Before becoming parents, we are warned over and over by well meaning strangers about how our world is about to be turned upside down. It seems we can't even step foot in a grocery store without someone eyeing our baby bumps and giving us some sort of friendly advice to prepare us for all the hardships that come along with parenting.
"She should sleep while she can" they say.
Obviously, because sleeping while hugely pregnant is super comfortable and if she sleeps a lot while pregnant maybe she can keep some hours on reserve for those sleepless nights with a new baby.
Or, "I hope the labor is easier than mine was..." is always a great indicator that a fun story is coming right up. There is nothing a been-there-done-that mom loves more than to tell a first-time mom about how her epidural didn't work.
These are the things they warn us about. The things we expect to be the "hard stuff". But in reality, the hard stuff is actually not that hard compared to some of the less expected struggles that come with raising little humans.
Here are 10 parts of parenting that are harder than expected and 10 that are actually easier.
20 Harder: Other People's Kids
So here is the scoop. No matter how well behaved, polite, friendly, gentle, and kind your kids may be, you will likely still have to deal with some less than pleasant kids.
We're talking other people's kids.
Unless you live in a bubble, there is a pretty good chance you are going to find yourself in some awkward situations involving a little Johny or Suzy who can't seem to stop throwing dirt at your kids on the playground.
The older and more active your kids become, the worse it gets. You teach your child to be kind and to share and treat others the way they want to be treated and that is great. But unfortunately not every parent does this. Your kids are going to encounter some kids that are just "not nice" ( because we can't call kids names).
Having your kids picked on by other kids is one of a parent's worst fears. Nobody wants to see or hear about their kids being hurt, ever. Hearing about it happening at daycare or school is bad enough but when it happens in a setting where both kid's parents are present it can lead to some uncomfortable conversations.
The hardest part of dealing with other people's kids is that it means you have to deal with other kid's parents.
19 Harder: Getting Out The Door Everyday
There was a time, before kids, where going somewhere was easy. All you had to do was make yourself presentable and off you go.
Add a kid or two to the mix and you quickly find that simply getting out the door is often the biggest challenge of any given day.
The more little humans to wrangle, feed, groom, and herd out the door, the greater the battle.
If you are on a schedule, the clock is your enemy. The minutes never go faster than when you are racing around trying to get everyone ready to face the outside world. Sometimes it may seem as if your kids and the clock join forces to take you down.
When they are babies they don't want put down, right? So your morning is spent rushing around doing everything one handed between several failed attempts at getting them to sit happily in their swing or bouncer for "just a minute". When you are finally get them buckled into their carseat, you better believe they are going to spit up or blowout their diaper. Well, only if you are already behind schedule.
As they get older, they switch to wanting nothing to do with you and your attempts at brushing their hair and teeth. They fight your best efforts to dress them like a model for Baby Gap and in the end you accept defeat and let them wear the torn superhero costume out, again. But still any hopes of getting out the door without a meltdown are lost when they realize they have to wear shoes.
Forget about making yourself presentable, you're already late, again.
18 Harder: Avoiding Germs
Did you ever dream you'd be a crazy Lysol spraying, hand sanitizing, germaphobe mom?
No? Yet here you are doing it.
We all know the reactions that new moms get when they lay out strict rules about hand washing and visitor restrictions with a new baby. Grandparents and older relatives typically snicker and roll their eyes and mumble about "new moms" under their breath.
But the fear that a new mom experiences when she hears about the nasty stomach bug going around is nothing compared to the absolute terror that strikes in a mother of 4.
That's right, you may relax more with each kid. You will certainly let your third kid get away with things you never would have let your first do. But, germs are an exception to that rule.
Unless you have had a winter of back to back to back sicknesses taking out a large family over and over again, you won't get it. You will laugh at the mom who screams "Do not touch ANYTHING" at her kids in Wal-Mart and makes them all strip on the porch before coming into the house after school.
The bottom line is this, no matter how many kids you have, there is nothing that can strike fear in a mom like the words "I'm going to puke". And let's be honest, it is rare that we even get that warning.
And so, we become crazy germaphobes. It is inevitable that your greatest nemesis will be the mom who sends her sick kid to school.
17 Harder: Finding Alone Time
Any parent knows that finding alone time is often impossible. From pretty much day one, your kids are obsessed with you. Someday, you'll likely miss that. But that doesn't make it any easier to accept the fact that it will be several years before you'll ever spend any amount of time in the bathroom alone.
Closed doors? Those don't mean anything to kids.
Privacy? What's that?
Finding alone time is often impossible but if you do find it, what should you even do first? Read that dusty book by your bed? Paint your nails? Take a nap? Or should you just take a shower for the first time all week and hope nobody finds you before you finish rinsing?
While most would agree that taking some time for yourself from time to time is not only acceptable, but healthy, that doesn't necessarily make it any easier. If it were easy, all moms would be sipping Starbucks in peace while getting weekly pedicures.
Some parents struggle with making time for themselves more than others. Working parents may feel like they need to spend every minute outside of work with their kids. Stay-at-home-moms may feel like they have no reason to need a sitter.
Whatever your situation, find comfort in knowing that across the board the struggle is real.
16 Harder: Feeding Them
It goes without saying that kids need to eat. Without food, they won't survive. We know that. But try telling that to a toddler.
Actually, the stress that goes along with feeding starts well before the toddler stage.
Expectant mothers will start fielding questions about whether they plan to breastfeed or formula feed well before the baby is even born. There is no right or wrong answer, but you will never make everyone happy (so don't even try!)
Whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed you'll surely have a few bumps along the road. And just when you finally have all the kinks worked out, it is time to introduce solids. Teaching a baby to eat solids and hoping for no allergies is always a messy adventure. Moms of multiple kids may be excited to start solids with their first baby but after that, it's just yet another mess to clean up everyday.
Hopefully, you get a baby who loves food and gobbles everything down.
But guess what, that veggie loving baby could turn into a picky toddler overnight.
In fact, having it out over dinner with a toddler who won't eat is almost a right of passage in parenthood.
One would hope it would get better after the toddler who eats nothing, but next comes the super picky kid who only eats 3 things for 5 years. Before you know it, you are making 3 different meals every night to suite all the picky eaters at your table. Don't worry, those years don't last forever. Before you know it, they'll be teenagers who will eat everything in sight and they will complain daily that, "there is nothing to eat in this house!"
15 Harder: Guilt
There are so many different ways to parent these days. Life is full of decisions and when it comes to your kids, there are no decisions taken lightly.
One of the biggest decisions parents have to make is who will work. Does dad work while mom stays home with the kids? Do both parents work while the kids go to daycare? Do you hire a nanny? Is the cost of childcare worth both of you working?
Every family will struggle with these decisions and question whether they are doing the right thing for their family.
The guilt of missing out on time with your kids, or not using your education, or not bringing in a paycheck is something a lot of parents deal with.
In fact, pretty much any decision you make for your family can stress you out and make you feel guilty. Once kids are added to the mix, it isn't just about you anymore. That big job promotion may be what you've always dreamed of, until you tell your little girl that she's moving away from her best friend.
Public school or private school? Organic food or frozen pizza? What doctor should you choose? Which car seat should you buy? Don't worry if you care enough to question your decision then you're doing it right.
14 Harder: Making Room
Most parents know the story. You buy a house or move into an apartment before kids and you wonder what you'll ever do with all the space. What will you ever put in all those closets? (Are you laughing yet?) Then, you add a baby to the mix.
How in the world does one tiny baby require SO much stuff?
But of course, you have to have everything that the baby registry lists say you need. Suddenly, your home doesn't feel so spacious.
Add another kid or two to the mix and extra closets are no longer an issue. Every holiday or birthday party leaves you wondering where in the world you will ever find room for more toys and clothes. Your once clean and organized basement becomes a mess of outgrown clothes and shoes and piles of toys to sort through if you ever get a chance. Your garage, once reserved for parking your precious car (now minivan) is now full of power wheels, bicycles, and sporting equipment.
You can get rid of things over and over again but we all know there will always be more.
13 Harder: Other People's Opinions
Opinions are a dime a dozen. Everyone has an opinion and it just so happens that parenting seems to be one of everybody's favorite things share theirs on, whether anyone asks for it or not.
You know how it goes. As soon as the world knows there is a baby on the way, the advice and opinions start flowing. Everyone from family to friends to complete strangers will offer their advice on which doctor you are seeing, how and where you'll deliver, how you'll feed your baby.
Once baby arrives, you'll get to hear everyone's opinion on how you're feeding, where baby is sleeping, what you named your baby... it truly never stops. Don't worry, you get really good at smiling and nodding like you're really taking their opinion seriously.
As your kids get older, the opinions will keep coming. No matter what you do you'll always have someone who thinks you're parenting style is too strict, or that you have your kids in too many activities, or that you spoil them too much.
If you feel like people are judging your decisions as a parent, you are probably right. But try not to let that bother you. Just as you feel your way is best, other parents feel strongly that theirs is the only way to go.
12 Harder: Leaving Your Kids
When you are preparing for parenthood you know that some things are going to be hard and so you brace yourself for those things. But what nobody can prepare you for, is the struggle that comes along with leaving your kids.
These little people who depend solely on you for their every need can sometimes suck the very life out of you. There are times that you think you would give anything for just a weekend to yourself without anyone screaming your name, asking you a million questions, touching you...
But then, something comes up and you have to leave them for one reason or another. Maybe it's a work related trip that you dread or perhaps it's a social obligation that you can't get out of without ruffling feathers, either way the pit you feel in your stomach over leaving your babies is one that so many parents can relate to.
You know they'll be fine with your spouse, grandparents, or whatever sitter you have lined up to care for them while they are gone.
But, that doesn't stop your brain from going into overdrive thinking of everything that could go wrong while you're gone.
The upside to leaving your kids? There is nothing better than those excited hugs when you return.
11 Harder: Keeping Up
Being a parent these days is hard you guys. It isn't like it was when our parents were raising us. Now, we put it all out there for everyone to see (and judge) on social media. Which results in the urge to constantly compare ourselves to others.
Why do we do this? Well we do it because everyone else does. If Carol down the street is going to post a picture of the Honor Roll list with all three of her kid's names highlighted than you better believe you're going to post how many goals your kids scored in this week's soccer game. And so it goes, the endless battle of keeping up.
We all want the very best for our kids which means being the best parents we can be. When we see other parents bragging about surprising their kids with a trip to Disney on Facebook it's easy to compare ourselves to them. Suddenly that new swing set you saved for months to buy doesn't seem like such a big deal.
It's easy to get sucked into the whole "Keeping up with the Joneses" game. You want your kids to have and be the best because you love them.
You want them to have the best opportunities and there isn't anything wrong with that. But just don't let yourself lose sight of what's really important.
10 Easier: The Sleepless Nights
For some reason the loss of sleep is one of the first things anyone mentions when the topic of newborn babies comes up. It's true, we humans do love our sleep. We are almost obsessed with how much sleep we do (or don't) get. Everyone else is too. One of the most common questions family and friends will ask a new mom is whether or not she's getting any sleep.
There is no denying that once kids enter the picture, you will probably never sleep as much as you used to. New babies need to eat every couple hours and sometimes they have their days and nights mixed up. But while it may be a shock at first, you really do get used to sleeping less. Caffeine may be your best friend for the first few months but it's s all about survival at that point.
As rough as the sleepless nights phase may be, in the grand scheme of things it really doesn't last long. If you can survive this phase you'll be ready for the next challenge parenthood has for you.
Before you know it, your sweet little baby isn't waking up through the night anymore and you may even find that you miss those precious quiet moments in the still of the night.
9 Easier: Diapers
Another part of parenting that many people dread is the diaper changing.
Diapers are the topic of conversation for many parents. (You know when you get to that point in life where all you have to talk about is your kids...)
All parents have at least one story about that one epic blowout in public that will stick with them forever. There is nothing that compares to the panic you feel when you're holding your sweet baby and they poop up their back and you feel wetness on your own shirt. But hey, memories!
Diapers are a challenge, that's a fact. First you have to learn to change the baby without getting pooped on or peed on... and good luck with that (another right of passage) then you have to learn to put the clean diaper on right.
Not only are diapers stinky and messy but they are expensive. Most parents would cry if they knew how much money they spent on diapers over the years.
But not to worry, the diaper phase doesn't last forever either. In fact, once you start potty training and your little one has to start using public bathrooms, you may even miss those diapers.
8 Easier: Delivery
Yes, you read that right. This isn't a typo. Labor and delivery are not on the hardest part of parenting list. When it comes to parenting, the very first thing you'll do for your baby, is to bring him or her into this crazy world.
And while delivering a baby can be pretty freaking painful (the horror stories are accurate) and dramatic, and scary, it is also one of the single most amazing things that will ever happen to you. No matter how hard your labor and delivery may be, if in the end it results in you holding a happy and healthy baby you can call it a success.
The thing about labor and delivery is that it doesn't last forever. After delivering a baby, that's when the real work starts.
Suddenly this beautiful little person is here in this world for you to take care of their every need. For the rest of your life, you'll be this person's mom.
You can bet that some of the challenges that lie ahead of you through this journey we call parenting will make delivering your baby feel like a walk in the park. But don't worry, you can handle it!
7 Easier: Putting Your Kids First
Before you become a parent everyone tells you to enjoy your freedom while you can. When you are pregnant you're encouraged to enjoy your quiet time while you can . Because, as they say, once you are a parent your kids will always come first. In other words, you'll need to get used to putting yourself last.
The thing is, putting your kids first is not necessarily a bad thing. For most parents, it's not even hard at all. In fact, it's natural for the needs and wants of the kids to come first. Think about a newborn baby, if she is hungry, you feed her. If you don't then she is going to scream and cry until her needs are met, right? If she is screaming and crying how can anyone else in the home be relaxed or happy? It's a trickle down effect. Happy kids, happy parents.
Before kids, the thought of giving up your weekly shopping trips to help pay for club soccer might have been depressing. But once you are a parent the decision is easy.
No shopping trip can replace the happiness that comes with making your kids smile. This is not only one of the easier parts of parenting, it's one of the best.
6 Easier: Making Mom Friends
Back in the day it used to be hard to make "mom friends". Unless you were fortunate enough to be pregnant at the same time as a friend or co-worker, you didn't have friends with kids the same age as yours until your kids were old enough for school. Then, if you were lucky, you could meet some moms through the PTO and hope they weren't super weird.
Today, thanks to social media, this is not the case at all. Women can meet other moms online that are due at the same time as they are or who have kids the same age.
There are mom groups EVERYWHERE and many of the cross country relationships formed in these groups are some of the strongest bonds these moms have ever had.
It's also easy to find parents local to you with kids the same age as yours using social media. By the time your child is old enough to go to preschool, chances are you'll already know several of the other moms and the names of their kids. Facebook is a beautiful thing.
Kids are the very best wingmen when it comes to making mom friends. Use them!
5 Easier: Saying No
When a new baby is born something magical happens. New parents look down at their beautiful new baby and instantly feel a love like they could have never imagined. All too often the term "wrapped around their finger" is used.
Yes, we as parents are often wrapped around our children's fingers. We look into their precious little faces and think "oh boy, we are in trouble". You think you'll never be able to tell them no. You'll have to give them everything they could ever want.
But despite the fact that we are putting our kids first, we do still have to say no sometimes. And believe it or not, it's easier that it looks. After all, there has to be some perks to being the boss.
We can't have everything we want, right? As parents, it is our job to teach our kids this lesson. If you buy them everything they ask for, let them do everything they want, let them rule the roost, what kind of future are you setting them up for? You owe it to them to say no sometimes. It is your job to say no sometimes.
Kids are resilient, they bounce back and forget quickly. So don't worry, they'll be asking for the same thing again in no time.
4 Easier: Making It Work
Parenting is full of challenges. Nobody has ever said parenting was easy. In fact, it is probably one of the hardest jobs you'll ever have. But you always find a way to make it work.
Like Forrest Gump's mom always said, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get." And when you have kids to take care of, the unknown can be even scarier.
But the survival instinct kicks in even harder when you are a parent. When it isn't just about you, but your kids too, you find a way to make things work. The motivation of keeping your family safe and happy can sometimes be all you need to get through tough times.
Parents will often find themselves overworked, underpaid, and spread to thin. It's an exhausting job that requires many hats.
But by some miracle, you make it work, because you're awesome like that.
3 Easier: Missing Out
Going from a kid free life to a new parent is most likely the biggest life change most people will ever go through. Talk about culture shock.
Suddenly weekends are spent at home watching Baby Shark on YouTube instead of wine tasting and live music downtown. For many people, this sounds like a hard and depressing transition to make. Some people question whether or not they'd be ok with "missing out" on the things they used to enjoy.
Guess what. It's easy. Once you get a taste of staying in with your sweet little family where it's comfortable and quiet and you can wear leggings and a tshirt, you'll never want to go back.
There is something so freeing about letting go of FOMO (fear of missing out). You realize that going out is exhausting and that you will never miss being hungover on Sundays.
That's not to say you have to totally give up everything you enjoyed before kids. Chances are if you only get to go out once in a blue moon, you'll have an even better time than ever before.
2 Easier: Embracing The "Mom Look"
Some moms manage to grow and birth a baby, drop the weight, and maintain the same youthful look they had before kids. Some moms can rock long hair, full makeup, tight clothes, shoot some moms are even brave enough to wear white shirts. They keep their little sports car and somehow even manage to get their baby in and out of it without breaking a sweat. Good for these moms. Really, more power to you.
Then there are the rest of you who not only embrace the mom look, but you totally rock it.
Remember when you said you'd never have mom hair? So much for that. You quickly realize that if you're ever going to have time to do anything with your hair there is going to have to be a LOT less of it. So, you find yourself a cute little mom bob and you make it work.
Then there are the mom clothes. Leggings are life. You know this. And loose flowy dark colored tshirts are easy for nursing, hiding those last few pounds, and hiding whatever your baby just puked on you.
And the biggest one of all... the mom mobile. How many have said they'd never own a minivan and now can't imagine themselves driving anything else? Minivans are made for busy moms. They simply make life easier, that's all there is to it. So the sooner you embrace the van life, the easier your life will be.
1 Easier: Being A Good Parent
Before kids, everyone wonders what kind of parent they will be. Everyone hopes they will be a good parent and raise good people. But, what makes a good parent? What does it really take to be good at this gig anyway? How do you make sure your kid doesn't end up in the news for all the wrong reasons?
Believe it or not, being a good parent isn't as hard as it sounds.
Once you cover all those important things like food, water, and shelter, the only other thing your kids really need is you.
You were given your kids for a reason and nobody can love them and provide for them like you can. You are the one who will comfort them when they are afraid, wipe their tears when they are sad, celebrate them when they are up and pick them up when they are down. When they are in a crowded place, your face is the one that they will look for. You are all they need at the end of the day.
So relax, you've got this too. Being a good parent is actually sort of easy, all you have to do is be you and be there.