Stages of Family Life

There are cycles of family life just like every part of life.  It is easy to look back and see how these stages played out in the past, but the trick is to identify the current cycle and set expectations accordingly.

Stages of Family Life - Kids Activities Blog

Family Cycles

My kids are older now.  My youngest is 7 which makes life so much simpler!  In fact, every year since my youngest turned two has gotten easier to manage.  It got me to thinking how life changes.

How motherhood changes.

How our family changes.

Early on, I really put a lot of pressure on myself to provide a clean home, food to eat, fresh laundry, and enriching activities for my baby.

That first year was full of failure.

My baby cried.  A lot.  No matter what I did.

I really tried to clean the house, cook, put a load of laundry in the washer, and stimulate my child with creative play.

The reality was that on most days the house was a wreck, we ate breakfast cereal for dinner, the laundry room was full of piles, and I couldn’t think of ANYTHING creative to do.  That first year was more about survival.

Survival

My expectations were way out of whack with having a baby.  Forget homemade baby food and hand-knit booties.  I was lucky to get a shower.

Once I accepted that my life was about survival, my stress level decreased dramatically.  I was less frantic about what I couldn’t get done and more at peace with it.

Stages of Family LIfe

Maintain

The light seemed to go on exactly on my baby’s first birthday.  Suddenly, he was more accepting of change, sleep and food.  He became more portable and predictable.  I found that showers became daily!  The kitchen got cleaned at least once a day!  The loads of laundry were done {maybe not folded and put away, but done}.  I was able to start going to a play group and story times at the local library and zoo.

I didn’t have extra energy, but making it through the day was manageable.  If my son got sick or the shower leaked into the master bedroom closet, I would slip back down into survival mode.  But all in all, being able to maintain life was doable.

Enrich

Throughout that second year, I inched closer and closer to the next stage of enrichment.  I had energy to think creatively.  I had adult friends.  I could talk about something other than my kid {gasp}!  And on a good week, the clean laundry even made it back into closets and drawers.  I joined a mother’s group.  I went to mommy and me exercise classes.  We painted with finger paints.  We went to the park.

The Cycle Starts Over Again

Just when things were under control, I had baby #2.  The fight for survival through the day began again.  This time it was easier because my expectations were more realistic.  That survival stage only lasted a few months this time.  The maintenance stage lasted until the baby was walking and eating normal food.  Then we were off on our adventures of enrichment!

It wasn’t just the third baby that started the cycle again, there were other things that changed the stage of our family life.  Things like moving, building a house, losing a regular baby sitter, going on a vacation, potty training, having a friend move away, and changing jobs were all significant stresses that caused our family to move down into a lower stage {or two}.  Accepting the reality of what was happening decreased the already stressful situation.

Accepting Where You Are

If you are currently having difficulty getting through the day, then expecting yourself to teach your baby to read is not a good plan!  A more realistic goal would be to get a shower and if the stars are aligned right, take a walk around the block with the stroller.

If you are 8 months pregnant with a second child knowing that the next few months will be challenging, this is NOT the time to potty-train 2-year-old.

No rush!  

Wait until it is manageable.

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