We survived the crazy toddler years and yes, it does get easier

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I remember sitting on the bedroom floor of my kids' room while our third child cried in her cot. I was desperately trying to get her to settle, so she wouldn't wake her two older sisters, but was failing miserably. 

And then, in the darkness, surrounded by toys, I started to sob. 

I had three kids under four-years-old. I felt like I hadn't slept in years and was exhausted. 

And to top it all off, it had been one of those days. I felt like a failure.

During those early years, everything was hands-on. We had three different sized nappies, three car seat configurations and there was a time we had a double and single pram when we went out. 

The kids all had staggered sleep times, varying food requirements and there was always someone sick. We dreaded gastro in our house – it would wipe out the entire family in shifts for an entire week.

And then there were the tantrums. Some of them mine.

One night I just sat in my car for over an hour and cried. I cried a lot back when we were in the thick of it. Parenting young children is relentless and I had support. My hat's tipped to the women or men out there doing this all alone – you are champions.

My husband and I used to remind each other that when our kids got older and could do more things themselves, it would get a little easier.

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At the time, it felt like that was an eternity away, but like most things in life, it zoomed by in a snot-filled, foot stamping, late-night milky cuddles blur.

Earlier this year, our eldest turned 11-years-old, our youngest eight and our middle child just turned 10. And yes, while we have a whole new set of parenting challenges, we have also come out of the other side of one of the most physically and mentally challenging stages.

Our kids can go to the toilet alone, get their own food, put their own seat belts on and off, and generally go to bed on time. I drop them at the front gate of their school and they take themselves to their classrooms. Recently, our kids even made us a breakfast of pancakes, complete with perfectly made coffee, while we slept in.

It was like a pure moment of miraculous joy.

Mostly, we've been shown time-and-time again that all the hard work and consistency of parenting we've stuck to over the years has started to pay off.

Our children are kind, polite, considerate and respectful. They are inquisitive and aren't afraid to ask the big questions about life.

They are brave and try hard at most things (getting them to take a shower is still a struggle).

They ask us about how our days have been and express concern if we are upset or troubled. They are interested in what we have to say and will offer advice. 

They are funny and sarcastic. And we genuinely have an awesome time hanging out with each other. 

We are definitely in the sweet spot of parenting – where our kids want to spend time with us, not just because they need us, but because they enjoy our company. And we adore them.

All the years of changing nappies, cutting up food into tiny cubes, wrestling with them to go to bed and navigating supermarkets with a screaming toddler are far behind us. 

All the times I questioned my parenting skills and sat in dark rooms while tears tumbled down my cheeks are far behind me, for now. 

I'm sure the teenage years will be bring with them a whole new set of parenting anxieties.

But for now, I'm relishing this wonderful time with my gorgeous kids. We made it though the early years and now we're blessed to share our home with three of most amazing girls in the world.