It’s an old adage that most parents hear many times “They grow up so fast” and when the children are small it seems like we are so busy parenting 24/7 that we often feel a break would be welcome. However, as a mum of two grown up daughters, I can confirm that they do grow up too fast and when the times comes for them to fly the nest, it’s much harder to cope with than having to be “on it” every single second of every day! Those early years really are to be cherished – you get to spend time playing with and teaching your children and this really can be the best time of your life.
During the early, pre-school years, parents get used to being with their little ones for most of the time (especially those lucky enough to be able to choose to stay at home and raise the children). We take them around to parent and toddler groups, soft play, swimming classes, etc. Family days out are geared around what is best for the children – city farms, walks in the woods, picnics on the beach or in the park – all great ways to have fun as a family.
Once your little one starts school, he will begin to develop a sense of independence. He will make new friends and meet new people. Very often his teacher will become the adult that he looks up to and adores (and listens to and believes) which is a charming part of the early school years. As he develops new friendships (and a new sense of himself), he will be taking part in activities with other children, going out for tea in a friend’s home, going to sleepovers and birthday parties.
During secondary school years, there will undoubtedly be school trips which will take him away for a day (or even a week) at a time, visiting new places with his classmates and friends – this is all part of growing up.
The teenage years will see your child slipping away even faster as he gets to the stage where he is old enough and responsible enough to go out on his own. Although this may be a worrying time for parents, we have to let them go – we just need to know that they are safe and will phone home for help or a lift home when necessary.
Then comes the dreaded day when your child leaves home – either to go away to university/college or just to share a flat with friends. This can be a particularly difficult time for parents – it feels as if we’re losing our children and we look back fondly on those days when they were toddlers and needed us every minute of the day (despite the fact that during those times we were probably wishing we could have a break now and again!).
However, our children eventually become parents themselves and now is the time when they will turn back to Mum and Dad for help and advice as they become the ones who are so busy looking after baby that they never get a minute to themselves. This is the time when our lives as parents come full circle and we can enjoy their babies and toddlers during the early years, offering help where it’s needed. All of a sudden, we have a new set of little ones we can have fun with (and these little ones can be given back to the parents at the end of the day).