I really feel like we are in a sweet spot with our kids' ages. They are much more independent, yet still adorable and love to be with us. At 5 and nearly 7, our lives look so different then those oh-so-hard early years, for reasons expected & surprising.
1) Independence. They can play on their own or together for large stretches of times. This means we can do our own thing, or at least work together on chores instead of one person having to constantly be on "kid duty". Mornings are so much easier, too. They wake up and play until breakfast is ready. Then they go up themselves and brush teeth & change clothes & play until its time for school. They can go to the bathroom on their own, completely and totally.
I can't even express what a game-changer this is, in terms of being able to relax and enjoy our time together in addition to getting things done. There were several days this fall where I even worked from home while the kids were there! Without having to resort (too much) to screen time.
2) Actual fun. The things they want to do with us (and they still DO want to play with us, a lot) are actually fun! Playing boardgames like chess and checkers (we got rid of the inanity of CandyLand) is FUN for me. Racing each other at the park (and them actually winning sometimes even when I try), cooking/baking together when they actually can do things (they can crack eggs, level measuring cups, etc...), working on large (500 piece) puzzles, watching movies we ALL enjoy (though they mostly want to watch Lego Starwars yoda chronicles over and over). It helps that the two of us like different things, so I'll play chess and G will do legos (ugh).
3) Advanced thinking. Anticipating something and planning for it adds so much joy to the event. For L's birthday this year, B wanted to buy him a present with his own money, and picked a day he had off from school to go to the store. For the next few weeks, there were whispered conversations (because he just HAD to talk to me about the present when L was around), and giggling plans. B also helps me plan our weekends, meal plan (he'll look through cook books and show me things...they are usually deserts, but he gets the point). They both like looking at the calendar and counting down until fun events. And then they are able to remember details---more than I ever could---and live to relive our memories over and over, stretching out the enjoyment even more.
4) Challenging conversations. I actually love navigating their questions about politics, race, how babies get out, science, etc... They ask really interesting questions and demand an honest answer. I love being the one to shape their early views and get to hear their own (naive but thoughtful) perspective on things.
This is the part of parenting I'm best suited for and I'm loving and savoring it. I was not really a "baby mom" or a "toddler mom" and I have no idea how I'll feel about being the mom of a teen (ha ha, not "teen mom"), so I'm really glad we have a few more years in this little-big-kid stage.