Throughout my journey of motherhood so far, I have come to look at the various stages of development. The types of development that signify change in the family dynamics.
For some this change is a welcome relief for others it may be a time of reflection. It is tinged with some sadness that your young child is growing up. Whatever the emotion, here is my list of what to expect throughout the years.
Stages of motherhood
- The arrival
When we bought our first born home, I remember how quiet the house was. I joked with my husband about having no bell to ring for the nurses to help. We looked at each other and thought – what now? Of course by six weeks my boy had found his lungs. He continued to keep us awake for the next 7 months before he slept throughout the night. The arrival of a new baby is an amazing mix of emotions and changes things up a bit!
For me, this marks the first 12 months. Whether you breast or bottle, introduce solids at 4,5,6 months or longer, the first 12 months for me was all about feeding. Breast and bottle, steaming and mashing food. Finger food and chunky food. Until around 12 months when you can introduce cows milk and don’t need to pay for formula anymore. Formula, bottles and every other food prep item you once needed can now be packed away and life can start to resemble something of what it was before. Your bank balance may adjust for the better, as you are no longer paying for all the added baby items you once needed. You also don’t need to pack a massive baby bag every time you go out. You no longer need to heat up bottles at restaurants or cafes and it all becomes a little easier.
Of course this can vary for everyone. Some kids toilet train earlier than others, but overall from age 2 – 5 years is all about nappies, wet sheets, accidents at the shops or in the car and lots and lots of washing. Not to mention the potty training, sticker charts, bribes and nursery rhymes and all the things you use to try and get your baby to go poo poo. The amount of money you once spent on purchasing nappies every week will now dwindle down and slowly the kids are way more independent.
The first day/week/month/term/year is always interesting. Some kids go off to school with a wave and never look back. Others can cling like life depends on it and teachers need to pull them off you while you make a dash out the door. I have had both options in my time so far. School is a big learning curve for both kids and parents. The kids are finding their way making new friends and learning at a rapid rate. Parents are trying to navigate the school yard, meeting new mums and getting lots of party invitations making the weekends busy. It is such a great novelty making the lunch boxes for the first week or two – then it starts becoming a chore. Stress builds up when you realise that you don’t have any fresh fruit for their lunch box . Not only do you need to ensure a nut free lunch box, but it must also be nude! This is a time of growth and is a massive learning curve for the entire family.
- Car Seats
Car seats are with you from the moment of birth to around 7-8 years old. They now are based on height as opposed to age so the length of time you have car seats can vary. At the start, it is professionally fitted and is a top of the line safety seat which has air bags and all the bells and whistles. By the time they are older, it turns into a cheaper option from Kmart! Food and small toys often get stuck or lost in the cracks in and around the seat. They create marks and dents in the leather or upholstery of the car. Once they are toddlers some kids can drive you crazy by taking their arms out of the harness, requiring the purchase of equipment called a Houdini strap to keep them in. As they get older they learn how to open the entire seatbelt and often do this when you are driving. Not to mention the few times they decide to open the door whilst you are cruising down the street – that is always a fun one! As they age, they grow into these amazing little humans. They are Independent, always have somewhere to go and often look forward to getting out of the car seat as much as you look forward to not having to continue to clip and unclip!
- Technology/peer pressure
From the ages of around 8-12 is when peer pressure and technology come into play. They often already have a few apps they play on the phone or iPad. They learn coding or play on apps at school for their development. Some kids have gaming consoles and play Fortnite or other such game. They usually come home from school exclaiming they “need a phone”. When asked why it is because their friend has one or all their friends have one. This is a time that is confronting as a parent. We all remember what it was like to not be the cool kid or not having the things all our friends had. Not one parent I know wants to deprive their kids the items they need in order to be socially accepted at school, for fear they will be on the outside and become bullied or taunted in some way.
This stage is a mine field. A constant negotiation, not just with your child but with yourself as well.
Once secondary school starts, there is still the constant pressure but then education comes into play. Homework increases rapidly and their accountability for their behaviour and the expectation increases. They feel pressure and are often moody and emotional. They are continuing to learn rapidly and are starting to grow into a young adult. They have pressure from peers, teachers, family and from themselves. By the time they hit exams they can be totally immersed in the pressures society places on young people. They grunt or don’t talk to us parents anymore. It is hard to extract any information about what is going on in their life. You sadly remember a time, when they were young and used to talk to you about everything as you snuggled with them in bed at night.
They are a stranger – who are these kids?
- The future
The future is unknown which can be scary. You hope and pray that the life lessons they have learned along the way will put them in good stead, to ensure they walk a path that is going to lead them into being a happy healthy person. I guess this is the time we let them go. To explore, discover and find themselves and uncover the world around them. Of course this is tough on all parents. But don’t worry – they will be back. They need their mum to do their washing!