Recently, Reddit user u/sneakyturtles7 asked, "What is something nobody warns people about enough when it comes to having kids?"
Parents started chiming in with tons of helpful tips and lessons they've learned, and I, being childless, am fascinated. Here are the most insightful replies:
1. "I stopped having a chance to think anything through without interruption. I had a very hard time with that. I couldn’t remember anything and couldn’t make decisions because every thought seemed to get interrupted. I’d just sit in my car alone sometimes so I could think."
2. "I'm a father of three, and every daylight saving shift is a major battle. They say, 'But it's still light!' I don't care that it's 9 p.m. Go to bed!"
3. "No one tells you how important the years between 7 and 12 are for building a bond (one that lasts into the teenage years). They are so hard to listen to at that age, with all the starts and stops in conversation, and they talk about the most boring things, BUT it is so important to listen and converse at those ages."
"They will grow into teenagers who will talk to you and be fun to talk to, but only if you can get through long, boring conversations about Minecraft or whatever thing they are currently into."
4. "Make sure your mental health is up to par when they become teenagers. I swear, my youngest was going to drive me insane with all the worry she put me through with her mental health after her first boyfriend cheated on her with her best friend after a year of dating."
5. "No one tells you much you and your partner will talk about poop. The amount of poop, the color of poop, the timing of poop, the lack of poop, the consistency of poop, the location of poop, the viscosity of poop, the forcefulness of poop, the sound of poop.
"It is unfathomable how much we talk about poop. By the time you stop talking about your kids' poop, you’ll be discussing your own again. It’s insane."
6. "You have to teach them to pull their pants up. I knew I would have to teach how to use the potty, eat, tie shoes, etc., but I was so caught off guard about having to explain how to pull pants up when getting dressed. It’s a tricky maneuver for littles."
7. "Kids these days are late leavers of households, and because of rising costs of living, they are currently more likely to return to the nest after multiple attempts at becoming independent. 'Eighteen years to life' applies."
9. "You can lose who you are while you’re raising them. But it’s so important to take time for yourself to keep this from happening."
11. "Learn to live life using one arm because the other one will be holding the baby."
12. "Everything takes longer than you thought it would. Leaving the house with a baby or toddler takes an extra 10 minutes minimum to make sure they haven't shit themselves, you have a change of clothes and extra nappies, milk, food, toys, and more.
"Strapping them into your car seat or stroller is like wrestling with an uncooperative, strangely strong, yet ultimately fragile octopus."
13. "When kids grow older, you don't have a private life anymore. They stay awake longer than you do."
14. "Once they get out of the toddler stage, it can become extremely worrisome and time-consuming to parent them to become good people. They start asking questions and they form their own opinions."
"It's a very delicate balance between trying to get them to listen to important things and trying to get them to become more independent. It makes you think you are constantly messing it all up. It can be very hard to find a balance."
15. "You have to parent the kid you have. The books, your friends' thoughts, pediatricians, and therapists are just fine for ideas."
"But at the end of it all, you have this complicated little person you’re in charge of, with their own preferences, feelings, insecurities, and abilities. You have to do what works for them and your family and, of course, also raise someone who isn’t a blight on humanity or menace to society."
16. "Practicing diapers on a doll doesn't count. You're ready when you can do it on a cat."
17. "Everyone says that they won't resort to screentime or frozen meals like chicken nuggets. In my experience, yes, you will."
"Because you cannot keep a house tidy, have clean clothes, make meals, do grocery shopping, or work without compromising a few things in order to maintain sanity. There are only so many hours in the day, and you can only spread yourself so thinly across the rest of your life."
18. "Nothing prepared me for the sheer 'unrelentingness' of parenting. Every day for many years has to be finished with a dinner, bath, and bed routine that takes two hours, regardless of how tired, upset, or unwell you are."
"It's difficult enough if you've been at work all day, yes, but also if you're on holiday and got a little bit sunburned, or you've been to a family wedding and overeaten, or spent the day assembling Ikea furniture and are just exhausted. As a childless adult, you could occasionally say, 'I'm just having takeaway tonight' and flop in front of the TV until bedtime. As a parent, that's not an option."
19. "You will NEVER sleep the same again. It’s just different levels of fear and worries as they get older."
20. "When you're younger, it can be lonely. My only other adult interaction other than my husband is the cashier at the grocery store."
21. "Everything you say or do is being watched and shaping the personality of another human being, and if you fuck up, you might fuck them up as well."
22. "I call it 'active listening,' and it is really draining. When there are only other adults in the house, you don't pay much attention to the everyday noises. With kids in the house, you are always listening. Are they crying? Are they fighting? Are they too quiet? What just got opened? It gets better as they get older, but nothing can prepare you for it."
23. And this: "At the end of the day, you miss them. Regardless of how your day went, or how close you were to screaming or just shutting the door and walking away, when they close their eyes and go to sleep, you cannot wait to see them again and try again."
Parents, what are some other things that no one warns you about having kids? Let us know in the comments.
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.