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My Kids Are Getting Older and It's Not Getting Easier

Photograph by Twenty20

There was a time when I dreamed about my kids getting older so that I could get more done.

You know, things like actually taking a long shower or finishing a complete thought or writing the next great American novel (of course). But now that my kids have finally reached those magical ages of "big kids," when they are young enough to still like us and old enough to play independently, I am finding something really surprising about my days as a mom to older kids:

I am somehow actually less productive than I was when they were little.

I know, it's crazy, right? So, what gives? Why in the world am I getting less done these days than I did when my kids were super little? Here are my theories:

1. The pressure is off

When I was a new mom, I was driven by this all-consuming drive to do as much as possible to prove that I was a good mom. I thought that if I could pull off having a successful career and launch a new business and write a book and run a half-marathon and still make playdates, that I would prove to myself and to the world that I was a "good mom."

But nowadays? I know that's a bunch of crap. I know now that value is not based on how much I can do or that I'm not being silently judged as a mom based on how well I can "have it all." I've taken some of the pressure off of myself and as a result, I'm working at a far less frantic pace these days. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

And, basically, my life was over.

2. I know how fast it really goes

Yup, I went there. I said the dreaded face that all moms drowning in the trenches dread hearing. But it's true: The baby, toddler and preschool years have zoomed by for me and I'm closer to the years of tampons and training bras than I am diapers anymore, so it's getting really real, really fast.

I know my time is limited and precious with my kids, especially in these magical "between" years when they still kiss me goodbye to go to school and want to cuddle on the couch, so I'm soaking it all up while I still can.

3. I'm exhausted in a totally different way

You've probably heard this before from older moms who talk about how bigger kids just mean bigger problems. I hate to admit it, but it's true. While there's nothing that can quite be compared to the physical, soul-depleting exhaustion of the newborn, breastfeeding, colic and mastitis stages, the exhaustion of parenting big kids is still uncharted territory for me and thus, it's taking me some time to adjust.

4. Nap time is gone forever

For almost eight years straight, nap time was the most precious part of my day and nothing could interfere with it. And then, right around my fourth child's 2nd birthday, she stopped napping. And, basically, my life was over.

I didn't even realize how much I needed that break during my day, not only to get necessary work tasks done, but as a way for me to recharge and get a break from my kids. Now, it's just a relentless march through the day. Oh, and fitting a full 8-hour workday into a good two-hour nap time stretch and now? Ha. That’s gone too.

Although I may not be the productive mom of older kids I once thought, I’m hoping that I can learn to adjust to this new season of parenthood without nap time and find a good balance once again. I could be wrong, but something tells me the secret involves more coffee.

Because, let's be honest, coffee is always the answer.

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