I’m fairly certain every first-time parent romanticizes the arrival of their little one to some extent.
Before their child is even born, a mom makes elaborate plans of the things she will do with her baby in tow.
Even a dad will fantasize about those baseball games he’s going take his little tyke to, right from the get go. But how realistic are those plans and expectations? Can we maintain life as it is once a baby enters our world? The short and simple answer is no. Becoming a parent throws you a curveball most of us won’t catch on our first try. Sometimes it takes a few tries – but other times you never catch that ball no matter how hard you try.
Read on for 21 Surprising Things You’ll Never Do Again (Or Little Of) Once You’re A Parent.
21. Sleep In (Or Ever Sleep Again For That Matter)
Remember all those friends who suggested to sleep when the baby sleeps? They did that for a reason. In just the first year of your baby’s life you’ll lose an estimated 350 hours of sleep or more – that’s more than 2 weeks’ straight worth of rest. If you want to measure your current state of sleep deprivation, pop over to the Lost Sleep Calculator for a reality check. Even if you get lucky with a baby who absolutely adores sleep (I’ve heard those kids exist – but then again, some people believe in unicorns, too), they’ll be a toddler soon and with that come huge sleep regressions right around the 18 month mark. This is so well documented that some have even put together some 18 Month Old Sleep Survival Techniques.
To cut straight to the point – kids sleep OK for a while, then regress, then get older, then regress while loudly protesting and then suddenly you have a teenager you’re waiting for to come home from the bar. Take away for currently pregnant mamas? Get your sleep now ‘cause it’ll be the only thing Resting In Peace soon.
20. Judge Others Parents (OK Maybe Sometimes)
We’ve all rolled our eyes at that lady ahead of us at the grocery store with the screaming kids. What could be worse? Oh right, being on an intercontinental flight next to a family with twins.
One very good thing about becoming a parent yourself is that you’ll never judge a parent in that kind of situation again. You’ve got the inside scoop and the more you speak to other parents, the more you realize you’re in this sh*t together. In fact, when you pass by a mom or dad trying to contain their child’s meltdown in a public place, your eyes will likely meet and you’ll give each other a silent nod of acknowledgement. Unless, of course, that other parent is being violent. That is never OK.
19. Turn Down That Trip To The Grocery Store Alone
To understand this point, I first need to mention that time alone will be a rare, rare thing for you, especially as a mother. Needy babies and clingy toddlers will consume your mental and physical body. And your partner? Well, they’ll try to get theirs, too.
What does a person do when they can’t find time to be alone and breathe?
You volunteer to do the things you probably wouldn’t have before kids – like taking out the garbage or going to the store to get a week’s worth of groceries. Personally, it’s been my favourite thing to do, this uninterrupted walk up and down the aisles of a store. In fact, I’ve gone to a store for 2 hours before and walked out with just a box of diapers afterwards – woops. Needless to say, we ate crackers that week.
18. Think You Were Out Of Shape Before Kids
We all know most mothers will gain weight while pregnant, but did you know that even if a woman keeps active and gains just the recommended 25-35 lbs, her body composition will likely never be the same again after kids? One study that compared the subcutaneous fat composition of moms at various points before pregnancy and 6 weeks postpartum found that the fat continuously shifted around the body. This means it may appear in a totally different spot after a child than it was initially when you got pregnant. So even though your scale could say you lost a significant amount of weight once that baby is out, the truth is – your body will never have the same measurements again.
Did you also know that your partner gaining sympathy weight is a documented thing? It’s called Couvade Syndrome and dads worldwide have been to their doctor complaining about not just unexplained weight gain, but feelings of lethargy and even nausea. Throw in a lot of less time to work out after kids and you’ll be especially teary-eyed when you look at photos of your body before these little tykes took over your life.
17. Have Sex (Unless You’re Thinking About Another Kid)
I know, I know – everyone already told you you’d be having less sex once married. I’m here to tell you that they lied. The real sex killer is children. According to anonymous answers given to the question “How Often Do You Have Sex After Children?” on Reddit, most sadly experience a stark decline in sexual activity once they enter parenthood. One person in this poll even stated the only time they get frisky is when his partner is ovulating. Ouch.
Before you get all depressed, though, it’s vital to remember – it’s a natural phase in life where you may not feel so hot to get down. Instead of being bogged down about the lack of intimacy between you and your partner now that baby is around, know that you will eventually have more time as a couple. After all, they have summer camps for kids under the age of 1, right?
16. Take A Pee Alone
A little bit funny, probably not the most hygienic, but extremely likely to happen – and never stop. For some reason you become a real babe-magnet whenever you decide to head to the washroom. It’s like those little crawlers can smell you in your tracks – literally. Even once they become toddlers, kids are notoriously known for boldly slamming the bathroom door open and asking you the most random things.
I still haven’t figured out why little kids love sticking their little hands under the door so much, either, but chances are, you’ll see your share of this phenomenon, too. No wonder my husband goes into the basement bathroom and locks the door when he goes. I foresee this one never really stopping even once they’re teens, since they’ll just barge in sharing all the latest gossip about something or other with you then, too.
15. Have The Same Reaction To News Or Movies Involving Kids
Once you’ve experienced the bond you have with your child, certain things will really tug at your heart, but nothing as much as watching the news or a movie where a child gets hurt. Mama and Papa Bear Syndrome is a real thing. I’ve personally had to take a news hiatus while my babes were very little.
Overnight, it’ll seem like your compassion for all the children in the world has grown exponentially – no matter if they live in your own neighbourhood or in a country halfway across the world.
14. Sweat The Small Stuff
Ask any seasoned parent and they’re likely to agree that parenting beats any job they’ve taken on in life in not just terms of compensation (love…not money, I wish) but also difficulty. It’s hard, people. Really hard. Your sleep is compromised, you’re not sure when you showered last, and you can’t take a sick day being responsible for a little human who is utterly dependant on you. You need to pay bills, keep the house remotely clean (or whatever ‘cleanliness’ counts for after kids) and figure out what food your picky kid will actually consume without chucking it at your head. This is multitasking at its finest.
You take on so many roles as parent, friend, referee, cook, and therapist that you are likely to feel overwhelmed at some point or another. The good thing here? Things that used to shake you to the core before kids will eventually just bounce off of you postpartum. This includes unsolicited advice from strangers (bless them for they don’t know any better), a huge traffic jam when it’s just you in the car, or wearing the same clothes for several days in a row.
13. Arrive Anywhere On Time
Are you the kind of person who always forgets that tumbler of coffee on your way out the door in the morning? I hate to tell you this, but chances are you’re going to forget a lot more when your little bundle arrives. Pre-gaming takes on a whole new meaning when you become a parent. You really have to be organized before heading out of your house or else things will unravel quite quickly.
Between ensuring you and your child are dressed for the elements, your diaper bag is packed (bottle, soother, diapers, wipes, diaper cream, extra change of clothes, snacks, toys, hand sanitizer, tissues) and your purse, if you have one, has all the essentials in it (keys, wallet, hand cream, concealer for those under-eye circles), you’re bound to forget one thing. Whether that’s a toy your child can’t do without or that phone you accidentally left in the fridge, you’ll have to turn back halfway to your destination 50% of the time – so plan ahead.
12. Take A Sick Day
Ah yes, the days of just being able to lay around all day, especially when sick. I mean, how else would you get better, unless you got undisturbed rest? You’re probably more likely to win the lottery than take a sick day in the first 4 years of your child’s life.
Unless you have a really good support system in place, you may want to stock up your medicine cabinet. And if you’re a mom and breastfeeding…well, there are even less things for you to safely take to feel better quicker. My recommendation? Earplugs.
11. Take A Good Friend For Granted
In our life we pass through phases that introduce us to new friends and filter out old ones. Parenthood in its onset is like the ultimate sieve, separating shallow friends from those who will actually do your dirty laundry for you. But what most of us don’t know – or don’t talk about enough – is that as many as 54% of us will feel completely friendless during that first year postpartum.
I know personally that being the primary caretaker of a child can cause days of extreme loneliness. In fact, a survey taken by over 2,000 UK mothers found that a staggering 92% felt more lonely since welcoming their child into the world. The survey found that even once a child began school, other “cliquey and bitchy” moms made 51% feel excluded. Take away for those of you without kids? Reach out to friends that just became parents and don’t assume they will be too busy for you.
10. Take Those Skydiving Lessons (Or Participate In Any Other Extreme Sports)
Unless extreme sports are the way you make your living, you’ll probably feel the deepest guilt even thinking about going on a mountain bike ride on difficult terrain. And the days of grinding down that rail on your skateboard? They’re gone.
That’s probably because you know what a potential injury could mean for your child – a messed up routine and no one to take over the daily responsibilities if you end up in the hospital.
9. Look At Your Partner The Same Way
I am probably the worst guest to invite to your wedding if you don’t have kids yet. It’s because I know what life after children does to those rose-tinted glances a childless bride and groom give each other. Sure, there will be times you will embrace your partner in a frisky way after kids – but those times will be much more rare. Life is just not romantic after kids, y’all.
One dad gave his brutally honest reflection on marriage after three children by admitting it often feels like you’re just business partners or roomies with your spouse. Silver lining here? Finding the beauty in the chaos. You may not look at your partner the same way you once did, but your level of respect and love will only deepen the more you work at raising your children together. One day the kids will be gone and I personally think it’s the cutest seeing a middle-aged couple all over each other.
8. Look At Your Own Parents The Same Way
One of the very first things I remember feeling after my first child was born was this profound respect for my own mom. I felt like calling her right there and then to apologize for all the times I misbehaved or hurt her feelings. After all, she had also given birth once upon a time – and then raised these wildlings she birthed.
As the months go by, you start reflecting on how your own parents went through the exact stages you are going through right now. Becoming a parent yourself is definitely something that gifts you the ability the look at things from various perspectives.
7. Put Yourself First
Regular visits to the gym, drinks with the boys, nail appointments and sadly, even showers will become pretty tricky to schedule with kids in tow. It’s not even that it’s difficult to do those things while holding a baby – it’s that the money these things usually cost will go to items like diapers, formula and toys.
As much as I believe in the need of a mom or dad to take care of themselves, we usually end up last on the list of priorities. Get ready to eat a lot of cold food while you tend to your kid’s dinner first – because even if you consciously intend to have meals together, life will often have a different plan for you.
6. Make Any Decision Without Thinking About Your Kids First
Another way to describe this point is to say you’ll never make spontaneous plans again with a baby in your life – at least not the sort that exclude your child. I think this area is one of the biggest I’ve personally struggled with when becoming a mom. It makes it even harder when you don’t have a lot of friends who are parents yet and can’t understand why it’s impossible for you to drop all plans and head out for an impromptu dinner or even brunch date. Doesn’t everyone know babies need naps or all hell breaks loose?
Whether you realize it or not, even your daily outfit choices or emotional reactions to things will be questioned by your conscience since you’ll wonder how a particular choice of yours may affect your child in the long-term. The bond between you and that little tyke is much deeper than just what is seen on the surface.
5. Read (Your Own) Books Regularly
I don’t know about you, but reading books was always my saving grace in pre-kid days. It didn’t matter what kind of stressful day I had – I knew I could sprawl out on my bed at the end of it and delve deep into a story that would take me on a mental trip far, far away.
Leave it to me to burst that bubble – but to drive it home again, time alone is so rare that you’ll likely not want to read a book with the 5 minutes a day you get to sit by yourself in peace. If you do pick up a book, I dare you to try and not fall asleep. I dare you!
4. Keep Your Home Spick And Span
If you currently follow a parent on your social media accounts that makes parenting seem like a walk in the park – I urge you to please be critical about what you see. Realize that people naturally just like looking at pretty photos and that visuals like that typically don’t reflect the state of their home on the regular.
In fact, I take my own photos in the most clutter-free areas or just shove everything to the side before attempting to shoot. With babies, diaper stations on every floor of your house will save you time and hassle, and unfortunately, those baby items naturally also end up trailing all over the place. Dishes, laundry and random stuff will accumulate quicker than you have the chance to clean up – so take a breather and realize most of our homes look super dishevelled with kids.
3. Schedule Anything Without A Calendar Or Planner
Remember when I mentioned how much sleep you’ll lose in just the first year of meeting your baby? What comes hand in hand with that sleep deprivation is what seems like an eternal state of fogginess in the brain. Both parents experience it, but this so called baby-brain has actually been proven by scientists to last for years particularly in a mother after her child is born.
And what does it lead to? Well, forgetfulness for one. Investing in a personal planner is probably your safest bet, in addition to making lists. Don’t assume that once your kids are older this need will go away. At that point you’ll need to balance even more – like work and school schedules, in addition to extra-curricular activities and potential trips.
2. Be Awake Past 9 PM On Purpose
When you’re regularly up very early in the day (think 5 AM) and hardly get a break (since even if your child naps, you’ll likely spend that time doing dishes, laundry or making food), your energy level truly takes a toll by the evening. The time right after your little one is in bed is often the only personal time you get in the day – but I have never in my life sat through a full episode on Netflix past 9 PM without passing out.
Even if you ever get the chance to go out on the town to shake loose from all that parenting, your yawns will betray you quicker than you can take that first tequila shot.
1. Take Yourself As Seriously As Before Kids
As you can see, once you’re responsible for another little life, literally everything changes. But as drastic as the points above may sound to all of you still expecting, it’s amazing how quickly you actually get accustomed to these things.
And the best part? You’re ushered into the secret society of parents all around the world that use laughter as a coping mechanism for the tougher days. There really isn’t much you can’t tackle once you’re a parent and most of us do loosen up more with every child we have.