When I first became a parent, I found caring for a new little baby intense! Babies need you for almost everything. You’re constantly feeding, soothing, bathing, dressing, wrapping, nappy changing, and much much more.
There were times when I thought I would never again be able to sit and finish a cup of tea or have a conversation without interruption or get a full night’s sleep. I thought this is my life now. That’s it.
But of course as our children grow, they change. The feeding, soothing, and nappy changing give way to cooking, tidying up toys, and reading bedroom stories.
Our children change and so must we. That’s the big picture. But it’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day details of raising our children, and forget the big picture.
That’s why, every so often, it’s worthwhile reflecting on what we no longer do for our children. My children are now school age so my list looks something like this:
I no longer
Sit for an hour feeding my baby
Get up 3 times a night for feeds
Wrap and rewrap my baby
Rock back and forth on the spot
Wipe a high chair clean 10 times a day
Strap a wriggly toddler into the car seat
Deal with the after-effects of toilet training
Deal with a toddler who is lying on the floor kicking and screaming
Wash or bath my children
Dress my children
And there are many more …
This tells me two things
Firstly, no stage we’re going through with our children lasts. It may be intense, but it is temporary. Our children will grow and develop and we’ll soon be onto the next stage.
Secondly, as our children grow we can also expect more of them. We can expect them to do more for themselves, and to contribute more around the house.
At the beginning of the year, I sat down with my kids and we made up a jobs chart. They now help with the dishwasher, pack their own lunches, vacuum, mop, pack their own bags, and much more.
At every stage, we do things for our children to love and support them. But what we do changes. Thinking back on what we no longer do for our children, helps us to realise how far they and we have come.
What do you no longer do for your children?
Jodie Benveniste is a psychologist, parenting author and the director of parentwellbeing.com. Jodie helps parents look after themselves and love family life!