1. Lazy lessons How amazing it is to sit in the stands and watch, instead of participating, in kids’ lessons? Avery just started her first solo skating lessons this week and it was heavenly to stand with Sean and wave to her from the sidelines together. (Plus, she did much better without Dad’s hand to grab onto.) I’m thrilled that we’ve officially left the parent-and-tot world behind us.
2. Independence day They can dress themselves and put their laundry in the hamper. They can (sort of) get their breakfast on the table and get their backpacks in order. They don’t need to be reminded to put a hat on before leaving the house and will stand for sunscreen application each day. They can set the table, clear their dishes, and (kinda) tidy their rooms with minimal assistance. They can walk to the park and back and pump themselves high on the swings (well, Avery’s still learning). Anna knows how to work the remote and PVR (which is both a curse and a blessing). Avery in particular is very keen to help with everything — from washing veggies to dusting the living room to unpacking groceries and sorting laundry — and I love it. Almost always.
3. Talk the talk It can definitely get a bit much with two Chatty Cathies in the house who insist on talking on top of each other, but one of my very favourite things about having bigger kids is the conversation. They want to talk about everything and I love hearing all of their new words and ideas. The things they come out with — the hilarious, the insightful, the shocking, the inspirational — show me every day how they’re processing this grand world around them and what kind of people they’re becoming.
4. Teach me It’s fun to teach your kids about more grown-up stuff. They want to understand everything — how electricity gets into our house, what happens to bodies when they die, what “coincidence” means. Anna loves geography and calendars and both girls are always asking what songs on the radio are talking about (ugh). Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say and I’m often reminded of how much I really don’t know. It gives us a chance to find out together. I have to give a plug for this great book I bought from National Geographic called The Little Kids First Big Book of Why. So fun. Ever wondered why your skin wrinkles in the bath, why some hair is curly or how popcorn pops? Bet your kids have. Here’s a book of (simple) answers. My kids love it.
5. Rules shmules I’m all for schedules and routine, but it’s nice to no longer be a slave to them (though I have certainly mourned the departure of Avery’s afternoon nap). There’s something to be said for knowing you can spend the whole day at the zoo, or stay up late for fireworks, or have a TV day or, once in a while, eat ice cream for dinner, without worrying about it totally messing up your kids.
6. Downtime All of this leads to the most wonderful thing about having bigger kids: A little rest. Not a lot — god forbid — but as your kids grow and you’re needed less for all the physical stuff, there’s this gradual realization of, “Hey, I’ve been sitting here for 10 minutes reading a book uninterrupted!” You already know my kids don’t get along the greatest, but they can entertain themselves independently for longer stretches. They can even go out to the front yard ahead of me and I can trust them not to run into the street or take off somewhere. There’s no more hovering over every move the make. I can often sit down! It’s not a big deal for Sean or I to and leave the other — gasp — alone with the kids all night if we have a chance to go out. It’s nice. Freeing, really. And I look forward to all the other upsides this new phase of life will bring.
What are some of your favourite things about parenting older kids?