5 Ways Toddlers Are Easier Than Teens


Oh, mommies. I read so many blog posts and articles about the trials and tribulations of raising toddlers. And YES, oh sweet 18-month-old Jesus, YES they are all spot on: having a toddler (or two) at home is kind of like having the most obnoxious, handsy, drunk frat guy at the party living with you 24/7. Parenting the two, three and four year olds deserves its own special child-proofed circle in Hell some days.

But let me tell you something, ladies. There will come a day when you look back on these years with something that feels like wistfulness. A longing, even.

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Because that pea-soup spewing, head spinning, chicken nugget-clutching abomination in the car seat behind you is going to be a teenager some day.

And then things get really fun.

I can’t write something like this without first pointing out the merits of teens. They are a wonder to behold. Watching your own little flesh and blood bundles navigate the treacherous teens transports you back in time. You get to relive your teen years, good or bad. Every single thing you did as a teenager comes back to either haunt you or to give you fodder for speeches and diatribes and guilt trips to lay upon your own teen.

You can have actual conversations with teenagers, which can be cool. They can do things like drive and tie their own shoes and use the stove without supervision. Most of them are adept at personal hygiene and rarely need help in that area, except when they scream from the downstairs bathroom that they need a towel.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my teens. Which is good, because at the moment, I have four of them living under my roof. We have some good times, the five of us. We have interesting debates, we watch The Walking Dead together, some days our coexistence feels a lot like harmony.

But the past few weeks have been a doozy. I’ve gone apeshit with my teens for being…well, for being teens. The low point was the night I spent an hour driving around like a tourist in the dark, trying to find the restaurant my 17-year-old daughter and her friends needed to be picked up from. My girl called and whined, “OMG mom, we’ve been waiting, like, forever! When will you be here?” I screamed back: “I CAN’T FIND THE MOTHER-EFFING RESTAURANT!” I heard muffled teenage giggles and realized with a hot, shameful horror that I was on speaker.

Yep. I’m that mom. The spastic f-bomb dropping one. In my defense, I’m also the one who always lets the kids have oodles of friends sleep over and I provide donuts in the morning. Bacon if I’m feeling generous. That redeems me, right?

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But a few mornings ago, I got to thinking of my kids as they used to be. I actually got moist eyes thinking about my restaurant-going daughter as a toddler. She’d wear these stretchy knit headbands all the time, so that she looked like a mini-John McEnroe. She loved wearing her older brother’s training pants and we’d often leave the house with her wearing Batman undies beneath a sparkly tutu. She was obsessed with backpacks, so much so that I took to calling her “Packy” and at any given moment she’d have one strapped to her back, stuffed with toddler treasures.

I then remembered her tantrums. I remembered the poopy pants and the croup and the sibling rivalry and the endlessssss bedtimes.

But still…for just a moment, I kind of wished I still had toddlers. And I came up with a few reasons why TODDLERS TOTALLY TRUMP TEENS:

1. SLEEPING: I’m sure you’ve heard of the book “Go the F*ck to Sleep“. Get ready for the teen version I’ll be writing called “Get the F*ck Up, You’ll Miss the Bus”. Seriously. These people sleep like vampires. Sure, no more being awakened by two scary eyeballs peering at you from the side of the bed at 5:00 a.m., but waking a teenager is kind of like reenacting “A Weekend At Bernie’s”. God help you.

2. INAPPROPRIATE USE OF TOILETRIES: Oh it’s so funny when Junior gets into your lipstick or maxi pads and makes an adorable mess. Sometimes you take pictures of them and post it on Instagram. But get ready for the waves of nausea when you find your good bottle of body lotion under your teen son’s bed. Alongside two dozen wadded up tissues. You won’t be so quick to post those pictures, my friends. I learned this one the hard way: HIDE THE EXPENSIVE LOTION, LADIES!  Suave and St. Ives from here on out.

3. HOMEWORK: Your toddler has none. Boom. Teens have a lot of homework and while you may not be asked to help out with it as they get older, you will certainly have to hear them bitch and moan about doing it.  And you might have to run damage control when it’s 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday night and they magically remember that they have a ginormous project/paper/4-course meal to prepare for culinary class. I actually lived through the 4-course meal thing. Thank God for a best friend who can cook like a boss and who doesn’t even blink when you call her, sobbing, and ask if she can “HELP US MAKE A FOUR COURSE MEAL” at 10:04 p.m. on a Sunday night.

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4. AXE BODY SPRAY: You think you’re sick of smelling poo and pee and sour milk and ketchup? Just wait.

5. SLEEPING (YES, AGAIN):  When you have babies and toddlers, you want to sleep but you can’t. When you have teens, you finally can sleep but you don’t want to. Because teens go out. Without you! And sometimes, you don’t know exactly where they are, or who they’re with. Out of sight definitely DOES NOT mean out of mind when it comes to being the parent of a teenager. Out of sight means your imagination goes into overdrive and every worst case scenario unfolds in your head with ugly clarity. Visions of abductions and choking are now replaced with nightmares about drinking and drugs and sex. You don’t mentally exhale until you touch base with your teen/baby.

You will never know the true power of texting until you get the one that says, “Hi mom, we’re fine. On our way home.” Or even the one that says “U totes need 2 chill, mom.”

Those are just five ways toddlers are easier than teens. Now, we could flip this around and go all Opposite Day and say Oh yeah, Jenny? Here’s how teens are easier! They can talk! They don’t crap their pants! They don’t crawl into bed with you and lose control of their bladder! They don’t need their hot dogs cut into non-lethal bite-size chunks! They don’t cry at Target! They don’t wear snowsuits! They don’t go boneless and refuse to move in the middle of your Mommy and Me class, the one with the perfect women who silently judge your sub-par parenting!

And you know what? We’d be right. Having kids is hard. It doesn’t matter if your charges are tiny and have soft little feet or if they tower over you and sometimes startle you with their man-voices.


Just different kinds of hard, that’s all. And here’s a little secret for you, something I think about when my four teens are all seemingly conspiring to make me insane:

If you look hard enough, you can still see your toddler. It might be the curve of a cheek, it might be the way they twist their hair, it might be the way they sleep with their mouth open and one hand curled up near their face (yes, it’s okay if you sneak a peek at your snoozing teens, people…just not when they have friends over. Or in their dorm rooms.). You will glance at your beautifully awkward teen and the toddler they used to be will jump out of nowhere and shout “BOO! I’m still in here, mommy! Miss me??”

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And when you do get that glimpse of what once was framed so beautifully in what is yet to be? It takes your breath away. In that glimpse you begin to understand what all of those annoying-but-well-meaning old mamas are trying to say when they blather on about how fast time flies, and how we should enjoy it while it lasts.

For a fleeting moment, you see the gorgeous, bright arc of parenting. Its beauty is often hidden under layers of monotony and stress and life…but it’s there. And it’s bigger than you could ever imagine.

So, here’s to all of us and our sometimes-impossible children, big and small. May they always keep us tired and worrying and cleaning…

and loving.

About the writer

Jennifer Ball is a writer, a mom and a dog person who used to have really pretty feet. Her work appears sporadically on her blog, Happy Hausfrau, and has been featured on The Huffington Post, The Today Show, Family Circle magazine and in the Listen To Your Mother anthology published by Putnam in April 2015. When not working at her full-time job or trying desperately to keep up with her TV shows, she enjoys drinking martinis and following drama in comment sections. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There’s also a really good chance you can find her at either Target or Costco.


Colleen 11 months ago

Thanks for the laugh, when I needed the laugh. I love ’em, but I wanna kill ’em. This reminded me I am not crazy.

StrongerMe 1 year ago

Yes. Amen. Preach it, Sister.
Just to warn you, there is a VERY good chance that I will share your every post about raising teens on facebook, since I’ve already shared the very first two that I read. I also might write a blog post completely dedicated to thanking you for these posts.
Misery loves company. I like to know that I’m not the only one that gave birth to angels that have turned into the Spawn of Satan with the onset of puberty. (Really the change occurred when the mean woman at the DPS allowed them to pass their driving test. Life has not been the same since.)

Rebecca @ Mom Meets Blog 1 year ago

Little kids, little problems – big kids, big problems! All this is so true – the teen years is when all the hateful and spiteful invective gets hurled – and you should hear my kid!! 😉

Sarah Wilcox 2 years ago

haha. what IS up with the Axe stuff ?

jAmy 2 years ago

The sleeping bits made me laugh SO HARD. I’m a mom of a soon-to-be-eleven-year-old girl who has recently stopped getting up at “hell no o’clock” and started sleeping until I wake her up. Which could be 10. Or noon. Except that now school has started. Ugh.

Jennifer Waters 2 years ago

It’s hard at any age. I have a toddler and teen. Yeah.

Dara Sorensen 2 years ago

Worse?! Dear Lord, what have I gotten myself into….LOL :p

Lisa Berger Collins 2 years ago

I’ll take 5 three-year-olds over a 15 year old any day of the week

Jo Pierson 2 years ago

Nope; I’ve raised both…give me a teenager any day!

Joyce DiLonardo 2 years ago

AXE Body Spray! Haha!

Robbin Chaber Allen 2 years ago

For those reading this and are nervous about how real any of this tongue in cheek stuff is, I have 2 amazing teens (17 and 19) and it’s been a blast!

Stacy Merkel 2 years ago

Trust me!(I’m a mom of a 28 &26 year old! The years go by way to fast! But I now take care of my 2 year old granddaughter a lot & I have always thought in a lot of ways toddlers are easier! Also a lot to worry about thru teen years & into 20’s . It’s just different at different ages!

Cheryl Wright Johnson 2 years ago

as a mom of a toddler and almost teen, I have to agree that toddlers are easier

Evey Whetstone Cobb 2 years ago

You have no idea!!!! One teenager and three kids 7-4..…. Not looking forward to having 3 teenagers that’s for fucking sure! The youngest three are all within 36 months of each other!

Brooke Luna 2 years ago

Teens are much harder !!! Hang in their lol 😉

Sarah in Australialand 2 years ago

LOVE THIS!! this is just gold. thankyou so much for nailing it so well. I have 5yo, 11yo and 13yo. I related to so much of this. My Man/teen does frequently startle me with his man voice, but no wadded up tissues or stolen lotion yet…. lol

Janice Gardner 2 years ago

I wish I would have had kids when I was younger lol. I was 30….they both are teens now and apparently I’m out of the loop…lmao. 47 now…I do enjoy the teen years, but sometimes it’s hard to understand what they are going though…love them to the moon and back!!! Great article :).

Danielle 2 years ago

We have two teens and two little ones, some days I’m not sure if my heart can handle it all!

Sarah Selph 2 years ago

Oh great….

Stacy Weatherred Davis 2 years ago

This is sooooo true!!!

Workout Mommy 2 years ago

great article….but curious as to why my blog header picture is featured image?

Rachel Asimaz 2 years ago

#2 killed me. Had to show that to my husband

Jessica Jenkins Coppersmith 2 years ago

It’s all sorts of fun to have toddlers and teenagers at the same time. Ahhh!

David Sirmons 2 years ago

“Teenager.” (The best contraceptive ever.)

Alison Hernandez 2 years ago

There are challenges at every stage- then they go to college – and you worry from a far .


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