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How much does having children really change your life?(212 Posts)
I'm not quite ready to have children yet and I know everyone says 'your life is completely changed forever' but that is really difficult to imagine. I've never had younger siblings or cousins either. I want to hear from you all of the little day to say things that change - for the better or worse! And whether you think it's best to start having kids earlier or to wait? I want to make a fully formed decision when the time is right!
Of course children radically changes your life. You have a whole other person (or people) to consider. Their needs (physical, mental, emotional) mostly have to come before yours particularly when they are small.
They are hard work but they are awesome too.
You can’t just leave the house. They’re in bed at night and you’ve run out of milk? You can’t pop out and get some if there’s not another adult in the house.
You spend years when they’re small having lunch at 12 and tea at 5 because you want to eat as a family.
You will never watch the 6 o’clock news again because it’s bath time!
You buy clothes based on which ones will wash best. Dry clean only? No way Jose.
Hi thanks for your reply. I am interested in hearing a few concrete examples of things I can expect to change. I.e. it takes 3x as long to get anywhere etc etc
@PotteringAlong haha thanks this is great!!
In my experience : Your time is never your own, your space is never your own, your body is never your own, your brain is full of someone else's needs. It's exhausting, frustrating, tedious and soul destroying at times (many times!) You forget who you are, and it can seriously damage your relationship. The world and its horrors are much harder to handle when you have kids. I feel guilty every single day for bringing a child into this world.
On the upside...! Kids are fascinating, wonderful, balls of energy, it is wonderful seeing the world through their innocent eyes, they make you much less selfish, they give you love you never could have imagined, they are brilliant.
I had kids later in life (late 30s)so had a good life, lots of travel, night, good career etc. For me biggest downside for having kids when older is it is bloody knackering!
Everything just becomes a massively effort.
Practical examples: simple every day tasks take ages, you carry a shed load of stuff everywhere, clothes get covered in puke and snot. You might get a shower if you are lucky. No privacy whatsoever, to have a poo change a tampon etc. Food gets lovingly made then thrown on floor or ignored. You rarely get to read a book. Your house is a tip. Other than that it's all good!
Children are an absolute life changer. They change your life so completely it's hard to explain it until it happens! Big things;
- Money. I've given up work to be a SAHM. We have nothing like the disposable income we did pre dc and what we have has to go further.
- Time. Children need lots of your time. When they're little they need feeding and cleaning and entertaining. They need taking to parties and want to feed the ducks and want to go to the library....etc.
- Stuff. They need loads of stuff. On mn it seems to be common to say that babies need very little and whilst I think that's true my experience is that they come with lots of stuff. And of course you need a bigger house to put it all in.....which costs more money....return to point one!
- The Fear. I am a worrier by nature but the fear that something might happen to my children in immense. The worst thing about being a parent.
The little things include not having hot drinks, carrying the contents of mothercare with you wherever you go, no spontaneity etc.
The best thing? My children are ace. They have cute feet. I couldn't live without them .
A few ‘concrete’ that changed for me:
Leaving the house is now a military operation requiring advance planning
The washing machine is on every day
I no longer have lovely long showers
I’m always tired!
Oh and last one, mine for up before 5am every day for almost 6 years.
Meant to say 'got up' before 5am every day...
Parenthood is a strange thing. Parents often make it difficult or more difficult than it should be. They become sticklers for routines, nightly bathing, snackless lives, sports clubs and play dates. I'm not saying it's straightforward or easy peasy but I often witness people who make a rod for their own backs.
I think it REALLY changes your life. For me, it was about just not having the same sort of freedom as before. Like you can't just do what you want. You can't sleep when you want. There's little staying up late at night anymore (or at least very rarely) because I have to be up at 6am pretty much every day, 365 days a year. If we are sick and feverish and vomiting, we still have to get up at 6am. If I had a big project to finish at work and stayed up til 2am, still up at 6am.
You can't go and do things whenever you want to. Like leaving the house in the evenings. It's so rare that either of us is not home by 6pm. On rare occasions when we, say, get a take away, I usually drive to go get it (we live too far for delivery) and it's now like the most exciting thing to actually go out after dark! We're both almost always home at that time as we need to get our dd dinner and a bath and to bed (because we do relish the 2 hours of quiet, adult time we get in the evenings before we go to bed). So like, if I'm in the car and driving somewhere at 7 in the evening, it honestly feels pretty luxurious now! That sounds really silly and I couldn't have imagined feeling that way before kids, but it's so rare to leave the house at times like that.
And your time just isn't your own anymore. Before we used to spend our weekends taking walks or going to the pub or I'd go for a long run most of Saturday morning. But it's hard to do those things now. Weekends are mostly cleaning and running around and doing the food shopping and family activities. It's rare we'd go out for dinner or meet friends for drinks as one of us has to be at home. We do on occasion meet friends for drinks still, but it's hard to go out and do things as a couple (so like individually we make plans to see a friend, but it's really only a few times a year now as our friends equally are busy and home with their kids and have no childcare). Just the logistics of getting out and doing things are difficult. I imagine maybe it's easier if you have family around to help, but we don't. It's just us, unless we pay a babysitter and that's more a treat than a regular occurrence.
So that makes it sound awful, doesn't it?! I absolutely love my kids and I couldn't imagine life without them, but it does change things and for me it was about not having the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted. I think that probably does get easier though when kids get older. It's really only when they are little that it's hard in that way (my eldest is 5 now and I can see how in another few years things with her would be easier). Certainly the parents I know with teenagers have lots of 'freedom' again, but probably other stresses. For me though, the key was living life before I had kids and being ready to make a huge life change. Waiting until I was older really helped I think. I had my first at 32 and 2nd at 37. I truly lived life up until then. I partied, I worked hard, I traveled, I lived abroad, etc. I did everything I wanted to do to be really selfish, so it wasn't so hard to shift life to being a bit quieter because I don't feel like I missed out on anything when I was young. I definitely wouldn't have wanted to have kids sooner than I did, but that's just me.
Some minor examples
You can never go to the toilet alone again
You can never just ‘nip’ anywhere
Lie ins will never ever happen again (even if you have a partner, as you will always get woken up at some point)
You have to cook (forget drinking a bottle of wine instead of eating) for small people
You wanted concrete examples. DH and I rarely go out together now as it involves a babysitter which is a hassle. We do go out a lot but are like ships in the night. And going out now means a committee meeting of some sort of the other!
We really don't get on as well as we used to. 6 years of little sleep plus slightly different views in things, eg how much TV they can watch.
If one of you is away for a weekend or out you really are stuck with the children, eg can't just go for a run.
I know you wanted concrete examples, but the main effect on me has been on my mental health. I am a little depressed and bad tempered. Depression runs through the women in my family and having children has been my trigger. I was laid back, passionate and very very active before children.
They are 6 and 3 now and it's getting easier, no doubt.
Having children isn't something you can really prepare yourself for, in all honesty. I admire your need to plan but every single parent will have a different experience of how their life changes, because we are all different and so is every child. For instance, I know some parents with the same age kids as me and they're still co-sleeping, or have their toddler climbing into their bed in the middle of the night (obvious implications there on the bedroom activity...). Not the case for me as my toddler sleeps through solid for 12 hours and has no interest in our bed!
All I'm saying is, you can't really get "concrete" examples because each experience is different.
Everything about your life changes! The timings of your day, your attitude to life, your ability to work, your finances, your relationship with your partner, often your understanding of your relationship with your own parents. Your body (and possibly aspects of your long-term health - pregnancy kicked off high bp for me and I'm still on medication for it a decade later), your ability to do things spontaneously, the type of holidays you go on, your priorities about where you live, the friends you make, how you spend your free time, the food you eat, the amount of stuff you own, the tidiness of your house...
The list goes on and on. And that's without considering the possibility of a high needs child. I think lots of people only think about how having a baby will change their lives. But they don't stay babies for long. My babies are 9 and 12 but the fact that they no longer require constant supervision doesn't change the fact that my daily life is the life of a parent.
There's changes like less sleep, less time for you and your partner alone, harder to have holidays, and when you do they are likely to be primarily about the children rather than a relaxing adult time, constant tidying up.
None of its as bad as it sounds in my opinion though.
Its easy to list the bad parts of parenting and hard to explain how good the good parts are if you haven't yet experienced it. People wouldn't have more than one if they were that bad.
The cost of DC is insane. The time spent cleaning up after them is a lot.
First child, laundry increased by 33%. 2nd child laundry increased by 25%. 3rd child laundry increased by 20%. The same concept applies to your weekly shop.
Going out for dinner is expensive. If you leave them at home you are paying for a sitter. If you bring them with you it's very challenging to actually enjoy your meal and it's expensive because they eat and drink too.
Complete life change, but definitely for the better in my case.
I am woken up up least once often two or three times a night (he’s 17 months).
Even at the weekend one of you has to get up when they get up so at best you get one lie in a week past your child’s wake up time of choice.
One of you then has to have the baby/toddler in the bathroom with you while you shower etc.
You then have to get them dressed as well as yourself, probably give them breakfast (depending on Nursery arrangements), pack their bag and wrangle them into the car. There is no option to just rush out the door and grab a coffee and cereal bar when you get to work!
When you get home you try to balance a whiny hungry child who needs a snack against them eating the dinner that you are cooking while they hang on to your leg. Food should always be nutritionally balanced, low salt, low sugar - it’s not just your health any more so very few shortcuts.
Now someone needs to persuade the toddler to have a bath then read at least 3 books and finally settle them in to bed.
Now you start doing the additional washing and tidying. As a pp has said, if you want to go out, someone else has to be there.
At the weekends, car journeys have to be planned with regular stops for food and exercise, activities have to be based around what they find fun, or at least are not totally awful for them.
You have to agree a parenting strategy with your partner and attempt to enact it even when you are throughly fed up. You find lots of creative ways of saying no, distracting, bribing etc.
Pretty much you have to place the needs of another human above your own and balance their wants with yours and your partners. Fundamentally you spend a lot less time doing what you’d like to.
You also however get amazing cuddles and smiles, the fascination of watching them learn and grow. It’s awesome.
Oh and this is all toddler age, no idea what the future holds!
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