I don’t believe there is anything out there that can possibly prepare a person for the reality of becoming a parent. So many things change, some for the better and some for the worse, and each parent’s situation is unique, so the degree of that change varies from parent to parent. What may be true for your friend or family member, might not even apply to your own situation. Parenting changes a lot of things, and I know it changed a lot of things for myself.
I Became Motivated
Prior to getting pregnant with my first child, I had dropped out of high school. Part of this was laziness, part of this was a lack of motivation. I didn’t see a point in continuing to go to school if I didn’t plan to go to college. At that point in my life, I had no career goals. I didn’t know what I wanted to do next week, let alone in the distant future. Getting pregnant helped me realize just how important an education was. I didn’t want to be like so many girls I knew in the community with a few kids, no diploma, no GED and living off of child support and welfare. That wasn’t the life I wanted for myself or my child. For that reason, I made the choice to finish high school. Ironically, I completed all of my high school graduation requirements six months before I was originally supposed to graduate.
My Friendships Changed
This change is one that I have noticed many other parents comment on. When you become a parent, especially at a young age, your friendships and the dynamics of friendships change. I found myself not wanting to spend time with some of the people I had spent time with prior to becoming a parent. Activities that I used to enjoy doing with my friends, didn’t appeal to me anymore. I found myself wanting to spend more time with others like me; parents.
Money Became Tighter
I never considered myself “broke” prior to becoming a parent. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I still enjoyed little luxuries like make-up, eating out, and other unnecessary purchases. I enjoyed these purchases quite often. After becoming a parent, my financial habits changed drastically. I became more concerned with saving money, paying off debts, and making sure my children had everything they could want and need. Instead of buying a new top, or pair of shoes for myself, I was buying baby food and toys.
Sleep Became a Luxury
Prior to becoming a parent, I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning and sleep until late afternoon the following day. I had no concept of time, and sleep was something I could get whenever I wanted. After having children, sleep became more of a luxury; something to enjoy whenever I had the opportunity to do so.
Errands Take Much Longer
One thing that has changed drastically since becoming a parent is the amount of time that running a simple errand takes. A quick trip to the grocery store to get eggs or milk that would have taken me fifteen minutes without kids, now takes an hour a more. Between getting kids ready, tying shoes, buckling carseats, unloading kids, dealing with tantrums in the aisles, checking out, packing back into the car, unloading children at home, and then unloading groceries, it now takes several times longer than it did before I had children!