When my two children were four years and 18 months old, I thought it was the best time of parenting.
They were both so cute and funny and adoring. One was still napping and even though I had both home full-time and it was at times exhausting, my days were filled with giggles and cuddles. Now, at eight and six, I have to say I feel as though I have reached the best phase so far.
Don't get me wrong, there are many days when I feel like I am going to tear my hair out in frustration. My confident and often argumentative eight-year-old has endless sass and attitude that brings me both a swell of pride and complete exasperation most days.
On the whole, however, things are pretty good. Being a second child, my six-year-old by default is far more independent than her big sister was at the same age, and my eldest is a bit of a mini-mum to her.
Miss Six still ultimately wants her mum at bedtime and when she is hurt or upset, but my eldest will do home readers with her and encourage her to do maths and schoolwork. Often she will read to her younger sister at bedtime and help to choose clothes for the day.
They get along well, and now that they are older their interests are pretty much the same, so activities, games and outings to suit both children are easy to find.
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At this age we have no naps to fit into our daily schedule, and a late night here and there won't completely throw them out the following day. They are able to shower and dress themselves, have recently learnt how to brush and tie their own hair and they make themselves breakfast and help themselves to snacks most days.
They have genuine interests in subjects that I can enjoy with them. We can watch movies as a family and there isn't a Wiggle or pink pig in sight. I enjoy taking them out and we have some really interesting and mature conversations.
I sometimes forget how grown up they are, but both are quick to remind me that they aren't babies. I am often told to "stop worrying Mummy, we are fine".
They still have trouble falling asleep and staying in their beds all night can be a challenge, but overall, this stage of parenting is pretty good.
While I know the tumultuous tween and teen years are around the corner, for now I am in the sweet spot of having independent and capable children who also still love a snuggle and don't find me annoying or embarrassing.
I am going to enjoy every moment of it.
- Christy Kidner is a trained newborn care specialist and mother of two. Visit Christy's blog at motheringme.com.au.