Parenting can be a struggle at the best of times. No matter what age you are when you have children it can be a big adjustment when you are suddenly in charge of a real human person 24 hours a day.
Suddenly you go from being an independent adult and then within nine months you are committed for the next 18 years of your life to this raising this child physically, emotionally and financially (well, if we're being honest it doesn't end after 18 years, but let's stick to legally for now).
That's a long time. And as much as we love our kids parenting can be a hard slog. But I've been thinking about it lately and I think I've discovered the best time for parenting.
Babies are hard bloody work. Toddlers don't sit down or shut up. And (people tell me) teenagers suck big time. And each of these phases can be testing times for parents.
But right now, while my kids are in the midst of primary school, I've been the most relaxed I've ever been as a parent. And as we head for teenage years I imagine this is the most relaxed I'll ever be.
Parenting primary school age kids is by far the least stressful, least demanding and least emotionally draining of all the stages of parenting.
Can you remember when you have a newborn and you quite literally cannot put the baby down? And feeding. Oh my god, it just never ended. I used to sit and watch Friends and to time how long it took to feed the baby I would count how many episodes I watched. I could finish a season within a few days.
And then you hit crawling phase, and walking phase. Or if your kids are like mine they skip that completely and go straight to the running phase. Even a simple coffee with friends is hard at this age. You either have to strap them in a pram (until they Houdini their way out of their straps) or find a café with a kid zone and baby gate.
Toilet training is a drag. Kids still aren't sleeping through the night. And you somehow seem to be washing 10 outfits a day because the kid is either covered it dirt, food or spew.
Those first five years are intense.
Let's skip forward a few years to tweens and teens. While I'm not quite there yet I've heard the horror stories. Hormones, puberty, social media and high school. I do not look forward to any of that.
And somehow you are meant to supportive to a hormonal teen who thinks you're the meanest person on the planet and refuses to talk to you half the time.
Luckily, before you head into the horror story that is parenting a teenager, you get what I like to call the bliss period.
Parenting through the primary school years.
Kids are capable of wiping their own butts and doing up their own seatbelts (seriously, do not underestimate the importance of both those skills).
They generally aren't awake all night but nor are you forcing them to wake up in the mornings for school.
You can take them to the park, the pool, or out to a café and they know what the boundaries are and how far they are, or aren't, allowed to go on their own. Most of the time you can finish your coffee while it's still hot.
They're at school five days a week so you either get a bit more time to yourself at home, or you can work a few more days knowing you aren't paying hundreds in childcare.
Sure, after school activities can be a bit of a drag but the kids are still enthusiastic and generally capable of listening to the coach or teacher while you catch a half hour break. It's just being the kid taxi that sucks.
Most importantly though, this age is perfect because your kids still love you.
They are old enough to chill in their rooms on their own and not need you every 10 minutes but they're still young enough to come up to you randomly and tell you how much they love you.
My seven-year-old's favourite saying right now is "I love you more than you love me." Aww. I just melt.
So if you're struggling through the first few years, have faith, there is light at the end of the tunnel. And if you're in the primary years, maybe pause and stop to think how much you can enjoy this amazing period in your parenting life.
And if you've hit the teen years. Well, may the odds be ever in your favour.