I knew that once we had a child my life would change. Even in areas that I expected a difference often times the change was greater than I imagined. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining nor would I trade my life for anything. I am merely stating the fact that once one has kids his or life drastically changes. It would be impossible to document all of the lifestyle changes that I have encountered so I have narrowed my list to include five areas that have been impacted greatly. While there might be slight differences in your own life, I am sure that if you are a parent you will agree that these areas of your life drastically changed after having kids.
Sleeping. Once we had our first child, sleeping as I once knew it changed for good. At first it was because the baby was up at night and asleep during the day. Next it was feeding him every four hours. It progressed to a point where he would go to bed and sleep through the night but then he was up at six in the morning. This might not seem terrible but I always find myself staying up until one or two trying to get everything done I couldn’t do while he was awake. Factor in bad dreams, colds, needing a drink and the occasional climbing into bed with me, sleeping, when I actually do it, has never been the same.
Watching television. I use to like watching television. After having a child I either do not get to watch television or don’t want to. Many studies will tell you that television is no good for kids under age two. Studies will say violence on television promotes negative behavior in kids. I am no expert but I do believe that kids don’t need to be watching most of the stuff I like to watch on television as an adult. I also want our kids to play and be active, not become couch potatoes by age twelve. Now we haven’t removed the televisions from our house or anything, I just rarely watch any television shows I would like to watch when our children are awake. Instead, when our kids do watch television they are watching cartoons or educational programs. A few of these are fine, but as an adult I can only take so much Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Baby Einsteins. Gone are the days when I followed my favorite programs weekly or nightly or even designated time to watch television.
Eating. Before having kids one eats for pleasure, after having children one eats only out of necessity. After having kids I have found that when I eat the food is often cold because I have to help my children with their food first. I have also found that I am going to have to share my food with the kids even if they have their own and it is the exact same thing I am eating. There are also things children can’t eat either because of their age or allergies which means I don’t get to eat them either. Overall, eating after having children isn’t something I take pleasure in; it is just something I do occasionally.
Shopping. Going to the store or running errands before having kids was a quick process. I would grab the keys, hop in the car, go to whatever place I needed to or wanted to, and spend only as much time in the establishment as I wanted. With kids, it takes an eternity. First you need to get them dressed, then undressed to use the bathroom, then dressed, buckled in the car seats and maybe then you can leave. If you make it there it is unbuckled, carried in, into a cart, use a wipe to clean the cart and finally, if I remember, we go get what we need. Then of course there is the mandatory trip to the toy aisle, explaining why we aren’t getting the toys today, and then to the checkout where I am increasingly discouraged by how much money I have spent and yet it seems like we have nothing to eat in the house. Again, shopping changes when you have kids and if you ever took pleasure in it those days end will quickly.
Personal Privacy. Once we had children I was still able to find some privacy but not when and where I did before having kids. Once we had kids I didn’t go many places without them. Areas such as the bathroom become very much more public when you have kids, even in your own house. My bedroom is no longer a retreat; rather it is a gathering and collection point. My personal privacy comes now either very late at night or on those few enjoyable moments in the car on the way home from work.
There are many other areas in my life that have changed due to having kids but these are five that really stand out. The changes aren’t all bad; I didn’t need to spend so much time watching television anyway. Was I prepared for them all? No, I was not. But I wouldn’t trade any of them for having my children around and the time I get to spend with them. The one thing I am certain of about changes in my life after having kids is that it is going to keep on coming, and the sooner you can accept it, the easier life will get.