40 Ways Raising Young Kids Is Worse in Your 40s
With age comes wisdom, not parenting skills.
At any given time and any given day, parenting can smack you in the face with a new challenge. It doesn't matter how good a parent you think you are (or how good you think your kids are), no mother or father is immune to the web of decisions, challenges, and blender of emotions that comes with raising a child. That said, when your age is older than many of your peer parents, that can present a few additional hiccups. Here they are. And for more excellent parenting advice, don't miss these 30 Things You're Doing That Are Annoying Your Kids.
You're on Low Voltage
Having spent the first four decades of your life only worrying about getting yourself ready, it's a whole different engine that's required to handle the waking and sometimes-not-sleeping hours of a child. Some research shows that 38 percent of women who become older parents cite a lack of energy as a primary disadvantage to being a parent when you're in an older age group. But remember: even if you're over 40, you can still do a great job parenting if you follow these 40 Parenting Hacks for Raising an Amazing Kid!
Your Peer Groups Aren't Exactly Matched Up
Some of us are better than others when it comes to social awkwardness, but there's a good chance that in every moment you have with parents of other kids—school, dance lessons, sports—the other parents will look like they could be your kids.
It's not a big deal in the grand scheme; it just may give you pause when the bring up [insert current band name] and you have no idea what they're talking about. And if you're scared of sounding old, be sure you know the 50 Words That Instantly Age You.
Everyone Will Ask You…
If she's your first grandchild, if you'd prefer to sit rather than stand, what diaper brand you prefer.
The Health Risks for Your Kids are Higher
Older parents experience more risks when it comes to conceiving and healthy pregnancies. There also may be risks in the long-term, according to some research. A Danish study found that children born to older women had a higher risk of developing health problems as adults, such as heart disease and mental disorders.
You'll Never Have Imagined That You Will Find Yourself in the Position to…
Eat so many chicken fingers for dinner, watching The Wiggles, getting into a power struggle over whether it's OK to kneel in a high chair…
You Will Take a Deep Breath When…
You get your AARP card before she gets her driver's license.
Your Kid May Not Have a Sibling to Beat Up/Befriend
Unsurprisingly, research shows that older parents are more likely to have only children. Not that there's anything wrong with single-child families, but you may have to spend some time answering questions about the possibility of brothers and sisters.
You're Stuck in Your Ways
Being older gives you confidence, habits, and an appreciation for living the life you have chosen. Awesome. So you know what you like—and you may be less likely to change because your habits are engrained in your brain like railroad tracks.
Well, you know who wants to implode those tracks? A kid who doesn't give three hoots about the fact you like to eat dinner at 7 p.m. every night. Flexibility and adaptability will become your new habit.
The Fights Over N-O-T-H-I-N-G
Spending the energy getting into a fight with your toddler because he wants to wear two different-colored socks? I mean, if that's what the kid wants and it brings him joy, can't he do that without worrying about what other kids will say? Or the parents? I don't care. They're socks! It means nothing! It does not have to be a power struggle about who wins and loses—let's save that for conflicts that really matter. Let's. Stop. This. Nonsense. If you don't understand this, it may be one of the Subtle Signs You're Not Ready to Have Kids.
The Fights Over B-I-G T-H-I-N-G-S
You've made it through 40-some years navigating tough territory, and you're feeling pretty good about how you handle it. The stakes change when kids come into the big picture. Everything matters. What schools you choose. What age you'll let them on social media. When they can drive by themselves. Maybe you thought these big decisions were over, but they're only just beginning.
You May Be Soft
Every parent struggles with the right balance for how the punishment should fit the crime. Some set strict rules. Some are softer than a pile of whipped cream. While many parenting experts say that the sweet spot lies somewhere in the middle, some research shows that younger parents tend to dole out more punishment—not that that's a good thing or bad thing inherently. But that could signal that if you're not punishing for certain things, your kids may find more opportunities to push the limits. And your buttons.
Grampy and Mammi May Not Be Riding the Roller Coasters
One of the great joys of parenthood is the prospect and hope of enjoying grandparenthood down the line. You get to see your kids have kids. You get to experience all of cuteness with few (if any) of the responsibilities. And if you're an active and engaged grandparent, you get to ride the rides, hike the hikes, and play the games. If you get a later start in parenting (and thus grandparenting), there's a chance your body won't be able to do what your heart wants it to.
At Some Point, Your Kids Will Develop a Tangible Fear of You Dying
They'll see it when they notice you look older than their friends' parents, and they'll notice it when they see you having perhaps more health problems in front of their eyes. It won't be an issue when your kids are young, but as they age—and they see you age—they may get more in tune about mortality.
These May Disappear
Favorite TV shows, favorite teams, movies that aren't made by Pixar.
Someone Else is Deciding When You Sleep
Nothing has dictated how well or how long you sleep in a long, long time (save those New Year's Eve parties). When 4 a.m. feedings or soothings feel as fun as 45-minute airport security lines, you know that you've lost control over one very cherished aspect of your life.
It's Not Quite As Easy To…
Get all the way across the monkey bars, play all-time quarterback without straining a rotator cuff, work a joystick with seven buttons.
You Will Google Things You Never Thought You Would Have To
The best way to…
The best way to get diarrhea out of the crown molding.
The best way for a 49-year-old to go back to sleep after being up four times a night.
The best way to avoiding mistaking infant formula with protein powder
You're Stuck in the Middle
Perhaps the biggest dilemma parents will face is that of being smack in the middle of that sandwich—when both your aging parents and your young kids are at the ages they need you the most.
Both of them will need you—logistically, perhaps financially, mentally, emotionally, and time-wise. This strain will make your brain feel like it's being stretched through your ears, and it will cause stress and pressure you have never felt. As an older parent, you're more likely to get both your kids and parents at the ages where they need you most—at the very young end of the scale and the very old one.
You Will Constantly Question These Young Parents
Yeah, sure, you're glad that your little one is playing soccer. But that ding dong of a head coach, who has his own daughter on the team, and is a decade younger than you doesn't know squat about the sport, and boy wouldn't you like to take him aside and tell him that he's a blowhard who jollies up with a whistle around his mouth. Bleeping try-hard!
You're Not as Hip—or Exposing Yourself to New Ideas
A Pew research study found that younger parents are more likely to use social media—and they often use it to field parenting questions or get advice on problems. Despite the annoyances of social media, the communities that can arise do help parents navigate tough spots already navigated by others.
Your Bounce-Back Ability is Lower
Some parents report that parents who are younger have a better ability to rebound from pregnancy.
Distance Can Be a Disadvantage
Some experts suggest that younger parents can relate to their kids better, which gives them a leg up on being able to understand them, reason with them, and talk through issues with them.
You Will Feel Utter Humiliation
When you're blocked from your kids' social media.
You Will Feel Utter Disgust
When you see their friends' social media.
You Will Feel Utter Joy
When they finally follow you back.
Others Will Make Incorrect Assumptions
Hey, you may very well be able to keep yourself fit, young, and vibrant. But chances are, no matter how many beans you eat, how much moisturizer you use, or how many planks you perform, you may appear older than your peer parents. There's nothing wrong with being 60 at high school graduation or 70 at weddings, as long as you're embraced for some #MeetTheGrandparents jokes—and honest mistakes.
It's Harder to Get Revved Up
Kids—especially those in the sweet spot between 2 and 5—require you to be operating at the velocity of a high-speed train. The same juice you felt in your 20s (let's go!) isn't the same juice as you feel now (prune?).
You'll Feel Pangs of Jealousy
You love your kids. You do. They're awesome, and parenting is the best thing that has every happened in your life. But that co-worker who is about your age and just shipped their last one off to college? You're not exactly thrilled to hear about the logistics for their trip to Fiji when the last excursion you can remember was your trip to Target to get lotion for diaper rash.
It's Hard to Start New Networks
You like your friend groups—and your wine nights, book clubs, golf outings, and poker nights. While there are certainly ways to keep them in your life, you will also be developing new friend groups. They can be great, but they can be challenging. Like family member, you don't always get to choose them. You inherit them from your kids' activities. Sometimes, that will lead you to develop new and lifelong friendships, and sometimes, you will think that you'd rather jam broken glass in your ear.
You Will Have a Have to Stomach Seeing Your Budget Slashed
No matter how stable your career, you'll still be shocked at the cost of everything multiplied—of clothes, of food, of phones, of tuition. Your financial security will put you in a position to handle the increased financial burden, but you'll need to be prepared that the cost of being a parent will significantly cut into the costs of just being you.
You Will Experience Your Own Stuff Too
Being a parent is a series of them-before-me situations. But the reality is that the older you get, the more you're also going to have to deal with your own health issues as well. Sometimes you'll ignore that stuff. Sometimes you'll have to balance that stuff. Most times, you'll have to take extra time to take care of you—so that your stuff doesn't become their burden.
They're Not Going to Understand It When You Say…
Atari, Prince, floppy disk, Full House.
Your Kids May Have to Work on Soft Skills
We all know that a kid's childhood is shaped by everything—how we parent, what they watch, what they learn, how many likes they got on their last post. One of the greatest influencers: Their own peer network.
Something older parents should be on the lookout for: A study published in the journal Translation Psychiatry found that kids born to older men are less likely to fit in socially. And that could mean more emotional challenges for them.
Not to be too morbid, but older parents simply have less time to spend with their kids after they grow up. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy the now, be the best parent possible, and have a long and lovely life. But at some point, math catches up—and your time with your kids is simply shorter.
You Will Flip Roles Faster
As you get older, it's not just your health that may decline, but you may become a financial or logistical burden on your kids when they get older—and when they're not yet prepared to be. It may be easier for younger parents to handle it, because their kids will be more logistically and financially stable as you age. But if you're older, it's not far-fetched to think that they're going to be early in their careers and own lives when you start having issues.
You're in a Delay
An empty nester in their mid-40s or 50s is different from one in their 60s. and maybe you got plenty of travel in before you had kid, older parents, of course, just have less time to enjoy the empty nest. And Venice awaits.
You Have to Resist Temptation
Do. Not. Try. To. Be. The. Skateboarder. Or. Dress. Like. Them.
The Support System Shrinks
There's a good chance that you'll have less help from other areas of life—like your own parents (since they're older) and a less-connected social web, since parents with kids the same age may already have their established groups. That may make it harder to find and connect with other folks who can help your tribe when you need them.
You Do Less of What You Used To
You spent years traveling, playing, working—and you're used to that sense of adventure. You will be trading those things for other adventures, like playing such nifty and classic games as How Much of the Processed Apple Juice Can Make It Into the Toilet?
Infinite Floor Time
Pick up, bend down, get up, get down, play horsey, he dropped a Cheerio. In your life, you'll never have done so many unintentional burpees. And to make sure you're the best possible parent no matter your age, read these 30 Worst Parenting Mistakes Everyone Makes.
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