When I was considering all the many, many things that I wish I’d known before children, it occurred to me that, this list shouldn’t only be recorded from my own perspective. Instead, as co-owner of the children, I should also include things that my partner-in-parenting wishes he had known before having children.
Co-parenting vs Full-time Parenting
My husband’s parenting journey began before mine did. But I think it’s fair to say that the shit only became real when we were the full-time parents of two little girls.
When you co-parent with an ex that you don’t live with anymore, you do actually get lie-ins, and time to yourself. I’m not saying it’s easy to co-parent because it is flippen hard, and I have huge respect for anyone who solo parents for any amount of time. But let’s be honest … you do get a break when you hand your child(ren) off to the co-parent. No doubt well deserved.
But I haven’t had a break for 7 & 1/2 years. That’s about 91 months … 394 weeks. Yes, I’m counting.
When you have to parent full-time, all the time, with no breaks, or pauses, or time-outs, that’s when you really get to reflect on life before children.
So, with that in mind, here are the top 10 things We wish we had known before children:
I wish I’d known about all the laundry
Holy shit! There is no end to the amount of laundry that builds up. And it gets worse with each child you produce. I put a picture up on Instagram last week showing an old fashioned washing machine from back before there was even running water in houses, and I literally would have died. And if you think it gets easier after the baby stage is over, trust me, it does not! Think: 3 children who go to school, they all do some kind of PE or sporting activity twice a week, and wear pyjamas. That’s just one day. Nevermind the husband who works outdoors in construction so think: mud and dirt. Nevermind your own clothes too.
It’s not all rain and mud that creates dirt on clothing either. It’s the things that you don’t even consider to be things, that are contributing factors. Like yoghurt, Oreos, or the elusive purple marker! Trust me! Laundry is one of the things I never realised would dominate so much of my life after having children, but it really does. I scan the weather forecast, not because it’s good to know in general, but so I know whether I’ll be hanging the washing outside or running the poor tumble dryer again.
We wish we’d known that our holidays would never be the same again.
Gone are the care-free holiday planning that was life before children! Oh no! Those days are gone!
The last time we went on a exciting, adventurous, and also relaxing holiday was my husband’s 30th! He is now 42! My 30th was spent with a 3 month old baby attached to me. His 40th was spent … I can’t even remember!!! And it was only 2 years ago.
We had an amazing diving holiday to the red sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh. It was brilliant. We went diving, we swam with Nemo, I lost a year of my life when I saw a manta ray gliding below me. It was magical! We even went looking for hammerhead sharks, saw a turtle eating a jellyfish, and then had a fight 10 meters under the water!
Good times. Memories that have definitely sustained us through many sleepless nights of co-sleeping with a child who ‘couldn’t sleep’.
What you don’t know before children is that when planning a holiday after children, there are a few requirements that dominate your planning:
- When are the school holidays?
- Where can we afford to take 5 people on holiday?
- How long can we go that it’s worth the money but we won’t kill each other because it’s been too long?
- Do they have facilities for children AND a teenager? [What WE want doesn’t really factor into it.]
- Does mommy have to cook?
- Is there a washing machine or laundry service available?! (See above issues!)
- Do they allow alcohol?
Leaving The House
Yes! You heard that right. Before children, when you want to leave the house, you put your coat on, pick up your handbag and car keys, and you … wait for it … you leave the house.
After children, life is very different! I wish I’d known just how difficult it would be to simply leave the house after having children.
I wish I had known before children that eating out is something I would miss. It is definitely something I know I took for granted. The ability to go into any establishment you want to, without having to consider any of the following:
- Size of the table you’re seated at.
- Distance from the table to the toilet area.
- Whether you are seated next to people who DON’T have children with them, otherwise you’ll spend the entire meal on the defensive.
- Do they have colouring in pages and crayons, and fish fingers or chicken nuggets on the menu?
- Do they serve children’s drinks in a plastic cup with a lid on, or a sealed no-spill bottle?
Before children, you think you won’t be one of those people. But in real life, you will. I promise!
Eating In i.e. Getting a Take-Away
Yes! I shit you not!
At some point you realise that eating out is something you just can’t really face anymore, so you think eating in is easier. It is in some ways because you don’t have the judgy child-free people next to you, and your children can go to the loo without you. However, nothing in life is easy after children, so even getting a takeaway is hard.
This one doesn’t like the chips like that. That one doesn’t want that brand of tomato sauce. The other one’s chicken nuggets are suddenly ‘spicy’. And the reality is that by the time everyone’s food has been dished out, and juice poured, and knocked over and cleaned up again, your food will most likely be cold and congealed and it probably would just have been easier to have cooked dinner. Again.
Having Nice Things
They try to warn you, they try to tell you, but somehow this piece of advice never penetrates before you have kids. Let me break it down for you: After Children, you will never have nice things. Thinks like nice furniture, and nice cars. Even if you are misguided enough to buy the nice things, they won’t stay nice for very long. Especially the cars.
I’d go as far as to say that the damage that children inflict on their owner’s (daddy’s) previously nice car, is the one thing, that if he had known, or realised would happen after children, he’d not have had any. Children that is.
Or am I?
There is no such thing as personal space after you have children. None! Accept it. And just move on.
Children cost money! It really doesn’t even matter if you earn minimum wage, or a huge 6 figure salary. Whatever money you do have, becomes theirs. Your lifestyle will expand to fit your budget. There will ALWAYS be something more that the children need. And that’s before you take into consideration what they want.
Weekends before children used to be about how much sleep one could get vs how much TV you could watch.
I just want to sleep so much that I can be bored of sleeping, and then not have to catch up on an extra 5 loads of laundry as a result!
I miss being bored.
Another thing I never realised about life before children, was just how much of my time I would spend waiting for them.
I don’t mean longing for them to come into my life. I mean literally waiting for them.
- In the car before and after school.
- On the side of the sports field, no matter the weather!
- Watching swimming lessons.
- Waiting for them to finish their dinner, 10 minutes after everyone else.
- Watching them put their shoes on ‘by myself’.
This is the real reason that someone invented the smartphone!
When my husband and I decided to start out little family, we lived very close to my parents. In fact, by the time our youngest was on the way, we were living on the same property as my mom! We thought we had it made! Babys-sitters delux!
And then we moved!
I can honestly say that the one thing I DID know about life after children before I had them, was that I would want support from family.
Yet somehow that one still came back to bite us in the butt. We now live nowhere near ANY family!
So it appears that adults, are just as bad as kids. You always think you know everything, then life happens and you realise you knew jack shit! And if you did actually know the right thing, you still manage to not listen to yourself! Maybe that’s where the kids get it from.
What do you wish you had known before children? Let me know in the comments.
Remember to share this with anyone who is considering having kids. Or even better – they’re already knocked up. That way it’s fun to watch them squirm when they realise they may be in over their heads but it’s too late to do anything about it!
If you have a minute and want to see what some other awesome bloggers wish they had known about life before children here are their links:
- Nicole from Tales From Mamaville : Self-care? Seriously – what’s that?
- Helen from Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee: she also likes fancy cars but realises it’s just a dream now.
- Helen from The Mulberry Bush: She hits the nail on the head about how friends who don’t have kids, just don’t get it! lol
- Josie from Me, Them and The Others: huge flashbacks to 2-hour playtime after midnight feeds! Thanks for that.
- Tracey from The Desperate HouseWife: Yup, I haven’t worn heels for 7 years, and I’m okay with that!
- James from You Have To Laugh (our Write Club founder): Stealth mode – I really didn’t know I had it in me!
- Erica from The Incindental Parent: The horror of themed dress-up days at school! Yes!
- Anna from Me Annie Bee: I also hate Peppa Effing Pig!!
- Jenny from The Accidental Hipster Mum: YES to online shopping!
- Kate from The Mum Conundrum: Picking & Choosing when and who to socialise with! Yes!
- Chanene from Tonic & Tiaras: She’s just plain funny!