kid, while liking him might be hard. Parenthood is surprising!

  21. I am really looking forward to this series, Tsh!

    We’re spanning from the stages of one in still in diapers to a preschooler to one in 3rd grade here (also known as the beginning of the “eyeroll” years I believe, LOL)

    There are nearly 5 years between my firstborn and my middle child and it was amazing to me both how much I forgot about newborns in that period of time and also how much more relaxed and less intimidated I was – I had so much more confidence in my mothering and it makes a difference to have that glimpse of the future and knowing that things will turn out okay.

    Now, as we are nearing the tween and teen years with my oldest, and I find myself once again wondering what is ahead and how to best navigate those changes … uncharted territory, but an adventure I’m looking forward to!

    So I’m very interested in hearing both from those in my currents stages and also from parents who are further along the path.

    Have a wonderful weekend, my friend! 🙂

  22. My daughter turns 12 on the 18th of this month, so we are in the lovely “tween” stage! Looking forward to reading what other moms of tweens are dealing with and how they’re dealing with it.

  23. it is so important to enjoy the benefits and fun parts of each stage- and endure with love the difficulties of each stage.

  24. Nice post! I am looking forward to this series

  25. Herbwifemama says:

    I have a 4.5 year old and a 4 month old. No one prepared me for the pain I’d feel when my daughter came to this age- even though she’s homeschooled, there’s still some kind of separation happening. Maybe it has to do with the new baby, I don’t know.

  26. I had to comment on the photo! It’s gorgeous! I know the post is good too, but the photo of those colored leaves is stunning. That one should be in a calendar or something! Where did you get it, or did you take it yourself?

  27. As a full time working mother of a toddler (15 month old), I had no clue how hard it would be to be a parent and work full time. Being a parent is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. Being a mother over 40 makes things a little harder too-I don’t have the same energy I used to.

  28. I have a 4.5 and a newly 2 year old both boys. I LOVE watching them learn and grow at this age. It seems that everything is a learning experience, they are always finding something NEW in the world. It is also the trenches of character training and discipline. I long for a time when I don’t feel like I’m spending 100% of my day in correction but I relish this time as well. My boys always want to be with me and near me, something I’m sure to miss when they are locked behind bedroom doors as teens

  29. I’ve been thinking about this a ton lately, too. Time passing is so bittersweet. We’ve only been parents for just over two years, and have an 8 year old, 4.5 year old, and a 17 month old. We’re still sleep deprived all the time, but also trying to help our eldest maintain her confidence and withstand peer pressure. It can get confusing bouncing back and forth between all the ages!

  30. I guess I am no longer in the early stage because my oldest of four is a tween, and then they go down to the youngest at two years. I am nervous about the teen years. I find my daughter is very emotional and it is all head struggles with her now so I worry how she will be once actually a teen! I love this stage because I have energy! The kids are young enough to still like and trust me easily and old enough to not be such a physical burden on me. I can honestly say this is a fabulous stage to be in!

  31. Chrissy N. says:

    yay! this will be great…!

  32. I’m with you in the early stages with a 4 year old boy and 1 year old (::gasp:: not a baby!) girl. I think the hardest part about this stage is a toss up between potty training the preschooler and dealing with the climbing monkey / daredevil girl who knows NO fear!

    There are definitely pitfalls to every stage – it all starts with sleeplessness when they are newborns (gee, I’m still waiting for the sleeplessness to end actually – do we ever get a full nights sleep again?) and then gradually as one area starts to get better, new problems arise. You are so right – we should all be supporting each other throughout these stages because none of them are easy even when they are wonderful!

    • “(gee, I’m still waiting for the sleeplessness to end actually – do we ever get a full nights sleep again?) ”

      My mom says never. I’m 26, married for 7 years and have 2.5 kids of my own and she says she still has sleepless nights thinking/worring/wondering about me.

      That warms my heart…..

  33. I’m still in the early stages with two four year olds and a three year old.

  34. I’m looking forward to some very insightful and interesting reading coming up. I am the dad to a 2 year old boy, 7 (10 days to 8) year old daughter and a 10 year old daughter.

    I think one of the biggest challenges with parenting is our own expectations.

  35. This sounds like a great idea! My husband and I have an 8 month old and have started trying to get pregnant again. We’re treading our way through this beginning parenting stage, making mistakes and messes, triumphing over mealtime while struggling with bedtime. It’s wonderful and scary and we wouldn’t give it up for the world. We love our Emmaline, and she loves us.

  36. I have every stage going on right now (19,17,15,12,8, and yes, 2!) and I would love to read an article about the joys of having that last hanger-onner when the others are older. I have met so many people who have one last little joy. Although I sometimes find it difficult juggling a baby when the others have so much going on, I am happy when I see my seventeen-year-old, six-foot-tall boy bouncing his little sister on his shoulders and laughing with her. I am so glad we had her when I see my older children learning how to care for her. I think this will make it easier for them when they become parents. And oh, the entertainment value! I’m not sure what we did for entertainment when we didn’t have our little toddler!

  37. I am super excited about this series. I have a 3-month-old. So I would say I am in the very very early stage. I honestly did not find the first 2 months rewarding at all. It was absolutely awful. But now he is sleeping through the night and usually only crying when something is actually wrong, and laughing a lot. The laughter is very rewarding.

  38. I cried reading THIS post… how am I ever going to make it through the posts to come?

    I have a 4 year old who thinks she’s 21, a 10 month old who desperately wants to be a big kid and a “surprise” baby due in 5 months.

    Needless to say it’s been an interesting season and I can’t wait to read the upcoming posts.

    • Jeana told me about this blog… I love it!

      I was just asking the other day for some parenting advice from moms of “older” children… not preschool and not teens, but that in-between stage. I love it, but I feel a little lost. My children are 9, 8, and 5. I’ve never NOT had a baby or preschooler around and feel like I’ve suddenly been given a new responsibility that I’m not prepared for! I’m looking forward to reading more. 🙂

  39. Can’t wait to read these. With my 12-going-on-13, 11, 6, and 4-year olds as well as an 18 month old, I feel like I’m spanning several seasons at once. That sometimes makes it tricky to really focus in on the season one child’s in. The older kids require so much more concentrated focus (just a few hours each evening to help them get their homework done, pursue extracurricular interests, refine–er–develop some table manners, etc; all the while I’ve got a toddler girl still throwing stuff in the toilet. It can be a very tricky juggling act at times, figuring out how to meet everyone’s needs and operate for the good of the unit!

  40. As I read thru some of the posts, a common statement was that mom’s couldn’t imagine their little ones all grown up and gone. I was that way too when I had littles. I would hug them and kiss them and wish they would never grow up until the teen years. Although those years were trying at times, I enjoyed watching them change and become more independent. The best part of parenting is the season I am in right now…married adult kids. I have a seventeen year old daughter at home, but the other three boys are married and I have one beautiful grandaughter. Grandkids are better than kids. We have a great time when we get together. It is fun to listen to them and hear their opinions. You will still worry about your kids but in a different way. You know they have to make their own way and learn their own lessons. We give advice (only when asked), they either take it or leave it. My husband and I often comment on how we see ourselves in them, when we were young and first married. The best part is watching them with their own kids and loving every bit of payback they are getting. (I mean that in a loving joking way.) I can also reflect back on the years of raising children and better understand my own parents ( they said I was worse than five kids, so I am sure they loved my payback.)

  41. this is so awesome. i am soooooo glad you are doing this. i have a 2 and 3 year old and must admit that i’m dreading the teenage years.

  42. Denise C. says:

    I’m looking forward to the series! I have a 4 y.o. boy & a 2 y.o. girl. While they are both great kids, they can also be quite a challenge at times. YIKES!

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