If you’re a parent, how many times have you heard the phrase ‘it’s just a phase’? I’m willing to bet if you times your child’s age in seconds by infinity you still would be way off. In fact, I said it in a group chat with my NCT friends less than 24 hours before typing this post.
It got me thinking. It’s probably one of the most common parenting phrases (alongside ‘they grow up so fast’ and ‘why is Bing such a knob?’) but in my experience, it’s also very true. It’s not just one of those things old ladies have learned to say so that they sound like a herd of sheep all bleating together ‘it’s just a phase’. Every single thing ends.
That means the lovely things: like that newborn smell, the way they curl up like a little Quaver crisp on your chest for the first few weeks, the little snuffling noises they do (I can’t carry on with this list or I might cry thinking about the cuteness of that early time). But it also means the shit things too. I remember Dylan saying to me before Christmas when we were going through that awful time when Max just forgot how to sleep and sometimes the only way we could get through a night was having him in our bed for a bit, that he was worried we’d get into a habit that we’d never get out of. I replied that even if we did, I’ve never ever heard of a 15 year old boy wanting to get into his parents’ bed overnight so eventually we’d get out of the habit (as it was we somehow muddled our way through that time and he hasn’t been in our bed for months).
The whole sleep thing was awful. We knew it would end and we knew that while we could try and influence it in some ways – adjusting nap times, making sure we were consistent with our approach at night – some of it would just be a matter of time. Time to get over the constant colds he was experiencing. Time to cut those first teeth through. And time to just get past that developmental stage.
The same goes for the horrendous toddler tantrums we had at the start of the year. For a few weeks, pretty much every day with Alex made me want to cry. There were glimpses of the funny, intelligent, lovely little girl but there were also hours each day where I just wanted to run away! Again, a developmental stage I think as she got noticeably better (not cured: the tantrums are still there like you’d expect from a two year old don’t worry!) the day her speech got dramatically clearer and her sentences got longer.
Every single thing that happens in their life is just a phase, some of them you barely get through by the skin of your teeth, some of them exhaust you, some of them make you cry so much your face hurts constantly. Some of them delight you, some you never want to end.
It’s not actually that reassuring at the start to hear ‘it’s just a phase’ as you want to do something to fix them, to hurry past that time of them being unsettled or unhappy (or making you unhappy!), but I think certainly for me the more phases you go through, the more you learn to try and not get as wound up by them. To let them pass. To just get through them the best way you can.
However, for those offering up the phrase ‘it’s just a phase’ perhaps you could add on another phrase which will offer more comfort? For example:
‘It’s just a phase…but here is some chocolate to help you get through it.’
‘It’s just a phase…but do you need a couple of hours off? If so, I can look after baby.’
‘It’s just a phase…but here is what helped us get through that phase.’
‘It’s just a phase…you’re doing a great job.’
Harriet, Alexandra and Max x