Never will I ever….
Oh, the things I would say before having kids. As a therapist and a school counselor, I’ve worked with kids for a long time. I thought I knew so much about how I would raise children, and how I would be different. Here are a few of the foolish and embarrassing things I would say to myself or my friends before I had children.
Never will I ever…have so many toys.
I remember vividly saying, even 9 months pregnant, “I never want my house to look like a toy store blew up.” Then I had a baby. She was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. We got almost everything on our registry. And then people started bringing us stuff. And we bought stuff ourselves. And then people at my job started offering me toys. And I foolishly kept saying yes. Before I knew it, my house looked like a toy store blew up in it. Recently, we’ve been working to get the toys reduced to only ones that the kids love and are more versatile, but it’s hard to keep it in check. They go to parties and get goodie bags. They definitely are old enough now that they are also asking for certain toys. It is a real struggle to keep the house looking like adults live here too.
Never will I ever…give them too much screen time
Before I had kids, I thought, a little TV is okay, but we have to have some firm guidelines around it. Then I had a toddler who still wasn’t sleeping well, and I had a newborn. My daughter watched Wonder Pets for the first few weeks of her little brother’s life, because it was an overwhelming period of time. Once I found my footing, I was able to cut back on screen time, but a binge day (or week) still happens. For example, this past winter we were stuck inside the house for the month of February because of the epic snowfall. There was so much snow we couldn’t even play in it. So yes, we watched a lot of TV at that point. We have guidelines, but we’re also flexible when we need to be.
Never will I ever…not go out with my friends
Before I had kids, I thought, “I know I’ve heard my friends who are parents talk about how hard it is to get out of the house and hang out, but I will not be one of them. I will still go out with friends and do fun things.” Then I had children and my schedule suddenly revolved around naptimes and bedtimes and breastfeeding. If I wanted to go out with my friends at night, I would have to schedule my daughter’s day to ensure she would be in bed at a certain time, and check in with my husband about leaving for a couple of hours to make sure he’d be home from work. It became so much work to re-arrange and prepare. Things got more complicated when my son was born, because he REFUSED to take a bottle. So I either took him, or planned time out with my friends around his eating schedule. Now that they’re older, I have to work around swim lessons and dance lessons and homework time. I get out, but it takes some work. Sometimes it’s just easier to sit on the couch with a glass of wine and watch Netflix.
Never will I ever…only talk about the baby
A couple of my friends had kids before I did, and I realized I was getting tired of talking to them because all they did was talk about the baby. The baby did this, the baby did that. I’m thinking about getting this kind of stroller. All of my conversations with these people focused on their children. And that was boring and I didn’t want that to be me. What I didn’t realize is that
- since your ENTIRE life revolves around someone’s else’s schedule now, there isn’t a lot of room in your brain initially for much else
- you want to reach out and talk to someone because you don’t know what you’re doing, and you need some support in this crazy transition to being a parent
- pure exhaustion can make you forget what you were saying mid-sentence, and that you’ve actually told this story 3 times already
Never will I ever…let my child leave the house looking like that
I sometimes would see these kids with crazy mismatched outfits, and I would say, never will I ever let my child leave the house looking that way. I was pretty good about that, until my daughter really wanted to start dressing herself. I decided this was not a battle I needed to fight. If she wants to wear velvet flower leggings, a striped skirt and a polka dot top (a real outfit from this past school year), I let her. I let her because she gets dressed independently and her clothes are clean and not stained. She likes being able to wear what she wants. She doesn’t get to be in charge of a ton of things at her age, but this is something she can control. Recently, though, she’s been asking me to pick out her outfits and I’m happy to oblige.
I look back on so many more things I used to say before I was a parent and just cringe. Parenting changes your life, and you don’t really understand until you’re in it. Now I just sit back and laugh with my mom friends about the foolish things I used to say.
Janine Halloran is a licensed therapist, school counselor and a mom. She started her blog, Encourage Play, to help kids learn social skills through play. Stop by and check out resources and activities to help kids connect to one another and practice friendship skills.