By now everyone ought to know that having children is no walk in the park. PICTURE: Scott Webb

By now everyone ought to know that having children is no walk in the park.

No matter how ready you are to welcome your offspring into the world nothing could ever prepare you for the real deal. Along with the blissful adventure of parenthood comes parenting challenges in raising children at different ages. 

Every child has a personality of their own and from the tender age of one-year-old well until the stages of adolescence they require love, guidance, support and a helpful hand in becoming adults who add value to society when they eventually fly the coop.

Challenges of parenting an infant:
If the reality of being a parent hasn’t sunk in by the time you’ve given birth then wait until the doctor gives you the green light to take your new bundle of joy home. According to Tshego Lepule, 28, working mother to a five-year-old son named Tshepang, she didn’t see the hype of loving her child instantly. This could also raise the question of whether or not a mother has postpartum depression which could affect the natural bonding progress between mother and newborn. Although I'm sure she wouldn't change a thing about having her son, it isn't unheard of for new mothers to find it difficult to bond with their newborn.    

Sleepless nights, constant crying, tender nipples due to breast feeding and countless diaper changes have become the epitome of your existence. If your state of exhaustion isn’t enough to drive you insane, consider the following. 

“One day she was on the boob the whole day. It made no sense because she wanted to drink the entire day. I ended up sitting on the stability ball because my body and butt started to ache from sitting in one position. I eventually Googled and read an article about clustered feeding. This happens at 10 days old which evidently she was. I had her on the boob for hours. When the torture eventually ended my nipples were pointing in different directions. I wish someone had given me a heads up on this phenomenon”, says Sharon Thomas lecturer and mother to a healthy daughter named Nicole who just celebrated her 3rd birthday. Another challenge experienced by Marchelle Abrahams, 37 mother to a eight-year-old son named Isa and two-year-old daughter named Layla was getting her children into a routine – which I’m sure many mothers can identify with.    

Trying to cope with the pressure of being a first time mom, the sudden resentment you might feel towards your spouse and the realization of not being able to squeeze into your favourite pre-pregnancy denims may seem like the end of the world. If that isn’t enough to test your sanity then trying to run a household as well, will do just that.  

Challenges of parenting a toddler between the ages of 1 and 3 years:
By now your toddler ought to be in full exploration mode, wanting to climb, touch, taste and put everything their little hands can get hold of in their mouths. This is the stage where their cognitive development is in full swing and has parents running after them on a regular basis. 

Children appear to be difficult due to their lack of communication skills and may throw tantrums because of their frustrations. Simonay Lombard, 23, general administrator and mother to a beautiful daughter named Alarna aged two has her hands full with the temper tantrums her daughter has and the fact that she is constantly ignored by her daughter makes for a constant power struggle between the two.

Shanaaz Stofberg, 41 working mother of two son's 14-year-old Shadley and 6-year-old Haroon – expressed her greatest parenting challenge she had with raising her her boys; bear in mind that all children are different and develop at different rates was embedding healthy eating habits within her children. She often had to disguise veggies just to get them to eat it as children are naturally repellent to greens.

Another challenge she experienced was having to negotiate bedtime. As a mother she had to lead by example and pretend to go to bed as well. So the entire household had to jump into bed with lights out for about 30 minutes before being able to resume with the rest of their evening.         

She continues as stating language control as another parenting challenge she endured. She received loads of calls from the nanny because her little one used the word f*ck in every sentence. Why you may ask? It was part of mom’s vocabulary proving that children are intuitive and pay close attention to the mannerisms and speech of their parents.  

Challenges of parenting a preschooler between the ages of 3 and 6 years:
Unlike a toddler your child is now more assertive, helpful around the house, more friendly and may even recognize their mistakes. Although witnessing their development and watching them shape into their own unique person is remarkable it doesn’t come without its own uphill battles. 

Janice Johannes, 35 working mother of two boys Lucas aged nine and Sasha aged six encouraged them to have a strong sense of self. Growing up she wanted them to embrace their naturally curly hair. Today she has difficulty getting them to the barber. There is a lack of role models for boys when it comes to being natural and embracing your hair. I didn’t want my boys growing up thinking they had to relax or straighten their hair because of the views of society, she said. By encouraging them to be themselves and treating them with love and respect enables the development of respect and tolerance for other human beings in general.  

At this point children start to question everything around them especially where babies come from or why girls and boys are different from one another. It is your job as a parent to tell them the truth without giving unnecessary details; they’ll learn that on a later stage. For first-time parents you might not want to see your baby grow up but you cannot hinder the ageing process.