Stages of Parenting: A Look Back at Being a Mom to Different Ages


teenager and mom with laptop. parenting stages. Des Moines MomAs a mom to a high schooler, I’m starting to feel a little of bit of a tug on my heart as I realize I don’t have many years left with my kids at home. While we are at a really fun stage of parenting, I also miss elementary music programs, little league sports, and a slower pace at home. 

While I know there are scientists and scholars who have identified more “formal” stages to parenting (here’s a Focus on the Family article), here’s my take on the stages of parenting I’ve had as a mom thus far. 

The Beginning

As a new parent, I was totally lost. I was totally in love with my baby but I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. This little creature depended on me for 100% of his safety and care. I remember thinking every moment of every day in those first months was focused on him. 

The good parts of having a baby were that after those first few weeks, we were pretty much still able to hang out with friends, go out to eat, and maintain some of our “pre-baby” lifestyle. 

The tough part of this stage was the learning curve with becoming a parent. Was he meeting his milestones? Was he eating enough? Was he developing as he should? Were we parenting in a way that was meaningful to us? 

des moines moms blog parenting stages

Preschool Years

I may have blocked out many of these years! Every parent is different but this was the hardest stage for me. 

I loved when my kids could get dressed by themselves in the morning and put their own sandals on to go to the park. They could tell me what hurt and when they didn’t feel good. 

The tough parts of the preschool years were handling the big emotions and opinions from my kids! I once heard the advice, “If you want respectful teenagers, start when they’re three.” I took this to heart. In this stage of parenting, we found ourselves trying to teach our kids how to be safe, kind little humans. 

Elementary Years

I remember when my youngest went to Kindergarten. I thought I would be sad but I wasn’t! I suddenly found myself with extra time on my hands. If I’m honest, it was a nice breath of fresh air. Since I’m a doula and work from home (unless I’m with a family), I had a lot of quiet time to myself. I found some time to head to the gym and regain some of my independence and identity back. I also loved that my kids could get themselves in the car and we could easily go places without much notice or planning. 

Before I was a doula, I was a 5th grade teacher so I love the elementary years. The hardest part of having elementary school students were worrying about school work, my kids and their friends, and balancing the many extra-curricular activities they wanted to try. 

des moines moms blog parenting stages

Middle School Years

I loved the middle school years! As a mom, I love seeing that my kids are finding their place in the world and strengthening their talents as a student, athlete, musician, friend, etc. As middle schoolers, they are pretty independent. They can complete homework, get their own snacks, and of course, no more car seats or assistance needed in going places! 

Our struggles with middle school kids were the big emotions and hormones that hit. My boys can get pretty moody, especially if they are tired or hungry! During this stage, I noticed my kids shift from wanting to communicate with us (their parents) and more with their friends. Another struggle is a fun but tough one–being busy! While we’ve set some boundaries around the number of activities our kids are in, middle school gets busy! I’m truly a taxi service and door dash most nights! 

des moines moms blog parenting stages

High School Years and Beyond

We are new high school parents so I can’t give too much insight into this parenting stage. So far, we’ve loved being parents to a child who can drive and watch him become more responsible. Our oldest son is becoming very helpful with driving his brother to school. He is also strong enough and tall enough to do meaningful chores. We  love watching more “grownup” shows with him and having deeper life conversations in the evenings. 

The toughest part is hearing from other moms how fast high school goes. I try to live in the moment and not get too overwhelmed thinking our days with him at home will end sooner than later. It’s also tough watching your kids drive each other to school. I’m a worrier so this independence has been a lesson for both parents and kids in our house! 

des moines moms blog parenting stages

If you don’t have a mom friend who has kids older than yours, try to find someone. I have a few moms with kids who are in college and through college that I can turn to for advice. This makes all parenting stages much easier to navigate, and you will pay it forward too! 

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Katie Nyberg
I am married to my high school sweetheart, Wes, and we have two energetic boys who are active in hockey, cross country, choirs, bands, and track. Our family loves to explore Des Moines, travel around the country, and do anything sports related together! I own a birth and postpartum doula agency called The Iowa Baby Ladies that supports families in Central Iowa. We love serving mothers in our area as they grow, birth, and mother their babies with confidence!


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