Becoming a parent is hard, and there are certainly some unexpected surprises. I used to think that I was busy and I now wish that I could transport back in time to tell myself to enjoy my freedom and the little bit of extra money that I had lying around!
Don't get me wrong, being a parent is the best thing in the world and I love almost every minute of it, but many parents like myself didn't quite know all the things we were signing up for, which is why I took a poll to see what most folks took for granted before having a kid. Here is what we miss the most!
Going to the Bathroom Alone
"MOMMY NEEDS A MINUTE!" This is a phrase I utter regularly. It does not take long to pee, and yet, my children and my two 120+ pound dogs all have to quickly rush to the bathroom the moment they hear my butt hit the porcelain. It is astounding.
And during this time, we don't just need to crowd mommy. We also need to reorganize the drawers, turn on the sink, try to climb in the tub or shower, and attempt to flush the toilet, before I am actually ready for that step.
Privacy is non-existent with kids and while you may be thinking "Why don't you just close the door and lock it to give yourself a moment of peace?", that small action will quickly bring a monumental meltdown. They will bang on the door, repeatedly pull at the handle, scream, and of course, peer under the door to make sure that I didn't say dueces and sneak out the window.
Running Quick Errands
This was another one of the top things that moms and dads took for granted before claiming these titles. Running into a store for the one item that you forgot is long gone.
This "quick errand" is now a lengthy 12 step process:
- Change your kids' butts
- Help them get their shoes on
- Load the kids in the car
- Drive to your destination
- Unload them at the store
- Wrangle them into a cart
- Deal with the meltdown that arose because you happenchance turned down the cookie aisle and now your toddler wants them all
- Wait in the checkout line where your kids fight to get out of the cart, or better yet, start throwing items out of the cart
- Actually check out
- Load the kids back in the car
- Drive home
- Unload them once again
This simple task suddenly became an hour excursion. Oh, and don't get me started on the unfortnate moment when you load your child in the car mere minutes after their diaper change only to realize that they have pooped in that brief period of time and now need to be changed again before leaving.
There is a reason why curbside pickup is so popular. Moms and dads live by it.
Naps, and Sleep in General
"Sleep is for the dead." I'm pretty sure that this phrase was coined by a parent because once your little one arrives, sleep seems to be non-existent. Most parents find a groove after large handful of months, but if you love to nap, you can pretty much say that goodbye to this pastime, especially if you have two little ones who can never seem to sync up their slumber times.
I forgot to mention the best part! Your little one will finally start sleeping for 8+ hours a night and you will falsely assume that the worst is over. Flash forward an indeterminant amount of time, because every kid is different, and suddenly new teeth, night terrors, and illnesses will rear their ugly heads, stealing your sleep once again.
Eating a Warm Meal
This was one of the hardest realizations that I had after becoming a parent. Once you baby starts eating solid foods, you become focused on feeding them first and cleaning up the colossal mess they make, and by the time they are done, your food is ice cold.
Then, in the toddler years, you child conveniently gains the ability to feed themselves, but they also gain a very strong opinion about what you served, even if you gave them meal options before you prepared it. This leads to the construction of multiple meals and a few visits to the microwave for your plate of food.
This goes for warm and cold drinks as well. If you want to consume them at their intended temperature, you better get good at chugging. Otherwise, tepid is the new normal.
Any Quiet Moment
Those movie moments where the kids are being crazy and the mom or dad looks like they are about to pull their hair out are surprisingly common. Toddlers specifically LOVE to make noise. The louder the better. They will bang on any surface they find, pour out all their toys, sing, yell, or just simply scream, all for no apparent reason.
Once they get a bit older, the question stage sets in. Toddler parents answer an average of 73 questions A DAY. How ridiculous is that?! There is really never a moment of peace until your kid's heads hit their pillows, which can also be a struggle to make happen.
I'm told that one day the quiet will come and I will miss the noise, but until that day, the noise cancelling headphones my husband bought me are my very best friend in these moments of chaos.
The Music Selection in the Car
Remember the days when you would jam out to your favorite tunes in the car? These cathartic moments are quickly replaced with "Baby Shark, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo!" when kids come into the picture. What is worse is when you find yourself bopping and singling along!
Having Extra Money
I made less than $25,000 in the first few years of my career as a meteorologist. Looking back now, I realize that I had so much extra cash lying around. Now I spend every penny paying for my kids.
And I am not just talking about expected costs like diapers, wipes, formula, and clothes. I am talking about surguries, the exorbinant cost of preschool and extracurriculars, and the ridiculous amount of food that my kids manage to inhale each day.
Being a parent means putting yourself second a lot of the time, so if kids aren't in the picture just yet, take your trips, buy your designer items, and splurge on a nice meal every once in a while!
Making Spontaneous Plans
One of the most frustrating parts of being a parent is explaining to your non-parent friends and family members why you can't just drop everything to head to the bar for a Sunday afternoon drink or have an inpromptu girls' night on a weekday.
Those individuals in our lives who are sans kids cannot seem to understand that childcare is not always waiting at the drop of a hat or that you can't afford the childcare and an outing. Also, let's be crystal clear, you could not pay me to go out with my child on a fun excursion of any kind if it coincides with their naptime. That is sanity suicide.
Our Health and Self-Care
You know things are bad when you wish that you could go back to the moment when you had the flu without kids. Lying in bed all day, drinking hot tea, and watching movies while praying you didn't die from influenza never sounded so good. Think I sound crazy?
Bet you didn't know that toddler and preschool-aged kids get colds eight to 12 times a year. Better yet, once they get better, we parents always seem to suffer the same ailment, while trying to them keep up with our newly energetic kids.
There are no sick days in parenthood. Getting better takes MUCH longer and there is definitely no rest involved in the process.
Becoming a parent also literally means giving up any and all personal space that you may have, and this isn't limited to the bathroom. Your kids will climb all over you during all hours of the day and night.
They will also sneeze in your face, puke in your hands, and pee on you the moment you get them out of the tub. If you want to know what to know before having a baby, one of the biggest surprises that parents note is how clingy their kids are with them and how little personal space they suddenly have.
Don't get me wrong, baby snuggles are simply the best thing ever, but that stage in their life doesn't last for long, and when your baby uses you as a living lovie, it can become quite tiring. It can also make leaving your house a headache for everyone involved.
Being Able to Watch Anything Without Interruptions
I have formed a very close relationship with the pause and rewind buttons on my remote since having kids. It is amazing how loud they can be and how they can sense that you attempting to relax.
The moment you start squatting to sit down and binge your favorite show, the screaming, running, and dumping of toys always seems to begin. Ever wonder why your parents were such big fans of subtitles? It was because they couldn't hear a darn thing on the TV when you were in the room.
Not Sharing Food or Drinks
I need the chip manufacturers to start making a "parent size" bag of chips. This would be somewhere in between a regular bag and an indicvidual bag to ensure that I actually get to eat some of the snack that I selected for myself. While I will always tell my kids that sharing is caring, sometimes I want my snacks all to myself.
Cleaning Once a Week
Children are like tornado outbreaks. Their detsruction can span for miles and you never know exactly what their path may lead or how long their touchdowns will occur. After becoming a parent, I have gained a new definition of cleaning.
I have given up on picking up messes as they arise. If I did, I would never get anything else done. Instead, right before afternoon naps we have a 'clean up hour' to address up the endless number of messes that have ensued since we woke up.
In other words, if you ever stop by someone's house unannounced and they have small children, know that they are not slobs. They just haven't made their daily storm survey just yet.
More Than Anything, Before Becoming a Parent You Take This for Granted
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." This is one of my absolute favorite quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird.
After becoming a parent, you quickly realize that this job is not for the faint of heart, and you get a glimpse into why your parents are the way they are and were the way they were when you were growing up. You see behind the curtain and gain a newfound respect for all that they did for you. You never know the sacrifices and work that a parent puts in until you become one yourself.
Parenting is a tough gig, but it is one that is well worth the effort. While you may not love the uninvited guests during your potty break or the endless mess that appears every hour in your home, embrace every single moment. Most grandparents note that your kids will grow up in the blink of an eye and that you will miss the chaos when it is gone.