Sigh. I’ve been so anxious for my kids to get older, I forgot to enjoy what I’m now realizing was the sweet spot. The sweet spot occurs between the years of 6 and 11, give or take a year or two depending on your kid.
Why is 6-10 the sweet spot? Well, by the time a kid is six, he/she can probably do all of the following:
- eat independently
- wash his/her own hands
- wipe his/her own nose and bum
- shower/bathe with minimal assistance
- ride a bike
- dress him/herself
- brush his/her own teeth
- comb his/her own hair
- do some small household chores
- make his/her own bed
- sometimes control his/her emotions (read = fewer tantrums)
- go to bed by about 8:30 (thereby leaving parents four delicious hours of uninterrupted kidfree time = bliss)
- you get the picture . . .
By the time a kid is 11, the sweet spot is pretty much done—or temporarily on hold—because he/she probably:
- needs you to drive him/her from hell to breakfast—multiple times a day, every day
- needs you to manage the homework process
- sends and receives an insane number of text messages, leaving you to question his/her ability to sustain an actual face-to-face conversation
- needs you to drive him/her from hell to breakfast (I already said this, huh?)
- needs you to sign all sorts of papers
- needs you to give him/her money on a daily basis
- does not control his/her emotions (read = more tantrums)
- rolls his/her eyes at you and directs huffy breaths (if you’ve ever read Junie B. Jones, you’ll get this; if not, excuse the inside joke) your way on a daily basis
- stays up indefinitely, often wandering into the room where you are at 10:30—just to see what you’re up to (thereby cutting your delicious hours of uninterrupted kidfree time by 50% = uncool)
And the second list gets exponentially worse as soon as they hit high school.
In short, I feel like my job as a parent has been reduced to handing out money and driving the kids around (and I even pay someone to do a lot of the driving since I’m at work). It’s really not that fun. There’s not a whole lot there to enjoy.*
So while I would never choose (yes, I said never) to go back to the < 6 stage, hindsight is teaching me that I should’ve appreciated the sweet spot more. Luckily, I have one kid still there—for one more year.
Here’s to enjoying my final year of the sweet spot.
[*Despite these annoying things, I still prefer my big kids infinitely more than I did when they were babies/toddlers.]