“I wish I could sleep like a baby!”
“He’s got it made! He’s in your arms all day, gets to cry for food. Ah, he’s living the life!”
“I wish I was a kid again. Just play all day. I miss those days!”
When we start our day at 5am dependent on our coffee, we think about how tough our night was.
When our laundry pile is growing to mountainous proportions because we can’t put the teething baby down, we think about how long the day is.
We stare at the clock waiting for our partner to get home.
We often think, “oh to be a child again, that was so easy.”
Your Baby’s Having A Hard Day Too
What we fail to remember, though magical, childhood wasn’t quite so easy while we were there. We didn’t have the coordination, the communication and the knowledge we have now.
Sure, playing all day would be wonderful, but that’s because we know how to play.
Sleeping a solid ten hours would be excellent, because we have longer sleep cycles and aren’t woken up with the inability to communicate our thirst – we simply grab a glass of water.
It’s easy to focus on how hard our days and nights are, and easy to forget that a hard day for us is a hard day for them too.
It’s Okay For You To Have A Hard Day, But Don’t Forget They’re Struggling Too
Parenthood is hard. Working is hard. Keeping a house is hard. This isn’t to suggest we shouldn’t struggle, it’s just that we shouldn’t forget our children struggle too.
When we can put ourselves in our children’s shoes, it can actually make our day a little easier. When we can see that our children aren’t giving us a hard time, we can interact with them in a more positive way.
When you realise your child is having a hard time, you can help them instead of jumping to correct what seems like just bad behavior.
Can You Imagine Not Being Able To Communicate?
One of the biggest struggles for parents is dealing with crying. Somedays, crying seems relentless. Few things can make you feel as helpless as being unable to soothe your crying baby.
It’s easy to think, they’re giving you a hard time. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that they’re fed, happy and clean and thus they’re simply giving you a hard time.
However, if you pause and remember that crying is an infant’s only way to communicate, you realise their crying isn’t really about you.
Can you imagine being in a foreign country, unable to speak the language, unable to walk yourself somewhere and unable to get food?
Can you imagine seeing the same book over and over again and being unable to ask for a new one?
What if the tag on your shirt was scratching you, you’re unable to reach it and you can’t ask anyone to help you?
And even once your toddler can talk, their ability to communicate is hard. Sure, they can ask for water or let you know they need to use the potty.
But what about properly communicating their feelings? Few toddlers have the words to express frustration, feeling overwhelmed, or feeling jealous of the attention you’re putting into folding the laundry.
It’s hard dealing with crying. It’s hard dealing with tantrums. But it can help to remember that they’re having a hard time too. It’s much easier to empathise with your child when you realise they aren’t doing it just to drive you crazy.
How Would You Feel If You Were Tired But You Just Couldn’t Sleep?
If you’ve experienced pregnancy insomnia, this probably isn’t something that’s hard to imagine. However, as an adult, you recognise insomnia and you can try different tips and tricks to find ways to rest.
Your baby, however, can’t easily explain they’re overtired and overstimulated and their brain just doesn’t know how to settle.
Your baby can’t tell you the tooth which you can’t quite see yet is causing aches every time she lays down. She can’t say that her deep instinct to be close to a safe caregiver makes her scared every time she’s put down because she’s only a few weeks old.
Your toddler can’t articulate that his imagination is running wild and that shadow, however silly, is terrifying to him. He can’t explain why he’s energised in the middle of the night because his brain is busy mastering a new skill.
It’s so incredibly hard to be mama at 2am. But it’s really hard to be baby too.
What If You Had Zero Control Over Your Life?
We have bosses, laws and policies of course, but generally speaking, we’re our own boss. We can eat when we choose. We go to bed when we’d like. And we get to decide that we’re skipping the veggies in favor of ice cream.
But what if you had virtually no control? What if you had to ask for every meal? Every toy? What if you had to fuss and simply hope someone figured out which sleeping position is most comfortable for you?
We have a level of control over our children’s lives mostly because that’s the safest and healthiest thing. We certainly can’t trust a two year old to choose plenty of sleep and healthy foods if fully left alone.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to never have control. It’s got to be hard to know exactly what you want and struggle to communicate it, or be told no when you finally figure out how to articulate your desires.
So yes, it’s hard being a parent. But it’s hard being a baby too. On your hardest day, remember that your baby is having a hard day too.