Dear Me, Young Children Are Hard Work

Dear Future Me, Today is a special day and one I have looked forward to for some time. Sadly though I suspect at some point I will look back with regrets and guilt so I am taking this time to remind you (the me of the future) how I feel now.  When time fades my memories and I look back with rose tinted glasses I want to have a record of how things really were. People often talk about the magical baby days and how it's sad children grow up so fast, but looking after young children all day can often be really hard work. For some of us we begin to enjoy parenting our children more as they get older. 

Siblings heading off to school and nursery and parent happy to see them go
I am happy that my children are now in full time school and nursery 

Starting Nursery

I love all of my children, but the last few years have regularly been a struggle so it was with a joy and lightness I walked my youngest child to nursery on his first day and handed him over to be the temporary responsibility of others. I headed home to spend the first of many days working with the gift of time to focus. A gift that I have been wanting for some time.  

It’s not the first day I have worked recently, I have been managing my blog part time for years and I have had a few uninterrupted days working in that time, but they have been one off days. Days I had negotiate childcare for. My son has also spent a year at nursery in term time which gave me 2 1/2 hours to work or do anything else that needed to be done without an entourage. A short space of time that I felt a pressure to be focussed, organised and achieve everything. The luxury of knowing I have weeks ahead of me with regular time to work fills me with happiness. 

I’m not naive enough to forget about school holidays or the chance of sickness. Last year there was barely a week that went by without one child or another being off school sick. I’m expecting they will have unplanned days off school, but I am hopeful they will be less constant than last year (and I'm blocking out the home school lockdown era).

I don’t feel guilt at this joy. It's good for me to have time to work, to focus on things that excite me and to use my brain because I have felt like I have lost so much of myself over the last few years. I have repeatedly had to put my needs behind the needs of my family and I have had enough. I need the me time to allow me to be a better mother and a happier person.

Maternity Leave

I went on maternity leave just before Christmas 2015. Throughout my second pregnancy I experienced painful PGP and struggled to get around. I was glad to leave the job for a year particularly so I could avoid seeing the manager I hated and to end the painful commute. The first year with my second born was tiring as Little didn’t sleep and she was dependent on me as you expect with a baby, but generally she was a happy, relaxed child and I was happy at home. I didn’t want to return to work so my manager (who appeared to hate me too) offered a mutually beneficial arrangement to end my contract. I never went back.

Fast forward a few years and my son joined our family. I couldn't describe him as a happy baby, if anything the best way to describe his personality for the first 18 months was angry. He cried a lot and generally seemed to be in a bad mood. Unlike his sister he was not content to watch the world go by and when he started crawling at an early 6 months it opened up a whole world to cause chaos in. 

As BB has grown up he has continued to have extremely strong emotions. He can be cute and funny, but he still gets very angry, very often. It doesn't help that I often can't understand his non-verbal cues to help him. He can be stubborn and often regularly refuses to go out when we need to pick up his siblings. I appreciate it’s no fun to constantly be dragged around places that are of no interest or benefit to you, but there is generally no choice and I never know when he is going to make a simple school pick up very hard work. 

Even this morning we were nearly late for school because he refused to get in the car. He wanted to go in the little car, not the big car that our bags and his sisters were all ready and waiting in. He couldn’t be talked round or bribed and he got really angry. He wouldn’t sit in his seat so I took him out to try and calm him down, it didn’t work. He kicked and scratched me, knocking my glasses off and screamed loudly. We were already behind schedule and I didn’t want to change cars, especially not after the tantrum, but ultimately I had to or we wouldn’t have made it to school.  This is not unusual behaviour. Most days when he wakes up he is in a mood and if things don’t happen as he wants he gets angry. Being shouted at by a 3 year old is no fun and I don’t appreciate being physically attacked or watching him throwing toys and furniture around either. 

Constant Challenges

The lockdowns and impact of Covid obviously had some impact, but the strong emotions were there before that so missing out on baby groups and socialisation can’t be blamed for his personality. His speech delay has made things harder though. It is completely understandable that if you want something and you can’t communicate sufficiently to get it then you might get annoyed. Even now his speech isn’t always clear enough to interpret, but luckily I can mostly understand what his frustrations are and try to work with him. 

What I love about BB's improved speech is seeing the good side of his personality coming out: the stories he shares, the games he plays and the cute things he says.  There are times I really enjoy being around him now, but it’s been a long time coming. 

My son hasn't just been hard work because of his moods though, he has his sister's curiosity. An admirable quality that sadly in a small child often leads to a large amount of mess and many broken items. I spent days on end achieving nothing because as soon as I turned my back chaos reigned. Frustrating enough at home, but when out it requires constant vigilance to ensure he doesn’t do anything dangerous or destructive and this is exhausting. So I often avoid going out with my children.

G and I are exhausted. For years we have either been working or tag teaming to look after the children and while of course this is something you sign up for when you become a parent some are lucky to get more breaks than others.

At home the children have started to play nicely together more often, but a standard day will still involve having to physically separate the younger two multiple times to stop them hurting each other. Even if I didn’t mind the damage and the mess to the house that happens when left uninterrupted the violence can quickly escalate and I worry that it will one day result in a major injury. Neither middle or younger sibling are prepared to step away from a disagreement.

Dear Future Me

So yes dear future me you might be looking back and thinking “young children are so cute, I wish I took more time to appreciate mine, that I played with them more and went on more adventures” but I am here to remind you that despite the punctuation of heart warming moments things have been hard. I am burnt out and fed up of just existing. My high point of each day should be more than just "I survived". It is tough to focus on the good moments when so much of the time has just felt so very very hard.

I am hopeful that things will have improved by the time I read this in the future. That despite hormones, battles over screen time and general life that the number of good moments continue to grow. I have no doubt we have challenges ahead, but I think with the extra space and time I can give to myself I will be better able to face those challenges with the patience, grace and energy I have so often been lacking. So I hope I'm not looking back with regrets, because I have done my best and it wasn’t easy. 


  1. Such a truthful post and I loved it. Everyone says enjoy your kids when they're young, make memories etc but young kids are hard, and there's plenty of time for memory making when they're older. For me parenting older kids is easier and more enjoyable

    1. Thank you Lisa. If we are lucky we have children in our lives for such a long time, I'm hopeful that we will have lots of good times ahead


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