Remember when everyone had kids in their 20s? They were barely adults themselves yet somehow they matched and hatched and the whole child-rearing business was over by their mid-40s.
Now many are delaying having kids. Contraception, careers and greater choices for women have meant it’s a lot more common for women to become first-time parents in their late 30s, early 40s or even their 50s. So if you are an older parent through choice or circumstances, what can you expect? The most significant issue for older parents is the energy required in the early years with a baby and toddler, according to Mothercraft nurse Christine Minogue.
In her new book Bringing Baby Home, Christine points out that the age difference between them and their children, the increased likelihood of twins, the possible need for medical assistance and the child having ageing grandparents are all factors for older parents to consider.
‘The benefit is you have a lot of life experience,’ she adds. ‘Older parents understand the importance of predictability, stability and the concept of learning patterns in children. They’ve probably got more patience and understanding.’
But the key challenge for older parents is the chaos that comes with babies. As Christine says, older people are used to living ordered lives and this can create anxiety for new parents. She encourages older parents to slow down their lives, rest and confide in a trusted friend or community nurse if you’re doubting yourself.
‘You need to be kind to your relationships and enjoy the moment you’re in,’ she adds.
Equally, it’s important to be aware that the combination of high expectations, fatigue and lack of control can lead to increased emotions.