There's no doubt about it — parenting has its ups, its downs, and its "what in the world just happened heres?"
1. "You should know how damn hard it is not to let your own identity get lost in being 'Mom' or 'Dad.' Once you have a child, they become the most important person in your life, but you always have to keep a spot for who you were before kids. But it's a hell of a lot harder than it sounds."
2. "At some point, your kid will remind you of yourself, and not in a good way — your temper, your anxiety, your stubbornness, whether it's something you've outgrown or not."
3. "There is no such thing as a day off. Do you have a 104-degree fever? Too bad — your little one still needs someone to make them food. Have you worked a whole week of double shifts? You're not sleeping in on the weekend! Don't get me wrong — I love being a mom, but it's also the most exhausting thing I have ever done."
4. "You're going to have to cut yourself some slack. Before I had kids, I had very strong opinions about what should or shouldn't be done when raising them. Then you realize that the handbook you drafted in your head isn't always practical or feasible — or it might work with one of your kids but not with the other. A lot more of parenting than I expected is figuring it out as you go along. But it's also every bit as amazing as I anticipated."
"Something that worked for someone's kid five years ago will not be a guarantee to work for a different kid at a different time. Even siblings are different, so if you have a tried and true technique, be prepared for it to crash and burn the next time around with the next kid. Kids will also change their preferences, and they might love something one day and completely hate it the next. You have to be on your toes and be willing to learn and change on the go!"
5. "I was not prepared for how much poop I would have to deal with. It's so, so much more than just the occasional dirty diaper — eating it, painting with it, playing with it, it's EVERYWHERE! And bibs do nothing to stop spit-up. You'll get spit-up in your hair, on your clothes, and if you're really lucky, like me, your baby will time it perfectly to spit up right into your open mouth. Fun times."
6. "It's OK if you don't feel that wave of instant love happen as soon as the baby pops out. It simply doesn't happen to every parent. It's OK if having a baby doesn't make you feel like you're living in the bliss of parenthood."
7. "They're going to tell you they hate you sooner than you think. Don't take it personally — they're just figuring out how their emotions work, and what makes other people feel as bad as they do. I always respond with, 'OK. I love you.'"
"And always think hard about your own childhood. Learn about child development at every stage, and keep in mind where your child is during that stage. It's a good indicator of whether to push them more or back off because they're not ready to do that yet. Growing up isn't a race. They'll get there."
9. "Personal space is a distant memory. My kid acts like the umbilical cord is still attached! I love him to death, but I have extreme anxiety and depression, and there are times when I just don't want to be touched or around anyone. It's impossible with a kid, even if the other parent is involved."
"So if you're like me, and you don't like to be touched often, don't have a kid. It's not their fault that touch is their love language."
10. "Your kids are not mini-versions of you. They are their own people, and they have their own thoughts and feelings."
11. "Please do not have a child to fix a relationship. The saying, 'A baby will make a good relationship better and a bad relationship worse exists for a reason."
12. "Being a parent is much harder than you think, but not for the reasons you're expecting. However, it's always so much better than you can imagine. The first time you see them, the first time they call for you, your three-year-old learning the words to 'Teenage Dirtbag,' and having a dance party with you — those moments are indescribable joy."
13. "Your time is no longer your own. You shower when you can, not when you want. I remember during quarantine, all my childless friends were like, 'I'm learning French and bought a pottery wheel!' and I was like, 'I'm watching Blippi on repeat, making 500 snacks a day, and cleaning constantly!'"
15. "Be prepared for the unexpected. You can plan everything you want — pregnancy, birth, schedule, etc... but things will change. Your baby and body will decide when it's time to be delivered, and your baby will — at least in my experience with three kids — kinda decide their own schedule of eating, drinking, waking etc..."
16. "TRUST YOUR GUT! If you think something is wrong during your pregnancy or children's development, SPEAK UP. Advocate for yourself and your children, and don't take no for an answer."
17. "Kids are smarter than you think. They are picking up behaviors and mannerisms constantly. Give them the chance to learn how to be independent, and reinforce the lessons without expectations. They will learn and you probably won't be ready for it."
"My last piece of advice is something I was told before having my daughter: The days are long but the years are short. Cherish it."
18. "Start learning now how to let shit go. Trust me, the world will not totally fall apart if you let go of your expectations and plans for a few years. Your mental health, baby, and partner will thank you. My anal-retentive personality almost broke me during the last month of pregnancy and the first few months of my daughter's life. But loosening up and realizing that I can't control every single aspect of the house, my career, baby's sleep schedule, and my partner's way of parenting helped a lot. Like, a lot a lot."
19. "You need to learn an incredible amount of patience, and you also need to know when you've reached your limit. Sometimes babies cry for hours, and you need to know when it's time for you to tap out for a few minutes."
"If you're alone, obviously make sure baby is safely in a swing or pack-n-play, then leave the room and get your bearings. That's a way better coping method than exploding with anger at a child who doesn't understand why you're upset or what's happening.
This continues to be important as your kids get older. If they're having a meltdown and you need to tap out so you don't have a meltdown, do it. Screaming at them helps no one. And communicate with your partner if you feel like they aren't carrying their load or if you need their help!"
20. "Be prepared for anything. Your child may be physically or mentally disabled, gay, trans, experience depression, be liberal, be conservative, be vegan, have allergies, etc...and it's your job to love and care for them through it all. If you don't think you could handle that stuff, don't have kids."
21. "Make date night with your spouse a priority, no matter how tired or busy you are! Your romantic relationship is just as important as your parental relationship."
22. "Even if you've waited years for a family and struggled to get there, it's OK to find it hard. You don't have to feel guilty about it."
23. "Don't expect your partner to change for the better after you have a child. I really believed my ex-husband would hold his daughter and love her so much that I would have the perfect family I imagined. It was the opposite. Things got worse, and I was crushed for myself and my daughter. But now, I realize it wasn't fair to have that expectation and then the resentment when it was clear he wouldn't ever change."
24. "Setting boundaries with friends and family will do you a world of good in the early days."
25. "I never had anxiety before children but now I do — just from the sheer worrying about their well-being. I just need them to be OK, and that’s something you can’t always control as a parent."
26. "It's OK if your house is messy and your dinners are more often fast or frozen food when you have a baby. Don't feel the pressure to be 'Super Parent' and keep your house up like Martha Stewart while also keeping a tiny human alive."
27. "When my son was just a few weeks old, I had this sudden realization that my life was forever changed. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I was terrified. I realized I could never just pick up and go somewhere without careful planning. I was also a stay-at-home mom, and I realized that he was going to be with me nearly 24 hours a day. Obviously, I knew these things before having him, but the actual reality didn’t set in until he was here."
28. "People are determined to scare you or make you hate parenting. When I was pregnant, everyone was like, 'Ooh, your life is over!' and that's just sad. New parents should hear the harsh truths — yes, there's not a lot of sleep and poopy diapers are not fun, but oh my gosh, parenting is a blast! You get the rare experience of watching a little person seeing the world for the first time — don't let anyone take that away from you!"
"Plus, things are hard in the world right now. Let's celebrate the fact that someone tried a banana for the first time today."