Four Parenting Surprises You Won’t Understand Until You’re a Parent

Mother and childEveryone knows that when you have a baby, you’re going to be exhausted!  If children came with instruction manuals, there would be a “may cause drowsiness” or “don’t operate heavy machinery while parenting” sticker on the front cover.  

But we endure, we press on, our hearts full of boundless love.  Being a parent is a miracle, one that almost no one ever regrets.  But, there will be some challenges you must tackle and prepare yourself for, such as the lack of sleep and how having a child will literally change your life.

This is what parenting is all about!  It’s what you signed up for.  The problem is, despite all the stereotypes, the jokes, and what the baby books tell you about parenting, it’s a safe bet you’re about to run into a few surprises along the way.  

Here are a few of those surprises you might’ve suspected, but maybe never thought about:

1) Sleep will be difficult. 

Gone are the days of sleeping in on Saturday morning.  Gone are the days of waking up completely rested and ready to tackle the day.  This isn’t meant to scare you, but something really interesting happens once you become a parent.

Your parental instincts kick-in.  Even when you think you might have a moment to rest, that instinct will wake you up and keep you going.  Maybe it’s an urge to check on the little one.  You might even think you hear them crying and want to check on them, especially at first when they’re the most vulnerable.  

As they get older, it’s time for a whole new ballgame.  Can you imagine what toddlers are up to in the middle of the night?  Screaming if they’re having a nightmare, when they need a drink of water, or to use the bathroom.  It’s a free-for-all and one night is as unique and challenging as the next.  Even when they’re teenagers you’ll have sleepless nights, especially as they experience a lot of ‘firsts’, like first sleepover, first time borrowing the car, and their first date.

These are all natural thoughts and emotions you’ll have as a parent and they’ll never stop.  You’ll never stop worrying about their safety and well-being.  If you don’t hear from them after a certain amount of time, you might be inclined to think the worst.  Take it in stride and hopefully you’ll have plenty of help to get through it.  As they say, it takes a village…

2) Every day will be a new journey.  

Do you remember what it was like when you were young, careless, and free?  You had no responsibilities, had your holidays off, got to spend time with your friends whenever you wanted.  

Then, you got older.  Responsibilities started to set in.  Maybe your parents made you get a job during the holidays.  Everyone else got to relax and enjoy their break, but you had to work, go to school, and start handling your own bills.  

You see, once you become a parent, it’s that feeling ALL the time, except you don’t get a day off.  Maybe you can get grandma to come over for a few hours, but you’re literally on-guard 24/7.  As discussed above, you lose sleep.  You’re up early.  You’re feeding them, changing them, playing with them, rocking them, and soothing them.  

Once you think it’s all good, you’ll have to start the list over.  Then there’s laundry, cooking, cleaning, et cetera.  It doesn’t matter if you’re sick and tired, this is your job now and it doesn’t end.  Yes, it’ll be exhausting, but it does get easier.  Just like anything in life, you get used to the grind and it’s totally worth it in the end.

3) You might long for some adult stimulation.

You love your little munchkin.  They can be funny, honest, adorable, and even inspirational.  But the truth is, you’re an adult!  You are stimulated by adult conversations.  You enjoy shows that challenge you intellectually and leave you on the edge of your seat.  But get ready for what may potentially be an IQ-dropping change.

Little kids are relentless.  If they want your attention, they will get it.  They will sit in your lap and scream, “Mum. Hey mum. Mum? Mummy? Hey, mummy? MUM? MUMMY?” until you answer.  They’ll make you watch Dora the Explorer over and over and over again.  And don’t even think about turning the radio onto your favorite station while on the road.  

It can become brain-numbing and repetitive.  Be prepared for demanding answers, requesting, whining, tantrums, and a lot of busyness that doesn’t slow down.  A great way to counteract this is to find another mum just like you.  Not only will you get that stimulating conversation and advice from someone your age, your little one has a friend to burn up that extra energy with.

4) Don’t forget your spouse!

Whether you’re married, engaged, or have been dating a long time, the thought that persists is how kids can make a couple closer, but that’s not true in a lot of ways.  One of the toughest parts of raising children is the obvious stress it will put on your relationship.  It’s known that intimacy can dwindle, you’re both exhausted, and won’t be able to get out and go on dates like you used to.  

Therefore, it’s important to find ways to keep that spark going no matter how challenging raising children can get.  Remember, mum and dad are the cornerstone of the whole family.  You will have to sacrifice some things for the sake of raising your children, but your marriage/relationship isn’t one of them.  Make it a priority to spend time with your partner.  It will have a larger impact on your kids than you may realize.  

Parenting can be one of the most exhausting, challenging, and demanding jobs ever, but it’s also the most rewarding, amazing, and fantastic things you will ever accomplish in your life.  A child isn’t a weekend hobby, but a precious life that looks up to you to meet his or her needs.  And the secret you must know about parenting is no one knows what they’re doing.  They take it one day at a time and learn as they go.