I remember when I was 20 weeks pregnant with my son and all I could think about was what theme ideas we had for the nursery, what we would name him, and how much time I would spend cuddling him and holding him. I wish now that I’d spent a little less time wishing away our childless days and more time enjoying the one-on-one time I could spend with my husband. They say hindsight is 20/20 and no matter how many times I promise myself I will live in the moment, I will enjoy where I am now, I always eventually end up wishing things were different.
Don’t spend your time waiting for the next stage of your life to occur. If you’re planning on having kids in the future but don’t yet have them, stay tuned. These are a few things I wish I’d known before I had kids.
There is no such thing as too much sleep
Any day you feel like sleeping in or going to bed a little early, do it. When kids come around, uninterrupted sleep becomes a rare and precious commodity. Don’t feel guilty about extra sleep, enjoy it while you can.
You need time to yourself to stay sane
I love my son, but sometimes I feel like I don't know where I end and he begins anymore. In his early life I would go weeks and months at a time without ever being alone. Don’t feel bad about needing a little “me” time.
I thought my husband and I had plenty of laundry. Back when we lived in an apartment with coin-operated laundry facilities, I treasured quarters like they were pieces of the Holy Grail. When kids entered the picture, however, that laundry amount tripled. So appreciate the ease of your laundry chores now before the addition of hundreds of adorable, spit-splattered onesies.
Habits you make now will influence your habits when you have kids
So if you don’t exercise, eat healthily only on occasion and leave piles of clutter all around the house, those habits will remain even once children enter the picture. Begin as you mean to continue.
Travel and transportation gets a lot trickier when little ones enter the picture
There was a time my husband and I could pick up and drive to the grocery store at a moment’s notice. These days I have to plan at least three hours in advance so I can be sure a feeding time won’t fall during the shopping trip and I have to carry two armloads of baggage out to the car in order to feel prepared. Similarly, long car trips require more than twice the amount of luggage to accommodate our son’s travel crib, thrice daily changes of clothes and mountains of diapers.
Some things you think matter when you’re childless cease to have meaning when kids arrive. I used to think I needed to wear makeup every day in order to feel good about myself. Now, all I have to do is look in my son’s eyes and see his adorable, trusting smile in order to know I’m the most beautiful woman in the world. I also no longer care so much about the tidiness of my living room. If there are toys scattered across the floor, it means I’ve been playing with my son and had no time for cleaning.
Kids change everything, and that’s no exaggeration. It helps to be prepared for those changes so you aren’t taken aback by an unwelcome surprise. But truly, most of the things that have changed since I’ve had kids have been for the better. Maybe I do more laundry and get by on less sleep now, but I also know the true meaning of love and the satisfaction you can get from a single look and a smile.