Raising Toddlers As an Older Mom Is Worth It
I thought my life might be over. I’d just discovered I was pregnant again at age 41; my son was only six months old. For many years, I struggled with infertility, so my son was a huge blessing, but in a short amount of time, motherhood’s tribulations became apparent. I wanted another child, just not so soon.
My daughter arrived a few months later. Her calmness was the opposite of my son’s wildness. Still, I struggled. Even though I had desired children, nothing prepared me for mothering a one-year-old and a newborn at the same time. At times I thought I would never survive the long nights.
I worried that being an older mom wasn’t a great idea. But you can’t really confess that to anyone without feeling guilty or worrying about judgment. Some days I forgot to shower. Instead I hid in the bathroom and ate candy bars. Breast milk and chocolate stained my clothes.
Then my babies become toddlers.
My kids run in opposite directions, making it hard to keep track of them. My son’s idea of walking is jumping. My daughter will only wear her red cowboy boots, even on hot summer days. I cannot eat breakfast without one sitting on my lap and the other draped over my shoulders. Both demand one more bite of my toast.
Still, I know my kids are worth the struggle.
As an older mom, having kids gave my life meaning. Before motherhood, I lived feeling as if a big part of me was missing. Now I’m exhausted, yet I feel young. Without these two anchors in my life, I would have never have reached my full potential of balancing work as a college instructor, freelance writer, as well as a mom. I would never have learned the following lessons along the way.
Rely On Your Wisdom
You spent years gaining experience, building your confidence, and cultivating patience. It no longer matters if everyone likes you or if you like them. When the critics have something to say about my parenting, I shrug it off.
When I was younger, time seemed to last forever. If something went wrong, the feeling stayed with me for weeks. I obsessed about every little incident. Now I understand that even when it seems both kids will be vomiting forever, tomorrow will come.
A Schedule is Key
As an older, working mom, managing two toddlers takes a consistent schedule. Research shows that kids love an agenda too. If your toddlers are like mine, keeping set activities and a strict sleep schedule will make days more manageable.
Make Time For Yourself
When I was a younger mom, I put everyone before myself. Now as an older mom, I try to make it to at least one Pilates class a week on Zoom. I feel guilty for taking the time, but exercise helps me manage stress. Then when I’m done, my toddlers pummel me with kisses. When I’m worried about finances, I work out with free fitness classes online. Perhaps your partner or a friend will watch the kids while you take a break.
Try Not to Give Into Intensive Parenting
Since I grew up in a time of free-range parenting, I resist intensive parenting. The current parenting style pressures parents into sacrificing all available time and energy in raising children. While I love my children completely, my goal is to find a balance between independence and closeness. For example, I encourage quiet time every day. Even toddlers need to learn that mommy can’t play with them all the time.
Find One or Two Good Mom Friends Your Age
Lately, there’s been lots of talk about the absence of a mom village. Social media can make you feel so alone when the requirement is 500 best friends. However, having just two close girlfriends going through the same challenges helps me manage motherhood. We share parenting tips, struggles, and complaints. If time is short, plan a date to connect while your kids play. Or better yet travel together.
Since older moms may lack young grandparents nearby, securing a ready-made babysitter can be hard. Try exchanging babysitting services with your friends for a date night or an hour away.
Try Not to Compare Yourself to Others
When you become an older mom, your friends might have already raised children or started a second career. When I scan social media, most of my friends from high school have posted pictures of their children heading off to college or their grandchildren’s birth announcements. Some discuss early retirement. I’m thinking I’ll be lucky to retire at 70.
This might be discouraging, but remember you are in the right place at the right time.
I would like to say that my children are now all grown up, and I’m sleeping in again. I would like to tell you that I’m not writing this while hiding in the bathroom, eating chocolate. What I can tell you is that being an older mom is worth the struggle—even when you’re smack in the middle of it.