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Parents

Here Are The Answers To Every Question You've Ever Had About Raising Kids

Real talk, no sugarcoating.

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1. Will I get enough sleep?

Flickr: normalityrelief / Via Creative Commons

The bad news: Truly peaceful sleep becomes a thing of the past once you’re a parent. Even after you’ve survived the miserable infant stage you will still find yourself getting up at all hours to fetch glasses of water, find missing lovies, calm night terrors, and escort little people to the bathroom. Later, when your kids are in high school or college, you will lie awake worrying about them at parties. This is just the new normal when you love someone so fiercely.

The good news: The idea of getting only a few scattered hours of sleep is pretty scary before you have kids, and rightly so — it’s miserable. But every parent you know has gotten through it, and the really bad period doesn’t last forever. Babies start to sleep for much longer stretches after only 4-6 months, which means that you will start to get some sleep too. Besides, your body gets used to operating on less sleep, and eventually missing a few Zs doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

2. What will happen to my sex life?

Universal

The bad news: This is sex before kids: After a night on the town clad in your best duds you return to your quiet, empty home where things get heated over rose petals and champagne. (The rose petals might be pushing it, but you get the idea.) This is sex after kids: You’re exhausted, you're sweaty, and you're wearing a shirt with spit up on it. Your house is messy and your partner is in the kitchen eating your kid’s leftover mac and cheese. (Discloser: you might be the one eating the mac and cheese.)

The good news: Clearly, there is sex after kids. If there wasn’t, every kid would be an only child. Finding the time and energy for each other might be harder after kids, but your sex life can still be tremendously rewarding with a little effort. Some nights you’ll be too tired after the kids are down, but other nights you won’t be. Also, you can still have romantic nights that resemble the ones you had before kids if you plan a weekend getaway or send the kids off to their grandparents’ house. You’ll make it work!

3. Will my relationship survive?

ABC

The bad news: There’s no denying it — kids will put a (possibly major) strain on your relationship. In your exhaustion you will find yourself snapping at each other for things that — in retrospect — seem totally inane, like “CAN YOU EVER PUT THE FUCKING PEANUT BUTTER BACK IN THE CUPBOARD?!" Resentment can creep in, too, if one of you doesn’t pull their weight in the childcare department. If your relationship is already showing cracks, having a kid might break them wide open.

The good news: Parenthood binds you and your partner together in an incredibly important task — guiding and protecting a baby from birth into adulthood and beyond — and if you work together, respectfully and with love, it can bring you closer together than anything else in this world can.

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4. Will becoming a parent affect my friendships?

Paramount

The bad news: Not only will you have less time to spend with your friends, but your new status as a parent will change your relationships with some of them. You will have friends who no longer want to hang out with you, and others who try to stay close but find it hard to relate now that you have different priorities in your life.

The good news: The reality in life is that you will have friends who drop away over time regardless of whether you have kids or not. Your really good friends, though, aren’t going to go anywhere no matter where your life takes you. In fact, your life changes (and theirs) will likely deepen your relationship. And you know what else? Those friends who fell away because they couldn’t handle your being a parent may come back eventually — when they become parents themselves.

5. Will I go broke?

Universal

The bad news: By the time your baby turns eighteen you will have spent a quarter of a million dollars on him or her, and — gulp — that won’t include college. This means that much of the impulsive “me spending” you do before kids will end. Farewell, expensive jacket/pricey statue of Han Solo in carbonite you don’t really need.

The good news: Sure, kids are expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to go broke. Mainly, you just need to start paying more attention to your finances and the money you’re spending. You’ll also find that a weird thing happens when you have kids — you suddenly no longer have the itch to spend money on yourself like you used to. In fact, buying your kid something they need will feel much better than buying something for yourself.

6. Will Caillou drive me insane?

The Cookie Jar Company

The bad news: There’s no getting around the fact that Calliou is a whiny, tantrum-throwing little punk. You WILL hate him and the equally lousy show he rode in on. Want some more bad news? Calliou isn’t alone. There are many other annoying kid’s show characters that will make you gnash your teeth. Here’s looking at you, Max and Ruby.

The good news: Caillou and other kid’s characters may be annoying, but if your kid likes them you will LOVE them. Why? Because it means that when you put on an episode you will get 30 minutes of peace to work, return emails, clean your place or simply take a much needed “parent break.”

7. What about diaper changes, spit up, and other gross stuff?

Universal

The bad news: There’s no sugarcoating this. You will be thrown up on. You will be peed on. You will be bled on. You will get #2 on your hands and clothes. You will wipe away boogers whether you have a tissue or not. You will find sippy cups with curdled milk in them. Your kid will bring gross bugs into the house and then lose them. Heard enough? Because I can go on.

The good news: Before you have kids, the idea of changing a blowout diaper might be enough to get you sick, but once you have kids gross things won't bother you so much. You’ll even be able to change an overflowing diaper mid-meal and then sit right back down and keep eating! Whether this is because parents become desensitized to grossness or because something changes in your brain chemistry, I don’t know. But whatever the explanation, the good news is you won’t be nearly as bothered by this stuff as you think you will.

8. Will I screw up my kid?

CBS

The bad news: Parenting is 24/7 and it’s impossible to make the right decision 100% of the time. There will be times when you’re tired/frustrated and say or do something you regret. You know what the real kicker is? Some day your adult kids will tell you about a time you did something hurtful back in the day, and it won’t be one of the things you regret — it’ll be something you don’t even remember!

The good news: Will you screw up here and there? Sure. Every parent does. But parenting isn’t about a few moments, it’s about tens of thousands of moments, and if you’re trying your best, the vast majority of things you do for your kids will be positive and turn them into people you can be proud of.

9. Will I turn into a stereotypical “mom” or “dad”?

NBC

The bad news: I don’t care how cool you are before kids, you WILL do something stereotypically “mom” or “dad” after kids. You could develop a sudden propensity to tell dad jokes, buy a minivan, get a “mom haircut,” wear high-waisted jeans, or shamelessly show off photos of your kids. You could even — yikes! — go “full parent” and do all those things. (Reminder: you should never go “full parent.”)

The good news: A fairy godmother doesn’t show up at the hospital and immediately turn you into a cheesy parent with a wave of the wand. If you were cool before kids you will be cool afterward, and if you weren’t, well, you still won’t be! Basically, you will be the same person you were before kids, just with different priorities. Sure, in time you will become more “parent-y,” but that's because you ARE a parent, and you’ll be more than cool with it.

10. Is it all worth it?

Flickr: eyeliam / Via Creative Commons

The bad news: If you’re unhappy with yourself or your life, having a baby probably isn’t going to solve your problems. In fact, adding a baby to a bad situation might very well make things worse.

The good news: Is it worth it? The answer is an emphatic “yes.” Being a parent may be hard, but it opens up your heart to a deeper love than you ever thought possible. Not only that, but if you commit yourself to the job you will be rewarded in many ways, not the least of which is the self-confidence that comes from knowing you’re doing right by your kids.

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