Do parents of older kids really miss the toddler years?

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

Confession time. As a parent of kids aged 14, 12 and six I can categorically state that I do not miss the toddler years. 

I did it three times and we have moved on. Been there, done that, and trust me, have written the equivalent of several books about it.

Do I look at photos of their toddler selves and miss their oblivious innocence to the world? Do I miss pretending to eat that chunky leg as they belly laugh infectiously as only toddlers do?

Do I miss the time before crazy sport schedules, teen attitude and serious homework?

Absolutely, yes I do miss some of the essence of those times, but not for anything would I ever want to return to them. Not even for 7 pm bedtimes. Not even for those sticky kisses and hand dimples.

Two out of three of mine were hellcat toddlers and frankly they're lucky they're still alive with all the hijinx they got up to.

The truth is that I love having an almost adult conversation with my teenager I love that he takes himself to the park to play basketball and that I can send him to the shops for bread and milk.

We've worked something out with his attitude whereby I laugh affectionately at him being completely unreasonable and he starts laughing too. It works and he's quite lovely, even if it took some rocky times to get to this place.

Watching my 12-year-old grow out of the challenges he has faced, overcome them and excel is just so rewarding. I used to look at him as a baby - a bit of an enigma even then - and wonder who he'd be, and now I know.


Even the soon-to-be-seven-year-old is showing increased independence lately and that my friends, feels bloody fantastic. The age of being able to reason with a small human is a delight to behold.

It's a question asked on Reddit, that has parents of older kids responding in droves about how they really feel about the passing of the toddler years.

A mother of a "clingy" two-year-old who will not let her out of her sight has aired her feelings of "suffocation" - which many of us have been through - and asks others to weigh in on whether she will really miss these years.

She writes, "I know it's temporary and won't last forever, which is why I'm not too stressed over it. But anytime I say anything like "I can't wait until she's older and more independent", people always just say 'Oh trust me you'll miss this when she's a teenager and hates you!' So is it true? Will I miss these years when she's older?"

One person replies emphatically, "I have 3 teenagers. It is so so so much better than the toddler years."

Another writes, "Once in a blue moon I miss the snuggles you only got from a sleepy one to two-year-old, but that's about it. (Mum of two teens)"

And another echoes my thoughts exactly. "There are aspects of the toddler years that I reflect fondly on now that I have a teenager, but I don't miss that stage as a whole. I really appreciate that both she and I can use the bathroom without any interaction from the other, along with a host of things that make watching your baby turn into a good and interesting human so much fun."

A few though, say they were blessed during the toddler years.

"For my family, the teen years were the absolute worst. We had four girls and the attitude, answering back, screaming matches were far worse than the toddler years. I guess we are one of the rare ones... we had it pretty easy when they were toddlers."

"I loved having little kids. I'd happily house a pile of toddlers over teenagers. Little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems. Little ones are physically exhausting, big kids are mentally exhausting."

True that. 

I honestly can't say I'm not tired still. Just not that bone-tired, passing out kind of tired after a long week with a pair of toddlers.

The mental exhaustion of keeping older kids engaged, active, polite, educated, healthy and well-rounded is really something else, requiring long-haul stamina and the skills of a CEO.

Looking through the responses on the Reddit thread is interesting and most indicate a level of wisftfulness for some aspect of their kids being tiny, especially those with challenging teens.

Overall the most popular age group seems to be the eight to 12 tweens - oh and fully-grown adults - meaning there's a lot to look forward to, encouragingly.

One thing is universal, however; that parenthood is one hell of a ride.