When pregnant, women probably realize that becoming a mom is going to be the most life-changing event they’ll ever experience. But chances are she won’t really understand all the little ways motherhood affects her life until her newborn goes home with her. When people say motherhood changes everything, they really mean everything— not just one’s mind, body, and soul, but also bathroom habits and personal hygiene. Needless to say, not all these changes are fun.
The fact that you’re now getting only a fraction of the sleep you need is probably the biggest change you’ll experience and one of the things you’ll miss most about your pre-baby life. But chances are you knew that was coming and were prepared. You may not have been fully prepared, however, for how much time you’d spend smelly and covered in someone else’s body fluids, how long you’d go without a hot meal because you’re just too busy to eat, or how often you’d lose track of the last time you showered and put on clean clothes. Motherhood may be the best job in the world, but it’s also a dirty one.
Here are 15 things you’ll miss more than sleep when you’re a new mom.
15 Regular Showers
At some point when your baby is a few weeks old, you’ll find yourself wondering when the last time you had a shower was and being absolutely unable to remember. It happens to all new moms, because even though a nice hot shower is one of the few things that can make you feel vaguely human again when you’re exhausted and stressed, it’s hard to make it a priority. Your newborn usually spends those first few weeks attached to you in some way, whether it’s at your boob breastfeeding or just using you as a mattress and refusing to sleep anywhere else. In the rare moments you do get a little break, I’m willing to bet that showering ends up at least third on your to do list, behind sleeping and eating a proper meal.
14 Clean Clothes
No matter how amazing a wardrobe you had pre-baby, chances are once you’ve given birth you’ll end up in the universally understood mom uniform of yoga pants and hoodies with a messy topknot. And you won’t be able to fool anyone that you’re only dressed that way because you’re going to or coming from the gym, since the presence of one kind of baby bodily fluid or another will give you away. Moms always seem to be the ones holding the little one when they decide to spit up their milk or blow out their diaper, and our clothes pay for it. And it doesn’t end with babyhood— when your kid gets a little holder, your pants or top will inevitably be their favorite place to wipe their grubby little hands.
13 Hot Food
Food is one of life’s great pleasures, but motherhood manages to ruin that a little bit. Some of the best advice I ever read when I was preparing for the arrival of my daughter was to stock up on foods that could be eaten with one hand— think sandwiches and Hot Pocket type meals— because I’d only ever have one hand free. I found it to be totally true— with a newborn in my arms for the vast majority of the day, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to sit down and use a knife and fork like a proper adult. And even though my daughter is a little older now and we can sit at the table together, my plate still often ends up getting cold while I’m more focused on getting her to eat her dinner without throwing it on the floor.
12 Bathroom Privacy
Only moms know what it’s like to be so loved that we can’t even go to the bathroom alone, because our little ones simply can’t bare to be separated from us for the 20 seconds it takes to pee (either that, or they know us being trapped on the toilet is a great opportunity for them to get into mischief by raiding the bathroom cabinets). While it can be pretty hilarious when your little one starts trying to bust down the bathroom door just to get to you, it can also be super annoying. I usually don’t mind having a little visitor with me, and I try to think of it as a good way to get my daughter comfortable with the idea of using the potty, but sometimes I just want those 20 seconds to myself. Sometimes you just need to do your business without an audience.
11 Alone Time
From the moment your baby is born and right on through the first several years (or maybe even decades) of their life, they’ll spend more time with you than with anyone else. Being attached at the hip to your baby is kind of amazing— there’s nothing like the mother and child bond. But of course, it has its downsides, too. As we’ve already mentioned, when it’s hard to find a couple of minutes just to go to the bathroom or shower alone, it’s sometimes nearly impossible to get a real break— something like going shopping or out to lunch, or even just to sleep in and lounge around in bed with a book. And in one of the great ironies of motherhood, when you do manage to get some time completely to yourself… you’ll probably find yourself missing your kid.
10 Spending Money Without Guilt
Most moms I know find it super hard to spend money on themselves. It’s not even about whether they can afford it— even those with plenty of disposable income feel selfish spending it on themselves, and end up buying even more toys and junk that their kids really don’t need. While their kids are in brand new designer duds, they’re rocking worn out yoga pants and shoes that went out of fashion years ago. Moms always seem to tell themselves that the money they’re tempted to spend on themselves could be put to better use elsewhere. But if your bills are paid and there’s food on the table, you deserve a treat every now and then, too. When you’re agonizing over whether to hit the checkout button on your online cart, just remember that a happy mom is a better mom.
9 Being Able To Concentrate
It starts with pregnancy brain— the forgetfulness and absentmindedness that make you feel like you’re getting dumber by the minute— but it doesn’t end there. Lack of sleep, lots of stress, and the fact that your attention is constantly being pulled in 50 different directions can make moms feel like having children lowered their IQ’s by a few dozen points. You no longer have much time for intellectual pursuits like reading, but when you do, you might feel like your brain has been turned to mush by all those mind-numbing children’s shows and songs playing all day in your house. Sometimes you can’t even focus on a TV show or movie because your brain is just too exhausted from taking care of your baby all day— not that you ever get your hands on the remote, anyway.
8 That Pre-Baby Body
Even the Hollywood stars who seem to drop the baby weight and bounce back to their pre-pregnancy bodies in a flash would probably tell you that things aren’t really the same after having a baby. Even if you lose the weight and your stomach goes flat again, you could still be plagued by any number of issues— saggy and/or uneven boobs, stretch marks in places you didn’t realize could stretch, a suddenly misshapen belly button… the list goes on and on. If you weren’t happy with your body before having a baby, chances are you’ll still end up looking back on it longingly afterward. If it’s any consolation, those so-called imperfections are just visible proof of the amazing feat your body pulled off— bringing a brand new beautiful baby into the world.
7 Being Spontaneous
The days of being able to get up and go are over once you have kids. Things as simple as a quick trip to the grocery store or a spur of the moment movie date are so much more difficult to achieve with a baby in the picture. Running errands means packing the diaper bag, planning around your baby’s naps, and getting them properly dressed for the weather. It takes up so much more time than the 3 minutes you need to actually spend doing your errand. With the day to day stuff being a headache, the big stuff like spontaneous road trips or vacations are even more impossible. It’ll definitely get better in a few years once your child is older, but in the baby days you’ll probably much prefer to order take out and hang out at home than attempt a night on the town.
6 Watching TV Without Interruption
It’s a good thing that your TV most likely has the ability to pause and rewind whatever show you’re trying to watch, because thanks to your baby, everything you watch is going to be full of stops and starts. Just when you get all settled in and comfy on the couch, your baby will inevitably start to fuss, or maybe start to stink, and you’ll have to pull yourself up to attend to their needs. By the time you’ve finished taking care of them, you’ll have totally forgotten what’s going on with the plot. And even if you do get to watch something without any interruptions, you still most likely won’t be giving it your full attention because one eye will be on the screen and the other will be on your baby, just in case.
5 Adult Time
Sex might be pushed to the very back of your mind once you’ve got a tiny baby at home, but in the off chance that you are interested in a little romp between the sheets, you’ll have to work pretty hard to find the energy/time/privacy for it (good luck with that). You’ll pretty much always be too tired for sex, or too busy for it, or too glued to your baby for it. If you do manage to set aside some time for a romantic encounter, it seems to be some kind of law that you’ll immediately hear your baby crying for you from the other room at the worst possible moment. It’s like they somehow know that they better interrupt you—before they end up with a sibling.
4 Not Having To Share Everything
It’s hard to have anything to yourself when you’re a mom, because you’re constantly being forced to share with your kid. It starts with physical stuff— you share your body for 9 months of pregnancy, and you share your breasts if you choose to breastfeed. You might have to share your bed if you’re co-sleeping, which means you no longer have the ability to stretch out and relax after a long day— you’re sometimes too paranoid to budge an inch because you don’t want to accidentally hurt the baby snoozing away next to you. As they get a little older, you’ll probably end up having to share your food (because whatever is on mommy’s plate somehow always looks way more delicious than what’s on theirs). No wonder moms end up hiding in the bathroom to scarf down a snack sometimes.
3 Running Errands Alone
I jokingly call my daughter the Mayor of our local Target, because she spends so much time there and loves to wave to random people and cashiers (her constituents, obviously). While we do usually have fun on our grocery runs, the process of getting her there can be a pain. Packing up her diaper bag, lugging her down to the car, finding a shopping cart that she can sit in safely, making sure she doesn’t swipe anything off the shelves… it all turns what should be a relatively quick errand into a major outing for the day. I hate to waste a babysitter for something boring like food shopping, but I do enjoy the days when I get to go there solo way too much— blasting music in the car on the way there and taking my sweet time wandering the aisles.
2 Not Worrying Constantly
The worrying starts pretty much the moment you find out you’re expecting a baby, and I guess ends… when you die? When you’re pregnant, you worry about whether your baby is developing properly, if they’re kicking enough, if you’re eating well enough. Once they’re born, you worry about how much they eat, how much they poop, how much they sleep, whether they’re getting enough stimulation, whether they even like you… There seems to be an endless number of things that keep moms up at night. The worries will change as they get older, but probably won’t be any less intense or less frequent. I guess moms just have to get used to “anxious” being their permanent state of mind, because that’s what our insane and unconditional love for our kids does to us.
1 Not Feeling Guilty
Worrying and feeling guilty seem to go hand in hand for most moms, unfortunately. Moms can probably find a million different things to feel guilty about in the course of a day: that they didn’t wake up right away when their baby started to cry, that they didn’t realize their baby’s diaper was dirty right away, or that they didn’t play with their baby enough (although really, how do you even play with a newborn baby that does nothing but eat, sleep, and poop?). Moms feel guilty for taking a break from their babies, and sometimes for even just wanting to take a break from their babies. I’m guilty of agonizing over all of these things and more, even though the rational part of my brain knows it’s ridiculous. We’re all just trying the best we can, and that’s all our babies need from us.