As my kids get older and are in school I have moms of young kids longingly ask how it is to have some quiet time during the day, and how I spend my "free time" etc. I remember feeling that exact way when I was swimming/drowning in toddler tantrums, sippy cups, breastfeeding babies, no sleep and running after little ones all day. I was absolutely 100% physically exhausted every single day. I had to rush getting a shower if I got one at all and I longed for a nap nearly every day. I often cried from sheer exhaustion.
These days I do get to have a shower every day, I can take a fairly long one (well that is if the teens have left me any hot water), I can shave my legs!, I can have a nap occasionally and I do have some quiet time during the day. However I still have the same tasks I had to do before my kids were in school, I just don't have little helpers around!
I work 8 hours a week as a preschool teacher which isn't much but honestly by the time I get home from work I only have a couple of hours until the teens get home from high school. That "down time" is quickly taken up by laundry, dishes, errands etc. When the kids do start getting home from school that is when my "real job" begins. It is running from one thing to another, keeping schedules straight, attending sporting and choir events, finding time for family dinner, fixing dinner, helping with homework etc. I'm a big believer in not over scheduling my kids but with 5 kids even if they are only doing one extra activity plus church activities it is a lot!
I've been asked several times if it's easier being a mom now than when I had little ones. That is one loaded question! I am really good with small children, I know it's a gift I've been given from God. I love little kids and often enjoy their company more than many adults. I am confident about disciplining them and teaching them. I honestly have struggled more with them as they get older, but it is nice to be able to leave one of the older kids in charge while I run to the bank or Costco. They get themselves ready for school (if I can get them to pull themselves out of bed!). The are more independent and that can be very helpful!
However my answer to motherhood being easier is no...and I'll explain why. Definitely not easier, not necessarily harder, just different. Instead of not sleeping due to a newborn up every hour, I wait up late at night for teens to get home from being with friends. They don't go to bed early and are often up late doing homework. I lie awake at night worrying about their choices and the impact it will have on their future. Instead of worrying about potty training I'm teaching them to drive and hoping beyond hope they have the judgement and protection to not hurt themselves or others. Instead of dealing with toddler tantrums I deal with teenage and tween tantrums (which are eerily similar) except I can't carry them to time out or solve it with a hug and kiss. Instead of worrying about them not sharing with others at the park, I pray desperately they will find good friends who will be kind and inclusive and help them become their best selves because I can no longer set up play dates with the kids I want them to play with. I can honestly say I always have a prayer in my heart for their well being and their choices. At the end of every day I am 100% mentally and emotionally exhausted!
You give up a lot of control as kids grow up and that is hard. You have to let them make mistakes and deal with hard consequences and that is hard on a mommy heart. Now being a parent of a teen isn't all hardship and doom and gloom. I really enjoy my teenagers honestly, they are great kids and we have a very good relationship. They open up and talk to me often and we have good discussions about the good and difficult things in their lives. They share their music and YouTube videos and they have great senses of humor. I quite like these kids of mine.
My advice is don't wait for things to get "easier". It just doesn't happen. Going grocery shopping is definitely easier but shopping for clothes with teens is not...lol. I hear that parenting adult children has its own unique challenges, I'm getting to that stage now! Enjoy the ages and stages your kids are at. Every age and stage has wonderful things and definite challenges. Every child does things their own way so even when you figure out one child, the next one will do things differently. I have 5 kids, I parent them differently due to their unique personalities. It's a lot of prayer, meditation and honestly trial and error. I make mistakes daily. Motherhood wasn't meant to be easy, it's meant to refine us and help us grow into the women God needs us to be.