Ahh, the single life. Or the partnered-without-children life. It carries with it a certain sense of freedom and ease that many people find extremely satisfying and they wouldn’t dream of having it any other way. And then for others, even though the freedom is nice, they feel like there is something missing. The sweet sounds of a child’s laughter… The vision of rocking a newborn baby to sleep in the quiet peace of night… Birthday celebrations, soothing tears, fears and scraped knees, watching the growth and progression of a little human being that you helped to create…
These are beautiful and very real desires and the addition of a new baby is a joyous and amazing experience. That being said, there are some things that will never be the same after you welcome a new baby into your life, and it’s good to be prepared to accept these changes so that you don’t end up overwhelmed (as much) after the fact.
- Alone time. I don’t know about you, but I need a lot of solitude. I’m an empath, an introvert, and highly sensitive on top of that, so my capacity for noise and commotion and constant interaction is not as great as most peoples’. Unless you have a really good support system in place before, during, and after your baby arrives, you may find yourself trying to figure out how to take care of your needs and get that time alone to recharge and rejuvenate. When your baby is a newborn it may be more challenging to get very much alone time simply because newborns need your attention more during this time than they will at other points, but this does not mean that you can’t still get away for a moment.
- Ask your partner, a friend, or a family member if they can watch your baby while you take a long bath or shower. Or go for a walk, work on a creative project, sleep… Whatever it is that you need or want to do by yourself, DO IT. Taking time for yourself every day, even if it’s only for 20 minutes, will do wonders for your energy and your sense of health and well-being.
- Your routine. Now, this will vary from person to person, of course. Some of us (like me) aren’t very good at routines and schedules, but for many others it is important to create a flow to our days. With a child, however, be prepared to flip that routine upside-down. You will now be in a position where your schedule revolves around your child first and foremost. You will need to accommodate their waking/sleeping times, feeding times, play times, activity times, appointments, etc etc etc. This does not have to be difficult, it just takes a bit of flexibility on your part. And speaking of flexibility, don’t become obsessed with sticking to a particular schedule if it isn’t feeling good to you. Being able to flow and keep what works while dropping what doesn’t will make for a happier you, resulting in a happier kiddo.
- SLEEEEEEEEEEP!!!!!!! Oh, how I love to sleep. And yet, when you throw a kid into the mix, sleep becomes a distant, beautiful, bittersweet memory. Be prepared to wake multiple times throughout the night and get up early the next morning simply because you have a child and they love to watch Mommy turn into a zombie (except most Mombies want coffee, not brains). Okay so perhaps I am mildly exaggerating, but you have to expect that tiny little creatures whose bellies are small and bowels are plentiful are going to need to nourish themselves frequently. This is why when someone suggests napping when your baby naps, you should squeal and hug them for giving you permission to rest instead of scoffing at their audacity to suggest that you should put housework aside for an hour or two in exchange for taking care of yourself. Seriously.
- Your sex life. Obviously for the first 6 weeks or so after giving birth, you probably aren’t going to be able to (or WANT to) have sex. But after…. Between your lack of sleep and your lack of privacy, finding the time or desire to have sex may present somewhat of a challenge. But this could be the perfect opportunity to get creative! Aside from asking someone to babysit your child so you and your partner can do the deed without the risk of being interrupted by a crying, screaming, giggling, whispering, knocking, singing, and/or peeping child, here are some other ideas for ya:
- Find a new spot to do it. This was a must for my husband and I because we co-slept with both of our kids. And I laughed my butt off the time I saw a t-shirt that said “Co-sleepers do it on the kitchen floor” because that has SO happened before! Usually it’s the couch though. Or in the spare bedroom. Anyway, you get the picture. Find somewhere else. Not only will it solve the issue of where to do it if you co-sleep, but even if you don’t co-sleep it can add a little excitement to your love life!
- Try to schedule intimacy around the times when you know your child is supposed to be asleep. Did you catch how I put in the “supposed to be” bit? Remember how I talked about being flexible with your schedule? Yeah. Sometimes you may end up interrupted, but I found that for the most part we always managed to do what we wanted to do if we started right after our kids fell asleep.
- I don’t have any other suggestions. Take it where and when you can get it!
- Your sanity. You must answer the same questions multiple times a day. You must explain why your child has to put clothes on when leaving the house. You must explain why your child may not color on the walls. You must explain where babies come from, why Aunt Phyllis has a mustache, and why daddy’s underwear has a pocket in it.
You will clean up more than a thousand messes. Maybe more than a million! You will have to remind your child(ren) to wash their hands, blow their nose, clean up their blocks (especially after you step on them for the 8th time), put the milk away, hang up their coat, stop hitting the dog, stop slamming the door, and for the love of Pete stop stuffing blueberries up your nostrils!!!!!
Whereas you may have been an intelligent, intellectual, social butterfly before, you may now find yourself struggling to ask the cashier if she can make change for $1 (so your kids can get a Sticky Wacky Hand out of the little red vending machines by the exit doors). No, you’re not going to become unintelligent. You just might become unintelligible.
Talking to a baby/toddler/young person all day long really does a number on your mental state, especially if you don’t make time to visit with adults regularly. So make the time!!!
I hope you take this list with a grain of salt. There is some truth to every point, of course, but this was meant to be more humorous than frightening. One thing is true though for all of the above though.. Once you have a child, you have to MAKE THE TIME to make it work!!!