I remember saying ‘I will not let being a mother change me’.
Now I snigger and roll my eyes when I hear people trotting out that line.
Apologies if you really have managed not to change, or intend not too.
But I don’t believe it for a second.
- You are not a priority anymore. Neither is your partner. Your baby calls the shots now. At some point you will have to manage on four hours sleep (or less) or eat your dinner cold.
- Someone else’s happiness matters more than your own. Sure, you can spend an entire Saturday shopping if that’s what you want. But Junior is likely to get pretty darned bored in that pushchair all day, and you will leave a trail of raisins/juice/chocolate buttons behind you. Spending an afternoon at soft play is likely not your idea of heaven, but you’ll come around when you see how much sweaty fun your offspring has leaping into ball pits and careering down crazy slides. It’ll also help that they sleep well that night too.
- You get older. Most of us change our habits as we settle into thirties and forties, whether kids is a cause or consequence of this I couldn’t say, but either way life is a process, just because we change doesn’t mean it’s bad.
- You realise that having kids is a good excuse to act like a kid. Paddling in the sea in February when you’re thirty-two looks a bit odd. Doing it with a toddler however is perfectly acceptable. Not to mention ice-cream, sweets, donuts. You can even trot out a pre-schooler tantrum with the excuse that you’re ‘showing them how silly they look’.
- You’re friendship groups will shift. Inevitably you will start hanging out with people who also have littlies, whether it’s friends you’ve not seen since they had kids, or someone you met at a baby group. Doing baby-stuff with someone else can be more enjoyable than on your own, particularly before your baby does much walking and talking.
- Going out involves much planning. Stopping at the pub on the way home pre-kids is simple. After kids, it disrupts routine, the baby needs to be fed, they’re overtired, and if you do manage that drink in peace, any kind of hangover isn’t generally well received at 5am by a screaming child. And if you try to go out without kids….you need a babysitter, they’ll definitely be ill, you’ll have to try and get ready, after which you’ll just think it’ll be easier to stay in.
- Money. Whatever way you do it (unless you have wonderful family who look after your kids for free), kids cost. Whether you reduce your hours to stay home with them, give up work entirely, or decide to put them into childcare, you are probably going to be faced with less money coming in. So your life will change on that front. Not that it’s bad, just different.
So, embrace the change, it’s part of our story. If you can let something as massive as becoming a parent NOT change you, then I actually think you have something wrong with you. I think we all accept that we go through different phases, and being a parent is one of those. You may come out of it a completely different person. You may revert back to (kind of) how you were. It matters not. All that does matter is that you enjoy your life, and your little people enjoy theirs; whatever form that may take.