So you are about to have a kid. Or maybe you just had one. Things are about to get real. Your life is about to change. I would argue for the better. But some might argue that it will change for the worse.
Kids are a gift from God. They will make you smile, they will make you cry, but they will bring you joy more often than not.
But there are certain things that will have to be forgotten once those kids are here. Some of these might not be noticed when they are a baby. But once they get older and you start adding more than one. You might as well forget about these things.
Food/ Eating on a regular basis
Unless you have a super duper stay-at-home wife that can cook up a meal while toting a baby and have every meal ready when it’s time. Eating is just going to be hit or miss.
Babies don’t normally eat on a schedule. And when they get older they get even needier until they hit about 4 or 5 and can pretty much sit and feed themselves and behave.
Toddlers are actually the worse. They are still learning so they will throw food on the ground, cups on the ground, and put food in their hair. Pretty much the food is going anywhere but their face.
All of this to say eat when you get the chance. If you are cooking, eat while you cook. If you can sneak into the kitchen and grab a bite while it is still hot then by all means do it.
My main suggestion is to teach them early that sitting at the table and eating together is the way to go. Don’t be tempted to eat in the living room while watching TV. It makes it so much easier to eat together.
Making phone calls
As a society, we don’t make too many phone calls these days. It is mostly text messages or instant messages. But when you need to make a phone call and you have kids around. It ain’t going to be easy.
I work from home, and it is a struggle during the summer when the kids are out of school to do conference calls. A constant barrage of interruptions and loud noises make phone calls a disaster.
Consider having a sign on your office/bedroom door to let the kids know you are on a phone call. This won’t work well for those that can’t read (or babies) but maybe it will help weed out the distractions for the older kids.
Leaving the house on time
Are you a punctual person? Get ready for that to go out the window. Unless you plan way ahead and move your schedule up so you can leave early, you still won’t be on time.
This is a typical scenario:
We have everything ready and heading to the car.
Me to toddler: Where are your shoes?
Toddler: I don’t like those shoes.
Me: Then pick different shoes.
[5 minutes later]
Me: What are you doing?
[Toddler is playing with toys now]
Me: Please put on your shoes!
Toddler: I don’t want to wear shoes!
[5 minutes later (STILL HAVEN’T LEFT!)]
Me: I will give you a candy bar if you put on shoes.
This is a real scenario. Kids are just weird and will space out on you. One minute everything is great and the next minute your 4-year-old has on a Halloween costume that she finds in the closet to wear to church.
How do we handle this? This one is the most difficult to tackle. But starting early and trying to anticipate every crazy scenario that your kids can come up with will help. Be prepared for something to go wrong or for someone to have a meltdown.
Having alone time with your wife
If you are a dad I hope you understand the mechanics behind what made that happen. And most men enjoy performing that duty even after they have a kid or two.
But there are challenges here.
The first hurdle is when the baby is a baby mom can’t have sex. Then while she is breastfeeding you have an attachment in the way.
Then as they get older it feels like they are always attached. They are either snuggled up next to mom or worst case they are sleeping in your bed.
The other issue is your wife’s energy might be done for. After taking care of little ones all day she probably just wants to go to sleep after the kids do.
And it isn’t even sex. Just wanting to hang out with your wife and have a nice conversation is difficult to do when you have kids.
How do we solve this? Well, it’s a big reason why marriages can fall apart. One or both partners are not being satisfied which leads to infidelity. But the biggest thing you can do is make sure your communication with your spouse is open.
Talk about it. Don’t make it taboo in your house. Let your spouse know that you have needs and work together on a plan to meet those needs. Whether it is coming up with a dedicated schedule, or establishing code words to know when it is going to happen.
And be mindful of your spouse’s feelings. The sex drive gets really tricky after the kids are around. And medications can cause a sex drive to go straight to zero.
Before you had kids would you go do a weekly guy’s night out? Maybe go play poker or go hang out at a bar?
After kids, you can forget about that. You now have a responsibility to be around and take care of someone besides yourself.
Hobbies, parties, and vacations all might be gone. I’m not trying to say you can’t do those things. Just don’t expect them to be a priority in your life anymore.
To help keep your sanity you may want to keep some hobbies or go on a vacation. Just make sure you have a plan. Your hobby may need to change or you may need to adapt your hobby so your kids can get involved.
I loved to fish and go camping. After I had kids I rarely got to do those things. Until they were old enough to hold a fishing pole. Now my kids love to go fishing with me, and my youngest son will sometimes have to drag me out to go fishing because he wants to go so much.
For vacations or things like that maybe change how far you travel, or find good babysitters you can trust to watch the kids for a weekend while you enjoy yourself. Just remember to not overdo it and keep your kids in mind.
Watching what you want to watch on TV
I can remember the days of sitting around in the evening and finding my favorite shows to watch on my TV. Even when my oldest son was a baby he couldn’t watch so I would tune in to the weekly episode of Survivor or watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation during Christmas time.
But then my kids got into watching cartoons. And I no longer know what it is to have my own TV. I still can’t figure out how it happened but I went from watching CSI to Teletubbies.
How do you get your TV back?
Well, there are lots of ways to solve this. Some may be good others may make you not feel good about your parenting skills.
You can buy them their own TV so they can watch their shows in their own room. We have even made a little area for our kids to watch their own TV (with headphones) so we can keep an eye on them and stay in our living room.
You can get them tablets. This one is a dangerous path. Doing this early can lead to some addiction issues but it can also be a good way to get some peace and quiet while they watch a show. Just use it in moderation.
You can just not let them watch TV at all. Play is really all your kids need. But when doing this you really have to be mindful of what you watch so you do not expose them to foul language or other bad ideas they might see on TV.
You can introduce them to the cartoons you love. Do you like anime? Or maybe you used to watch Scooby Do or Tom and Jerry as a kid. Introduce them to those old-school cartoons you love and get them hooked. That way when you have to watch with them it is tolerable.
A clean house
If you have kids then your house is not clean. I don’t care if you just finished the biggest deep clean you have ever seen, 1 minute later a kid will make a mess.
Toddlers are notorious for making a mess while they eat. They are still transitioning from eating with their hands to navigating using a fork and/or spoon. But I feel their favorite pastime is to drop food on the floor for you to clean up.
And it doesn’t seem to get better when they get older. You would hope the older they get the cleaner they would be but sometimes it gets worse.
How do you maintain a clean house with kids then? Well, there is no easy answer. You can be relentless and clean every day but that takes a lot of energy.
As they get older I would start giving them a broom and let them help clean up. Then as they reach double digits in age make it mandatory. Stay on them and eventually you might get a neat freak or two.
Being caught up on laundry
Seriously how many loads a week do I have to do? It is a never-ending cycle. You wash all the clothes but then at the end of the day, you have another load ready.
The old joke is that when we were kids there was a movie called the Neverending Story. As adults, our Neverending story is called laundry.
I don’t know if anyone has come up with a solution to this one. As they get older you can have them do the laundry and at least that might help some. If they can fold clothes make them do it and they will have a greater appreciation for not dirtying up more clothes.
Even when things look rough there is always a bright side. Having kids doesn’t have to be an end to your personal life. It should be looked at more like a new chapter. And with every chapter, the main character grows and learns.
Now that you have children your life will grow and you will learn what works and doesn’t work. Just remember to always be ready for change and prepare for the worst. It still won’t prepare you for everything your kids will throw at you, but it might help.