No matter how many parenting books you may read or how many people you may ask for advice, nothing can fully prepare you for becoming a parent. Think back to before you had children and to what your life was like, and to how different your life is now.
If you could go back in time to tell yourself what you would experience after your child was born – the truth about becoming a parent – what would you say?
1. You WILL survive the first few months.
After a few months of trying to calm a seemingly inconsolably crying baby, living with an erratic sleep schedule that includes waking up every two hours, and imagining that you somehow “broke” your baby, you can survive anything.
2. You may never fully recover the sleep you’ve lost.
Your sleep schedule may get better for a while, but then new adventures start: Your child having middle-of-the-night nightmares or crawling into bed with you, and getting your child up in time for school, and the sleepless nights you’ll spend worrying. Sleep will become a luxury that you’ll truly miss.
3. Children are expensive.
Some costs you can plan, such as diapers, when your child is young. Other expenses can come out of nowhere. Daycare, baby sitters, school field trips, extracurricular activities…and college – the list is endless.
4. There is no such thing as too many photos.
When your child is young, you’ll likely try to capture every moment. That’s good. Your child will grow up much faster than you can anticipate, so you don’t want to regret not having photographs from your child’s younger years.
5. You don’t need to say goodbye to your social life.
It will just be different. You’ll learn to rely on time management skills. Play dates with children of parents whose kids are similar in age to your child’s age may take up a good chunk of your calendar, but with planning you’ll still be able to have an “adult” social life, separate from your child’s.
6. It can become a mission to go anywhere.
You need to be prepared for anything. Remember when you could simply run to the store to pick up a few items? When you have young children, you need to pack snacks, budget for dillydallying time, buckle car seats, and any number of additional steps, turning what had been a five-minute trip into a significantly larger expedition.
7. Your children become your world, your “everything.”
You can’t imagine life any other way.