1. Free Time Appreciation
Never do you appreciate free time to yourself or with your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, friend, whatever than you do after you have kids. It's true you don't get nearly as much of it when you have kids, but your kids will nap (some more than others), they'll go to bed, they'll occasionally be babysat, and you'll appreciate the moments free to yourself or with others in a way you didn't before having children.
You know how when you experience a really great, memorable time in your life, and once it's over you wish you could have realized it was a great, memorable time when you were actually living it and experiencing it? For some reason, especially for me, this came easier in parenthood than it came any other time in my early twenties or teenage years.
You are able to recognize that these moments are precious and you soak them up and appreciate them and live them slowly and sweetly. And when you do, it makes hanging out with your little one(s) that much more rewarding once they're up from a nap, a night's sleep or home from a sitter.
2. Play Dates
One really awesome reason for having already settled down with kids in your twenties are the play dates. For the longest time, it seemed like I was the only one in my group of friends without a kid, so I never came to play dates. I guess I could have came, but it didn't really feel like my place I guess? I would have felt like the odd gal out. Play dates aren't strictly just about your kids having a good time together, but you get to connect with your other parent friends and get out of the house and have a good time too. Everyone wins here. Being a parent isn't about being stuck inside your house with no contact with the outside world besides Facebook or Pinterest. You can get out and have fun and be social. In fact, you might start preferring these types of social situations over a crowded bar or a house party or whatever thing non-kid-having twenty-something's do. I will say however, not all your friends will have kids which is totally normal and awesome and you should still make time to hang out with them too. It's good to have friends who don't have kids just as it's great to have friends who do.
3. Kid Bedtime = You Time
I feel like this is one of the things that no one ever seems to tell you before you become a parent. Once your baby goes to bed, within reason, you have the rest of the evening to do whatever thing you want to do. I'm married and it's always nice to have time with my husband watching TV or a movie, or sometimes we'll just make time for ourselves after our son goes to bed and it's really nice. You can even have friends over and hang out during this time. Again, I swear no one told me this when I was pregnant!
4. You Can Still Pursue Your Hopes and Dreams
This one is tricky and obviously is different for everyone. Having a kid in your twenties really changes things. You might have to put off some of the things you were hoping to achieve, but it doesn't mean some or all of these things thins can't be attained. It just might not be during the timeframe in which you originally envisioned it. You just have to plan really well. Like really well. Within reason, I feel like you can do most of the things you did before you had kids as long as you plan it well and ahead of time. It also helps if you have a support system of friends and family. Again, everyone's situation is different, so the level of difficulty of this varies from parent to parent. But this is why having other friends with kids is so important. Even if you lack family helping you out, you can build those friendships and if you ever need a little help, you've got it. And the best part about friendships like this is that the good in them is reciprocal. Real friends want to help and encourage you to do whatever thing is going to help make your life and your family's life better.
5. Early Empty Nest
This is one of the things that is further in the future, but seemingly one of the pros about having kids in your twenties is that you'll have an empty nest sooner than those waiting until their thirties to have kids. Of course, with each new child that comes along, this time of 'empty next' gets pushed further and further away. I actually don't want to think of the day my son moves out. Thankfully, we have many, many years before that is even a thought on our minds. But I assume, like every major life change, it will be one that is bittersweet. But I'd imagine it's also a special time in life when you are a 40-50 something year old. Does that make sense? Again, at this point, I don't ever want my son to leave.
6. You Finally Learn To Actually Appreciate The Little Things, Not Just Talk About It.
Something about becoming a parent makes you really appreciate the little things in life. I feel like I always heard this saying in my teen years and early twenties, but I never really applied it until I had my son. Being able to go out on my porch and enjoy a cup of black coffee in the morning while my son is napping, watching him crawl for the first time, eating a meal uninterrupted, using the bathroom in silence, sitting on my couch for more than five minutes straight, hearing my son and husband laugh together from two rooms over, rocking my son to sleep, watching Mad Men on Sunday nights before starting a new work week with my husband after my son goes to bed…these are the moments that make up our lives. They are wonderful nuggets of joy that wind up in my days as a parent, and I love and cherish every one of them.
7. They Are Hilarious
The older your kids become, the most hilarious they become. They say and do some of the strangest, most whimsical things you can think of. But it's why having them is great. For some reason my son started laughing hysterically at the word "poop" around six months of age. In theory, he should have no idea why saying 'poop' might be funny. But he gets it and that's great. Most twenty-somethings (happy, positive, non-lame people of all ages actually) love laughing and appreciate some good, weird humor on a daily basis. Your kids will be sure to deliver on this.
8. You Want To Be With Them
Lastly and most importantly is the joy of simply being with your kids. It doesn't matter when or what age you have kids. But I feel like a lot of people shy away or scoff at the thought of having kids in their twenties because they assume it suddenly makes your life awful. Well I think that's just ignorant. You love your kids wildly unlike anything you've ever loved or will love in your life. It's a different than the love you have for your spouse, family member or friend. And it's truly wonderful. It's so wonderful I feel like crying thinking about it sometimes. It's hard as hell sometimes/most of the time,some weeks are harder than others, but God, it's so sweet.
I think Bill Murray said it best in 'Lost in Translation':
"The most terrifying day of your life is the day the first one is born. Your life, as you know it… is gone. Never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk… and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life."