Has anyone ever told you that there is a sweet spot in parenting? Well there is, and I believe it’s somewhere between the age when kids start to get a bit more independent and the age when they get easily annoyed with their parents and want nothing to do with us. You will probably know when you are in this sweet spot, but if you’re unsure, then here are some of the signs you might be there.
1. The kids put themselves to bed.
Just because you have to tell them 1 million times to go, does not lessen the sweetness of the fact that you don’t have to actually hold the toothbrush for them.
2. You can binge watch Netflix together.
Take a moment to note that binging episodes of Paw Patrol does NOT count.
3. You can watch grown up movies together.
I love cartoons as much as the next person, but the sweet spot is when you can see a PG 13 movie together at the theatre. Bye bye babysitter!
4. You can take a nap while the kids are awake.
… without having to worry that they will burn the house down while you sleep. This age is totally kid-dependent but you will know you are in the sweet spot when you get there. You’ll probably always sleep with one eye open, but it’s better than not sleeping at all.
5. They can make their own lunches.
When they make their own lunches, it lessens the likelihood of the same food taking field trips to and from school every day without ever making it out of the lunch bag.
6. The graduation from kiddie coaster to grown-up coaster.
If you’re going to pay a trillion dollars a person to go to an amusement park, it’s just nice if you can go on some rides that are fun for you too.
7. You can travel on an airplane without having a massive “How will my child do?” panic attack.
8. You can walk out of the house with your kids carrying ONLY your purse.
Let me repeat that….ONLY your purse! This actually may have been one of the biggest things for me as my kids got older. I noticed it right away when I didn’t have to leave the house with the diaper bag, a bag of toys and snacks just in case they hit a wall and pretty much everything else under the sun. When you can walk out of the house with just your purse and your kids, then you are definitely in the sweet spot. On the flip side, you head out of the sweet spot once your kids are embarrassed to be seen with you and your purse.
9. The kids can be at home by themselves.
Date night no longer involves wrangling up a grandparent, calling in a favor from a friend, or hedging your bets on the neighborhood teenage sitter.
10. You can actually SIT down when you’re at the beach.
Of course it’s only when they are playing in the sand, but still — sitting down is sitting down.
11. You sign them up for a sport or activity and they care about it as much or more than you do.
I remember trying to put my kids in toddler soccer. Let me tell you, that field was cleared of dandelions pretty quickly and there was very little soccer played. The children never wanted to actually go and neither (deep down) did I. Now that the children have found some of their actual interests, they leave the house much more easily on practice night.
12. You can play a board game with them and not have to “let” them win.
I never actually blatantly let them win, but there is just something programmed in me to not try my very best and kind of secretly be cheering for my kids to win. Also related: when they get past the sore loser stage. Yup, sweet spot.
13. The kids can operate the TV remote control by themselves.
This creates all kinds of freedom for us as parents. Particularly in the morning when you don’t have to try to hit the right button on the remote when your eyes are still squished together in sleepiness.
14. They can get their own cereal in the morning.
Once they have mastered this and conquered the remote control, your work here is done my friend. You get to sleep in. Well, past 6:00 am anyways.
15. They can get their own drinks.
For some reason, I’m pretty good at serving supper but I always forget drinks. So that means that as soon as I sit down, I’m up again getting milk, or juice or water. Once they can get their own, then sitting down for supper actually means “sitting down’ for supper.” Well for me, anyway … not so much for them.
16. They are toilet trained and also when they can wipe their own behind.
17. They can vomit in a bucket.
Sure, you feel sorry for them when they feel so crappy, but it’s still highly appropriate to fist bump your spouse when the kids first manage to vomit somewhere other than “all over themselves.”
18. They still like you. Most of the time.
You know you’re in the sweet spot when they are still young enough that they don’t really mind being seen with you and they think you’re pretty great. Most of the time. This is key to being in the sweet spot.
If you are in the sweet spot, enjoy it. If your kids are quite young, then I promise you it’s coming. Of course this stage has it’s challenges too, but for me it was definitely the “sweet spot” … so far.