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From Diapers to Drivers' Licenses: How to Survive Raising Toddlers and Teenagers Simultaneously!

Updated: Apr 12, 2023


Parenting is a rollercoaster ride that takes you through many different stages of your child's growth and development. Two of the most thrilling and challenging stages are parenting toddlers and teenagers. Currently, I have the privilege of parenting both at the same time, so I know first hand the trials and tribulations of these stages.


This has been a busy time for me as a mom. My 3 year old, who used to be a fabulous sleeper, has decided it’s too scary to sleep in his own room all night. He starts out there, but he always ends up in our bed at some point during the night. This tiny adorable human, who I love so much, flails about like a fish out of water with no regard for the people trying to sleep around him. There is definitely a reason kids are cute, it's a matter of survival.


Then there’s my 16 year old son who just got his license to drive on his own. Even when you know your child is a good responsible driver, this is enough to cause any mother to lose sleep. Back when I only had toddlers, I remember naively thinking that I would worry less as they got older. Now I know how truly foolish I was. The older they get, the bigger my worries get for them.


I can’t leave my girls out of all this, I'd never hear the end of it. There is no pleasure quite like a teenage girl, let me tell you! One second they’re your best friend and the next they act like you’re ruining their life. My 15 year old daughter is wanting to spend more and more time with her friends later into the night. “Mom, you don’t mind coming to get me at 12:30-1am do you?” Oh sure, no problem, I’m already awake thanks your brothers anyways.


Last, but certainly not least, there is my 12 year old. This sweet girl reminds me so much of myself in so many ways. One way in particular is the way she keeps her room. Floor? What floor? I call her my tiny tornado. I specifically remember telling my own mother not to be so concerned with my messy room. After all, it’s my room and she could just close the door if she didn’t like looking at it. All I can say at this point is, "Well played Karma… well played!"


Different, but the similar


While teenagers and toddlers may seem worlds apart, there are actually more similarities than you might think. As a mother to both, I’m just trying to navigate these phases of my kid’s lives while still keeping my sanity intact.


Both are going through significant developmental changes. Toddlers are learning to walk, talk, and assert their independence. Teenagers are developing their own identity, testing boundaries, and seeking more independence. Both stages are marked with mood swings, defiance, and pushing limits. And both can leave you feeling exhausted and frustrated.


There are plenty of differences too. Toddlers are physically dependent on you for everything, while teenagers are emotionally dependent on you. Toddlers need you to feed them, dress them, and keep them safe. Teenagers need you to listen to them, support them, and guide them. Toddlers need constant attention and supervision, while teenagers need space and privacy.


How to survive parenting both teens and toddlers at the same time:

  1. Maintain your sense of humour. Both toddlers and teenagers can be hilarious in their own way. Laugh at their jokes, find joy in their quirks, and try not to take everything so seriously.

  2. Roll with the punch (so to speak). Both stages are very unpredictable, so be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances. Toddlers regularly have meltdowns and it seems like they catch a new illness every other week. Teenagers, on the other hand, can have unexpected emotional outbursts over things that you may not believe to be a big deal (FYI telling them it’s not a big deal doesn’t help… trust me!). They will also often change their plans on a whim.

  3. Set boundaries. While both stages need some freedom, it's important to set clear boundaries and consequences. Toddlers need structure and routine, while teenagers need rules and expectations. This has always been a tough one for me because I hate conflict and struggle with not giving in. However, from personal experience, I’ve realized that the longer you let things slide without correcting them, the more difficult it becomes to get them back on track when things have really gone off the rails.

  4. Keep communication open. Toddlers may not have the words to express themselves fully, but they still need to feel heard and understood. Teenagers need to feel like they can talk to you about anything, even if it's uncomfortable or difficult. Patience is crucial for both stages. If your child is afraid of the way you react to the hard conversations, they won’t confide in you about anything. We expect our kids to communicate with us in a calm and respectful manner and the best way to teach that is by example.

  5. Take care of yourself. Parenting is tough and demanding, so make sure to take care of yourself too. When we as parents are worn down mentally, emotionally and physically ourselves, how can we possibly improve our children’s mental, emotional or physical well-being? Take breaks when you need them, ask for help when you’ve feeling overwhelmed, and don't forget to have some fun - on your own and with your kids.

Parenting toddlers and teenagers may seem like two completely different worlds, but they have more in common than you might think. By keeping your sense of humour, being flexible, setting boundaries, keeping communication open, and taking care of yourself, you can navigate both stages with ease (or at least some degree of sanity). Remember, parenting is a journey, and it's not always easy, but it's definitely worth it.

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