When you’re pregnant, you prepare for parenthood: You read books, set up a baby registry, and decide whether to work or stay home. And also when you’re pregnant, people will give you advice – solicited or not. But what are some of the things that they don’t tell you?
Here are seven things about parenthood you haven’t prepared for – and that nobody will warn you about.
1. How much space they’ll take up.
Babies are small, right? So it’s natural to assume that their footprint on your home can be contained to the nursery that you’ve carefully decorated and organized. But the truth is that one day you’ll look around your living room and see a swing, a bouncy seat, a pack-n-play, and a bumbo.
Then you’ll walk into the dining room and see the high chair, eating mat, and a bib hanging off the back of a chair. From there you’ll glance into the kitchen and see the bottle warmer, bottle drying rack, and a cupboard full of sippy cups and toddler utensils. Your baby may be small, but trust me – their stuff is not.
2. How desperate you’ll be for sleep.
You’ll hear time and time again warnings from seasoned parents about how tired you’ll be. But you won’t know what it actually feels like until you experience it – and you definitely won’t know how desperate you’ll become for a good night’s rest until you’re in the thick of it. After months of short nights and frequent wake-ups, things that you swore you’d never do may suddenly feel reasonable. You may consider co-sleeping when you believed firmly in sleep training.
You may consider bottle-feeding over breastfeeding so your partner can relieve you during the night hours. You may opt to let your baby cry-it-out when just a few months before it seemed heartless. There’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. It does crazy things to your brain.
3. How angry you’ll get sometimes.
It’s a complete paradox that every mom experiences: the object of your greatest love and the source of your greatest frustration are the same teeny and adorable little person. It feels like the stakes are so high that when things go awry it can be hard to deal with – especially as you begin to realize that no matter what parenting strategy you use, you can’t really control your child. Moms are often caught off guard by the intensity of their anger when dealing with children and need to work extra hard to maintain good self-control.
4. The number of diapers you’ll go through.
You know you’ll change diapers. You’ll know they’ll be gross. But the sheer volume of them that you’ll go through? It’s alarming. During the first month, babies go through ten diapers a day. That means if you pick up the average 20-count package at your local grocery store, you’ll be buying a new pack every other day. And if you buy the 40-count “jumbo pack,” you’ll still be going through two of them a week.
5. How much you’ll sweat.
There is so much sweating after bringing home baby. First, come the postpartum hormones; as your body adjusts after childbirth, you may experience night sweats and have to change your sheets as often as the baby’s diaper. Then comes all the snuggling. It’s wonderful, but between holding the baby and closeness when breastfeeding, it’s super easy to overheat. And then you have to deal with carrying the baby.
Whether you’re wearing your baby and walking around the house, or lugging that heavy car seat carrier around town while running errands, I guarantee that you’ll be working up a sweat.
6. That failure will feel so heavy.
Some moms enter motherhood planning to do everything perfectly. Others understand that things are guaranteed to sometimes go sideways. But what’s nearly impossible to prepare for is the weight of those failures. Because motherhood is the most important thing we have ever done, and we are completely responsible for the successful raising of these little human beings, when the smallest thing goes awry it can feel like we have permanently damaged our kids in some way.
7. That you’ll have to teach them everything.
You know you’ll have to teach them the big things in life – but you overlook the fact that you’ll have to teach them the little things, too. You’ll have to teach them how to wipe their bottom.
How to tie their shoes. How to make eye contact with an adult when they’re answering a question.
Tonight, my son was helping cook dinner and I asked him to cut off a piece of butter from the stick. When I looked over, he was trying to do it with scissors. Apparently, I have to teach him how to do that, too.
In the end
It’s impossible to enter parenthood completely prepared, but everyone tries. Seasoned parents will warn you about some of the bigger adjustments you’ll have to deal with, but there are several things you’ll quickly learn on your own after welcoming a sweet little addition to your family. What was your biggest surprise upon entering motherhood?
About the Author
Jenny is a mother of two, a coffee addict and a lover of the great outdoors. When she isn’t trying to get her kids off their screens and out in the yard, you can find her blogging about her experiences of being a parent at Mom Loves Best.