Children are such a blessing; they fill the house with laughter, say the cutest things and are such a joy to be around. One of my favourite things ever is receiving toddler hugs or having my toddler run into my arms and drop a big sloppy kiss on my cheek. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
Well for those of you who already have children, you will probably agree with me when I say that the little bursts of joy definitely come with their own challenges. For every hug you get, that’s an extra few hours of night wakings, nursing the little upset tummies. For every kiss you get, that’s an extra few pieces of broccoli thrown on the floor. For every “I love you” you get, that’s an extra tantrum added to the list. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Who knows!
When I fell pregnant, quite a few things ran through my mind specifically;
How will this impact my career progression?
How will this change my relationship?
How will life be when the baby comes?
These are all very selfish questions but quite significant in the grand scheme of things. You see, as a woman in a fast paced white collar environment, having children means a few months of ‘money making’ turned into maternity leave, sick days taken to care for a sick baby immediately followed by time off for personal recovery as you will most likely fall ill as well. Let’s not forget the doctor’s trips, sleepless nights and cancelled business trips because there is suddenly a new human who is more important than the 9-5! You see, when I first found out I was pregnant, I wasn’t happy, I was scared. I was worried that life would change so drastically that I wouldn’t recognise myself or even enjoy the first few years of financial freedom that I had finally gotten. I wasn’t imagining the baby shower, the decorating or any of the cute outfits that I was going to get for spawn… all of that came later. I was worried about me first, then the relationship that had finally solidified into something promising. Today I can say with conviction that becoming a mother is such a beautiful and natural thing that no woman should ever be penalized for, but it is naive to pretend as though things don’t change.
These changes are not limited to the working environment. When those pink lines appeared on that (deadly) white stick, I was wary of how my relationship would change, worried that my husband and I would not get to enjoy the honeymoon phase. In hindsight, I should’ve given him more credit because in every situation he has proven to be far more supportive and caring than I ever hoped for. What I do have to admit is that despite his caring nature, several things did change in the relationship which aren’t necessarily bad, just …. different. Having kids is really a fun but trying experience, so I find it really important to use this platform and share what changes took me by surprise so that at least one person is better prepared than I was.
One of the most beautiful things in a relationship (and something that my husband and I valued) was the spontaneously doing the things we both loved. It is definitely still possible to plan a night out or a weekend getaway, but these plans have to take into account the availability of a babysitter and/or any prescheduled activities we have set up for our daughter. Of course there is always a way around it, but things just never are the same. If you are anything like me and tend to do things last minute – international travel included- this will have to change once you have a child. Let’s not forget the unexpected emergencies that seem to be magically synchronised to the times reserved for special events. It is definitely not a train smash, but it can deter a couple from doing quite a number of things.
I learnt very early on in life that 1+1 = 3 so this one came at no surprise to me. If you need to know anything about me, it is that saving and budgeting was drilled into my DNA after the hard learnt lessons of university life. Just to create an even clearer picture, my first job ever was financial accounting, so if the lesson wasn’t learnt before, I definitely learnt a thing or two about allocating funds accordingly. If you think that I would’ve been mentally prepared for all of the extra costs that came along with parenthood, you’re not the only one who was fooled. Having children is not cheap and unless you and your partner are on the same page about how to allocate funds to the upbringing of your child, this may potentially become a challenge. In last week’s post Toni mentioned this as one of the crucial things to discuss with your partner and I need to say that it will definitely come up throughout your child’s life as you navigate through school choices, emergencies, etc. For my husband and I, this was never an issue, but my personal goal of visiting at least 2 new countries a year has definitely been put on hold.
Sorry kids, this one isn’t for you so take a commercial break and join us on the next point. It is only natural that this part of a relationship gets affected when the kids are still young, but if a couple isn’t careful, it can cause problems down the line. I have to admit that I’m fairly new in this parenting game but room sharing with a toddler can get quite awkward when it’s time for intimacy. It’s not just that though – sleepless nights, busy schedules and fatigue will definitely have an impact on any relationship. Whatever your fancy is as a couple, you have to admit that boundaries do need to be put in place and the ever-so-famous ‘planning’ we discussed earlier on will need become a well established skill.
I love my daughter to bits and everyone who knows or has heard of me would know that. One thing that I did not expect to happen was the change in mindset that becoming a parent had on me. While this is not something that everyone will experience, it is definitely something that took me by surprise – my priorities shifted. Before having a baby, I was the person who always had her hand up for business trips, the first one in the office and one of the last to leave. In short, my career was my life. Nowadays, the priority has shifted to focusing on bonding with my daughter and being an amazing wife (although I’m not quite sure I’ve figured out the latter). When kids get thrown into the mix, one of three things can happen; one person changes, both change, or neither change their priorities. While this is not a bad thing, you have to realise that the person you are with is no longer seeing life through the same lens as you. So when you have two highly ambitious people, hungry for professional growth and suddenly one only wants to stay home and be the homemaker, serious dialogue will be required for the relationship to stay strong. In some cases, just the opposite happens.
There are many more things that do change, but I’ll leave it here for now as we will dig a little deeper into it when we tackle the ‘important things every couple should discuss before having kids’. What I do want to leave you with is that with love and communication, raising kids can be the best experience any couple will go through.
If you haven’t already, make sure to catch up on the other parts of the series.
Why you should consider delaying your wedding – by Shelly
Things You Should Ask Yourself Before Getting Married – by Toni
Ten important things you should discuss with your partner before getting married – by Toni
Until next time!