5 emotional stages every parent goes through getting their kids in the car

Lately, I have been thinking about the most challenging aspects of parenting.

The hard bits

The more I think about it, the more I realise that we really are spoilt for choice when it comes to ‘the ultimate hard bits’ of motherhood.

Let me see … there’s the newborn phase, where babies latch themselves to our breasts like desperate little limpets; they wake us up at night until they are two and not actually a newborn anymore, but we are too tired to remember their age. There’s the phase where toddlers love to throw tantrums over the colour of their bowl and practise vocalising the word “no!”, at length in public.

Let’s not forget the threenagers who are full of attitude and sass. Of course, the challenges don’t stop when they turn four either … or five, or six, seven, eight, nine, ten. You get the drift.

Drum roll, please …

Today I finally worked out what the hardest part of parenting is: getting children into the car.

Now this might not sound like a big deal, and maybe to a parent of one child it isn’t (actually, scrap that, because I have vivid memories of how long it took me to get my baby firstborn into the car, so no, I’m sure this does actually apply to all parents), but it really is.

I’ve narrowed the experience down to five stages of emotional upheaval that every parent goes through when they attempt to get their children into the car. 


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1. Hopefulness

This is where every parent believes, despite having experienced this whole ‘getting kids into the car’ palaver a magnitude of times before, that this time, things will be different. Surely, it can’t be the same sh!tfest that occurs during every other attempt at getting the kids moving on time. We can do this; we have got this.

2. Resentment

Nope! It’s still the same shi!tfest that it always is. Despite giving ample warning and lots of gentle prompting, even implementing and using visual charts so that everyone gets their belongings organised and ready, they still can’t get their act together. Honestly, attempting to get children into the car on time is akin to stuffing an octopus in a netted bag – everything is going everywhere, and we are going nowhere. Why do we bother?

3. Anger

This is the moment when you’re pulling out of the driveway, and you’re made aware that someone has either forgotten their shoes, or they REALLY need to pee, right now. So it’s time to turn around. Oh. My. God. Are these kids f*cking serious?! WHY IS THIS SO HARD?

4. Resignation and acceptance

You are forever going to be late, and you’re starting to accept this fact. Getting everyone ready and in the car at the same time isn’t possible. “I don’t care anymore,” you say to anyone that will listen.

5. Relief 

There comes a time in every car journey when you realise you actually did it; you left the house. All the children are in the car, and they’re (mostly) clothed in seasonally-appropriate attire. They don’t have food on their face (you think), and even though they may be fighting each other over whose window they can look out, you did it.

Talk about an emotional rollercoaster.

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