What you don’t know won’t hurt you, or so they say…but I have to wonder if I might be at some sort of disadvantage by not being fully disclosed prior to having children. I can remember being pregnant with my first daughter when people would just smile at me and say, “you’re going to love it.” Wouldn’t it have been more accurate to say, “you’re going to love it BUT it will be really hard? Don’t get me wrong, I do love it. I love all three of my babies more than life itself and I adore being a mom BUT it is really tough at times to be a good mom, juggling all the balls that go with that, and still feel like I have a life of my own. Throw work into the mix (which I will need to do again in just a few short weeks when my maternity leave is over) and it can seem practically impossible to find balance. Would I feel better about it had I been fully warned about the challenges that parents are presented with each day? Who knows? But either way, not many people want to burst the bubble of a pregnant lady who sees only cute tiny feet and giggles in her future so there are some things that only us veteran moms and dads understand.
Below is my hard truth about parenthood – a list of things that I wish I had known before having kids and a few words of advice on how I am managing it all. Go ahead and laugh at my expense.
1. Life as you know it is over and not everything is for the better. It will take some getting used to and it is ok to miss your former life. 20 minute showers and having dinner with friends may need to be planned months in advance.
2. If you are not a planner by nature, you will need to become one to keep your sanity. Get a day planner to write down doctor’s appointments, play dates, birthdays, etc. I never had a planner before children and now I could not live without mine.
3. Raising children can put a major strain on relationships if you do not make your other relationships a priority. This goes for friends, family and significant others. Call friends on their birthdays, send a text to your cousin to check in once in a while, and go on a date with your husband.
4. You will make lots of mistakes but that does not make you a bad mom. Human error is inevitable. Learn from your mistakes and it is all good.
5. There will be boatloads of poop…and not just in diapers. I really wish someone would have warned me about this. Do not EVER leave the house without wipes and a change of clothes for every child.
6. Going back to work will not be easy. I had mistakenly believed that returning to my job would be child’s play. I had always worked and did not realize how difficult it would be to do my old job while working full time as a mommy round the clock.
7. Being responsible for another person is scary. Do not be afraid to call your pediatrician at all hours. When in doubt, call even if it is 3 a.m. They will not think you are crazy.
8. You will forget things. Forgetfulness will increase with each child you have. Having kids to look out for takes up brain space and you will forget things that were previously easy to remember such as where your keys are and whether the dishes in the dishwasher are clean or dirty. Make lists and write everything down.
9. You will need rules. Think about and set some “House Rules” early on. I really wish I had done this sooner.
10. Going to bed early is not lame. It is cool…and smart.
11. Sleep in now while you can. Ok, so people may have warned me about the lack of sleep but I was in denial. Take turns with your husband getting up with the kids on weekends so that one of you can sleep in as a treat every now and then.
12. New parenting challenges are presented with each age and milestone so you may never really feel like you know what you are doing. All you can do is to do your best.
13. Your kids will act like you. They will copy and imitate what you do, what you say and how you say it. Be aware of this.
14. Kids are expensive, REALLY expensive. If it’s not diapers and formula, it’s daycare and swimming lessons. People will warn you about the cost of college but not necessarily about the everyday expenses that add up quickly.
15. Being a parent is like being on a roller coaster ride. There are many ups and downs and it may be scary but there is nothing that is more fun. Hold on tight.
What do you wish you had known before having kids?