Friday, August 7, 2015

Top ten things I wished I’d known about having kids before I had kids.

1. You are never going to sleep well again. If you have an easy baby you will be sleep deprived for the first couple of weeks or months. If you don’t have an easy baby, you may never get to sleep through the night again. And once you get them sleeping through the night, you are still up half the night worrying about them.

2. I had no idea how much time would be spent cleaning up after other people, while still having a house that looks like a tornado hit it. The usual advice is helpful enough “put things away after you use them” or “tidy up every day.” But those are kind of irrelevant when you have a tiny tornado following you around.
Kids love making messes.  And eating off the floor.

3. Your kids come with their own personality and agenda. Every once and while your agenda and your child’s will line up. For the most part, they won’t. For example, you want to go . . . anywhere. You would like all your children to have shirts, pants and hopefully shoes. Matching and clean optional. They would like to mainline sugar while watching the most annoying YouTube videos in existence. 

4. That brings us to inborn personality. I used to come down more towards the nurture side of the nature vs nurture debate. I thought, you give your kids the things they need to learn, and lovingly guide them through life and they turn out how you expected. Feel free to laugh uproariously at this. Yeah, again, they want to watch TV and play on the tablet and you want them to get straight A’s and eat their vegetables.
5. Forget halfway decent furniture until your kids go to college. I thought I was so awesome because my first two kids were one and a half and three and we still had a decent house and furniture that didn’t have that “early garage sale” look going on. Two more kids later, and kids that have the coordination and destructive impulses to match and our furniture is trashed. 
This is why I can't have nice things!

6. You will take a metric ton of pictures. Then you will gaze longingly through your pictures, while thinking you should have taken more. If you are pregnant (or possibly hormonal) you will sob through this. Don’t worry; it’s all part of the process. 

7. Being pregnant is not an experience that I was ever in control of. I thought it would go down something like: I eat all organic food, I run every day, and I gain the right amount of weight, all my adorable baby tummy. Oh, and people fall all over themselves to do everything for me so I can take tons of naps. The reality goes more like: I had such horrible morning sickness that there were times I actually wanted to die. I would lie in bed and pet my dog, and just try to get through another moment of feeling like death. I ate anything and everything. Because the baby needed food and I had to give it to them. I did actually run, until my body refused to move that way anymore. Unfortunately, that did not prevent me from ballooning up like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon. 
Pregnant me.

8. Do not ignore the advice to take care of yourself. It will be easy to feed the baby before you feed yourself, or spend all of your time cleaning and not get to the things that you want to do. I often tell my kids, when they ask why we have to go to the gym “Do you want nice mommy or grouchy mommy?” I am definitely grouchy mommy without the gym. You can give to others what you yourself don’t have, so recharge your batteries. 

9. Find someone you trust to take care of your kids sooner rather than later. I never left my first two with anyone, except my mom or my sister, until my oldest started school. It was a couple of weeks after his third birthday! He is very extroverted and my husband and I are. . . not. Interacting with him all day was exhausting. He mostly started preschool so he could talk to someone else for two hours a day. (and get an education and hang out with other kids, and all that other good stuff) 

10. This goes along with number 8, but don’t give up your own hobbies in favor of your children’s. It’s nice if they watch your favorite TV shows (Curious George, perhaps), but eventually, you will have time to spend on yourself. Keeping up with your stamp collecting will give you something to do with all that time on your hands. 
My hobby is badly taken selfies.  Also, running.

11. Teach your children to clean up after themselves. They won’t do it, unless you are a tidy person or a magician, but at least you will know you tried.

(Yes, I know I said 10 and there are 11.)