When I was still against having children, I remember a good friend saying to me that she felt having her children really changed her. She felt she was less selfish than previously which I was surprised about because she was one of the people I would say is most generous with her time and support. Her reasoning was that she was obviously looking out more for her children than thinking about herself all the time.
There’s certainly a lot of changes when you have children. I’ve found that I’ve become more relaxed – I still moan a lot, but I let a lot of things go where prior to having N I would have been a total control freak. Now I’m about 60% control freak. I do a lot less shopping. Oh and I spend a lot more time planning things and then finding I’m still forgetting them.
The main thing about having children is all the things you lose, both tangible and in spirit.
Here’s my list of things you lose when you have kids:
Children just love pens, paint and paper. Once they’re old enough to be let loose with their own pens and paper there’s no stopping them. Even if you provide a huge plastic box full of their own pens, scissors, pencils, chalks, paint, glue sticks, stickers, you’ll still find that they’ll be in your kitchen drawers looking for the good kitchen scissors, sellotape dispensers and other craft supplies they can find.
My drawer used to have a lot of biros, but where they go I have no idea. The sellotape dispenser goes walkies, then when it’s found there’s no sellotape left. At least my Sharpies so far have been safe.
2. CDs and DVDs
Once your child has worked out how to use the dvd player watch out. Your dvds will no longer be safe if they’re in a low cabinet. Thankfully only N’s own dvds have been opened up, switched into different boxes, and left all over the living room. But CDs are a different matter. I gave him my old kitchen radio/CD player, but he gets bored with the children’s CDs he has. So mine are stolen and used. Never to see their cases again.
Some children are fussy, but beware any child who likes food. The fridge door will permanently be opened, the fruit bowl contents will be eaten and peelings and cores will be left somewhere for you to find rather than put in the bin. You’ll wonder where all the food is going, and dread the teenage years!
4. Shower gel
If you want to keep your own nice shower gel to yourself that means buying kids versions. Shower gel disappears so quickly in our house, I now make sure I dispense it into N’s hands. The alternative and slightly better route is to have a squirty dispenser. This tends to use less than a simple tip upside down opening. Or buy a bar of soap.
Lots of people say it’s baby brain, others say that doesn’t exist. But in my case my memory left as soon as I’d had N. I can’t remember anything unless I have a list. I remember to do something but get distracted, then remember days later what I should have done days ago…today’s was that yesterday I was going to put name stickers in N’s new trainers. That’s now tonight’s job, if they come home from school. Six years later and my memory still hasn’t improved anywhere near what it was pre-child.
6. Free time
Children suck time away from you. You’ll have to juggle looking after children, possibly the OH as well (mine’s capability and inclination to do anything round the house has reduced since N’s arrival oddly), plus whatever you did before. Work, food, shopping, going out, hobbies…it seems that once kids arrive, not only do we look after them, but many parents take on even more whether it’s to do with volunteering, school stuff, going out and about more. That free time is no longer free, unless you find a specific me-time activity to schedule in.
Yes, for the first few years you’ll be unlikely to have any privacy. Whether it’s going to the toilet, having a shower or having ‘cuddles’ with your partner. All of them are at danger of being intruded on by little ones. Or not so little if you’ve children who like to wander at night.
I’ve never been a patient person, although I am more laid back with N than I thought I’d be. However saintly you are, you will find times as a parent when you need to have a rant and lose it. I don’t think N is too concerned…or at least he never changes his behaviour (the joys of selective hearing). Taking a big breath helps, and if you need to, leaving a room with the child safely in it, is totally under-rated.
So there’s my 8 things you lose when you have children. What would you add to the list?