I could wax lyrical all day about the joys of having children – from the squidgy newborn snuggles, the toddlers who hug like their life depends on it, to the inquisitive nature of pre-schoolers… But there has to be a balance, a pay off. With all this enormous joy there does come a price. A well worth it price, but a price nonetheless. When you invite little people into your home and heart, there are certain things you will more than likely wave farewell to for a good few years. From personal experience, here are the things I miss-
Long, hot showers
You know the kind, where you can shampoo and condition your hair, maybe put in a treatment, exfoliate every square inch of your body, use the fancy shower gel and just luxuriate under the constant stream of hot water. My 5 year old likes to come and sit on the edge of the bath-tub and chat to me while I shower. She believes I enjoy these little discussions, and the one time she discovered the door was locked she was perplexed. When she asked me why and I replied that I wanted some peace and quiet, she said she could be quiet. So I can’t bring myself to lock the door anymore. She also can’t bring herself to be quiet.
Leaving the house efficiently
I am an organised person. Everything has a place and I like to put things away. I believed I would get the better of this particular obstacle. Pride comes before a fall. I was wrong. It will be impossible to leave the house in under fifteen minutes from a request. Some body will inevitably need a nappy changed as soon as you’ve fought with them to get their coat on, someone else will be bursting for the toilet the moment they’re strapped into the car seat, somebody else will forget to bring the changing bag/snacks/toys etc. No matter how prepared you think you are, when little people are involved there will always be an unforeseen situation.
Eating junk food openly
This is where the do as I do and not as I say statements come into play. All very well and good when you’re preaching the virtues of sharing and being kind to one another; not so easy when you’ve had a rough day and are just itching to break out the chocolate hob-nobs but you know if you do, they’ll want some. And you can hardly tell them it’s one rule for you and one rule for them on the healthy eating front. So what you need to do is stash chocolate all over the house in unusual places and practice eating covertly behind a cupboard door. You may laugh at me now, but clearly you don’t have kids yet.
Opinions on parenting
You know the kind, “Oh when I’m a parent I will never allow my children to watch television” and “I will make all my own home made organic baby food from scratch every single day and never let as much as a fruit pot pass their precious little lips”. Once you’re in the parenting game, you realise quickly that you do whatever works to get you and your little family through the day so that everyone ends up safe, healthy and happy at the end. There is nobody giving out medals at the checkout to the parents who don’t buy the pre-packed baby food for back up.
Inevitably when a parent is sick, it will be on a weekend. For some reason viruses wait to strike a parent down just as soon as they have full care of their offspring. And their children will either be incredibly hyper the entire time Mammy or Daddy fights off the cold, or succumb themselves and make a nurse maid of you. The halcyon days of old where you could ring in sick to work, camp out on the sofa with a hot water bottle, duvet and TV remote control are long gone. There is no such thing as a sick day for a parent. Life goes on.
Do you remember the holiday where you lounged on a sun bed, alternating your time between a dip in the pool, a drink at the pool side bar and reading your book? Hang on to those memories as holidays with kids are not so relaxing. They can be fun, and exciting of course but relaxing they are not. Anytime spent in the pool will be in the company of inflatable toys, pool side drinks will necessitate toilet trips with children already in wet clothes (not fun) and who has time to read a book when you’re trying to keep an eye on the sprogs to make sure they’re safe?
Kids cost money, we all know that. And of course, hopefully, money will continue to come into your household. What you don’t see coming is that what disposable income you do have, you will always want to spend it on the kids. You will walk into a department store to buy yourself something and suddenly find yourself in the children’s section. Buying something for your little one and seeing their face light up is worth more than buying something for yourself.
Worry free existence
You will never know a worry free moment again. From the moment you now you are expecting your first baby, the world suddenly seems full of dangers you didn’t fully appreciate before. Perils lurk at every corner and it sometimes seems impossible to manage to raise healthy, happy children with all there is to take into consideration. But you will manage; learn to weigh up the anxieties with the practicalities. It doesn’t mean you will drop worrying though, my mother says it never, ever stops.
Babies and small children tend to operate on their own schedule and have no respect for GMT and the normal sleep habits of adults. You will suddenly find that having breakfast at 6:15 on the weekends is the norm and a 5pm dinner is no longer classed as “early”. I have been told that when they get to be teenagers this all changes and they can be a nightmare to get out of bed. I am living for that stage.
While your home will shortly be over-run by soft, cuddly toys for snuggling there will be no need for them for you. A warm, soft little body will always find their way into your lap and cuddle into you just as they are meant to. Fitting perfectly in beside your heart.