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11 Things I Miss About Life Before Children

W

hen you have children, your life changes in many, many different ways. Some of those changes are ones you can predict fairly easily (Lack of sleep being the main one, obviously…), but others are changes  that kind of sneak up on you and take you by surprise. 

I miss lazy Sunday mornings, breakfast in bed, and being able to go out for dinner without having to get the early bird special and rush home for bathtime, for instance: and all of these are things I knew would happen, and thought I was prepared for. I also miss some other, more random aspects of life BC (Before Children), though. Things like… 

red hair in the wind

Silence

God, I miss silence, Possibly even more than I miss sleep, actually. See, I’m an introvert: which means I’m happy to chat, but I also need a bit of quiet time (OK, a LOT of quiet time… ) or I start to feel like I’m going a bit crazy, really. 

Max, meanwhile, is a talker. He’s a really good talker for his age, actually – or so we’re told, anyway – and I’m pretty sure the reason for that is that he never shuts up. Like, EVER. Seriously, this kid even talks in his sleep: sometimes when we put him down for a nap he’ll just lie there, chatting away to himself about how he’s going to “hold” the wind turbine he can see from his window,  or the fact that sheep exist, or whatever, It’s cute, sure, but it’s also kind of hard to deal with when you hit that mid-afternoon slump, and you feel like you can’t even think straight any more because of all of the talking. 

I miss being able to think straight. I miss sitting in the passenger seat of the car, just looking out of the window and letting my mind drift, rather than having to constantly be all, “OH LOOK, A MOO COW! IS THAT A TRAIN? WOW, A RED CAR!”  (My current Most Hated thing about travelling by car? ‘The Bus Stop Game’, in which we must all excitedly point out every single bus stop we pass. I had NO IDEA how many bus stops there were until now. I could happily have lived without my new, encyclopedic knowledge of where they all are…)   I miss being able to just go about my business, without having to narrate all of my actions, in the third person. “Mummy’s just putting this mug in the dishwasher, now! Mummy’s switching the dishwasher on! Mummy’s just quietly losing her mind from the pressure to keep on talking all day long!” And so on and so forth.

Just to make matters worse, meanwhile, Terry is also a talker. I’m outnumbered, people: they have me surrounded. I might never get a moment of silence ever again. Hold me…

Eating dessert in restaurants

Or starters, Or drinking wine. Or coffee. Or doing anything other than just bolting down our meals as quickly as we possibly can, then paying up while apologising for being Those People who brought a toddler into a restaurant, what WERE they thinking? 

Honestly, I don’t even know what we were thinking, on any of the occasions when we’ve tried to take Max into a restaurant. Sometimes it’s unavoidable – like on our recent trip to Bulgaria, for instance, when it was either that or starve – but there have been other times when we’ve gone to restaurants on the mistaken assumption that it’ll be fun, and no, it is not. Not even a little bit, really: because not only is there no starter or dessert course any more, because we’re doing our best to get the hell out of Dodge, as quickly as possibly, there’s also no possibility of adult conversation either, as Max requires our undivided attention, 100% of the time. One day we will eat dessert again: just… probably not any time soon. On the subject of adult conversation, though, I also miss…

Having conversations that don’t get constantly  interrupted

Look, I might enjoy a bit of silence, but I don’t require it ALL the time, and sometimes – just sometimes – it would be nice to have a conversation that wasn’t interrupted every few seconds by someone wanting a snack, or wondering where the green ball is, you know? (It’s under the couch, btw. It’s ALWAYS under the couch…) I get interrupted so often now that I’ve pretty much forgotten how to finish my sentences, and just let them kind of …  Wait: what was I talking about? 

And in which you don’t have to think carefully before you speak

One of the consequences of Max being A Good Talker is that we now have to think really, really carefully about what we say to/in front of him. We learned this the hard way when we told him we “had to go to the bathroom” in order to persuade him to leave the hotel beach one day on holiday, and then had to walk the entire length of the resort with him shouting “WE’RE GOING TO THE BATHROOM! MUMMY AND DADDY HAVE DONE A POOP!” at everyone we met. He followed this up by loudly observing that, “THAT MAN’S GOT BIG NIPPLES,” when someone walked past in swimming trunks: which, OK, wasn’t something he’d actually heard from us, but, I dunno, maybe we could have handled his questions about what those pink things on daddy’s chest were differently? Or not? Me and Max at Wave Resort, Bulgaria

 

My normal speaking voice

I used to speak like a normal person, but now I speak like this! All perky and excited about nothing! With an exclamation point at the end of every sentence! And my voice all kind of high and squeaky! I am genuinely worried that my voice will just stay like this, even when Max is older, and we don’t need to talk like children’s TV presenters all the time! Mummy wouldn’t like that, would she?! Nooooo! That would make mummy saaaaad! 

Leaving the house without feeling like a pack mule

I have a whole collection of tiny little cross-body bags that are just big enough to hold my sunglasses, wallet and phone. I don’t use those bags much any more: because every time I leave the house I have to more or less take the contents of said house with me. Nappies. Wipes. Drinks. Snacks. Toys. Changes of clothes. The kitchen sink. You name it, it’s probably either in my changing bag, or stuffed into the storage section at the bottom of the pushchair: and yet somehow, every single time I go out, I STILL manage to forget something.  HOW?

Sitting on the couch

We do still sit on the couch, but only when Max is in bed, and then it feels a bit weird and decadent, really, like when you’re a kid, and your dad lets you sit in the front seat of the car as a treat. When Max is awake, though, I’m normally crawling around on the floor or lying on the rug, playing his current favourite game, “Mummy Fall Down”. (Complicated rules, but the gist of it is that I “fall down” and then he jumps on me. Fun game. Not.) I have become very familiar with what my house looks like from floor level over the past few months, and, just  to look on the bright side, if it wasn’t for “Mummy Fall Down”, I’d possibly never have realised that the drink  Max sent flying 5 months ago was still still stuck to the underside of the coffee table. Silver linings, people, silver linings…
UK parenting blog

Reading 

I started reading a new book on the flight back from Florida, in May. I finally finished it on our last night in Bulgaria, a mere four months later: and that was only because I forced myself to stay up late just to finish the freaking thing*. For context, pre-parenthood, I would regularly get through at least one book a week. I used to see people doing those ’52 books in a year’ challenges, and think, “Pshaw! That’s not a challenge: that’s just life!” Now, though, I suspect I’ll be lucky if I get to read 52 books in the rest of my life. I’ll be the elderly lady at parties 30 years from now going around saying to people, “Hey, did you hear there’s a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale? I can’t wait to read it!”

(It wasn’t even a particularly good book, to be honest, it’s just that, well,  there was a mysterious old house, and of course, it had a secret, and even although I was pretty sure I’d guessed what the secret was – and, indeed, I HAD – I just had to be sure. I started another book right after that, but I guess I’ll have to wait until we book another holiday to find out what kind of secret the mysterious old house in that one is harbouring…)

Going out in the evenings 

I’m not talking about going to clubs, or bars, or whatever else it is that people generally do outside their houses in the evenings, because, let’s face it, I didn’t really do those things BEFORE I had Max, so it’s not like I’m going to miss them. It would be nice, though, to be able to go somewhere and not have to be home by 6:30pm to start the bedtime routine. I mean, a few weeks ago we were leaving my parents’ house after a visit, and Terry commented on the fact that it was still light outside. “It’s 4pm, Terry,” I pointed out. “What did you expect?”  The thing is, though, when you’ve been up since the butt-crack of dawn, you kind of expect the day to be over by 4 o’clock, don’t you? But it’s not: and that realisation can be a cruel one, some days…

Eating without sharing

Yeah, I know, it’s mean and horrible of me, but, much like the great Joey Tribbiani from Friends, Amber does not share. Or, at least, not willingly, anyway: these days, of course, I have to share pretty much everything with Max, because it doesn’t matter what I’m eating, he will want it. Even if he’s eating exactly the same thing at the time, he will literally put down his food in order to get to mine. So, these days, Amber shares. And speaks about herself in the 3rd person, apparently?

Weekends and holidays 

They still exist, obviously – they just no longer have any meaning for you now that you have kids, and are getting up at 6am, regardless of whether it’s a Sunday or a Monday, a bank holiday or a random Thursday in February. You will go through the same routine, in the same way, no matter where you are or what else you have to do. Other people will talk gleefully about their plans for the weekend, and you’ll just laugh hollowly, knowing that YOUR plans for the weekend involve exactly the same things as your plans for the rest of the week/month/year/your life. On the plus side, at least you won’t ever wake up with a hangover the morning after a bank holiday, because you’ll have gone to bed at 9pm, so you can get up at the usual ungodly hour of the morning. You have parenthood to thank for that: and, of course, for all of the other weird and occasionally wonderful ways in which your life changes when you have kids. 

What do you miss? 

11 things you might miss about your old life when you have children

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25 Comments
  • Steph
    September 23, 2019

    I’m only 4 weeks in so have all this to look forward to! Right now I miss the obvious things like sleep and being able to accomplish any kind of household chore, but the big ones for me are eating a meal at the same time as Dan (because little man inevitably decides he wants feeding the moment my food is ready) sitting in the front seat of the car and catching up with Dan about the day, and most importantly, feeling as though my body actually belongs to me and not this tiny dictator living in my house! Parenthood is awesome, but no matter how much you think you understand that life will change, you really don’t do you??

    • Amber
      September 23, 2019

      Oh, I remember the days of eating (and sleeping, for that matter) in shifts! We always did our best to time meals for when Max was sleeping, but no matter when we tried to eat, THAT would be the exact moment he would wake up – it was like he KNEW.

  • Frida
    September 23, 2019

    That was so funny and true 😀 I can totally relate with you!!
    About silence… I have. a talker, too. And his daddy is a talker as well, of course. Me, I like silence. Which results in big headaches everyday… and it doesn’t get any better, the more they grow, the more they talk! At least is cute and funny to hear, or I would go mad. As for pointing out random stuff around (with exclamation points :D) and all the new things I now know about sea animals, mammals, and especially dinosaurs… I really love that!
    Reading a book? I have a pile by my bed side, and never get a chance to actually read since he’s born. I actually sort of stopped to watch tv serials as well, as at bedtime I’m so tired I fall asleep in no time. And an entire movie? Only if I get a chance to actually get out and go watching at the theatre (while my kid is sleeping at grandma’s). But then I get back home soooooo tired I promise I won’t do it again for long time 😀

    • Amber
      September 23, 2019

      Haha, yup, me too – I used to be a total night owl, but now I’m lucky if I can stay awake through one episode of something!

      • Frida
        September 25, 2019

        Exactly. Sometimes I force myself to stay up a bit more, after I put him to bed.. but 2 out of 3 times I fall asleep putting him to sleep (now HE is a night owl! 😀 ), when I successfully stay up… I miserably fall asleep in front of the tv or at the computer… there’s no way! 🙁

  • Jennifer
    September 23, 2019

    My kids are older now so the things I miss are different than they were when they were Max’s age. I miss quiet evenings with children in bed and glorious silence all around me. Last night I went up to bed and my teenage son was still sitting on the couch. Seriously, shouldn’t all children who still live at home, no matter what their age, be required to go to bed at 7:30 just so their parents can have a bit of peace and quiet?! I’m joking (kind of).

    • Amber
      September 23, 2019

      It should be law that they’re all in bed by at least 7pm 😉

    • Lila Athanaselis
      September 24, 2019

      I remember that!

      My three children are adults now, but I do remember when they used to go to bed at a certain time and then they suddenly got older and were still in the room with us and we couldn’t do our own things! and I remember the realisation that this is going to be for the rest of my life
      And they would never have an early bedtime again to do our own thing!
      but now they’re hardly ever there, and I wish it was like what it was like when they were young again 😬😢

      • Amber
        September 25, 2019

        I’m definitely not looking forward to when the early bedtimes stop! Having said that, I didn’t really sit in the same room as my parents when I was that age – I was always off doing my own thing, so maybe there’s still hope!

  • Maria
    September 23, 2019

    I don’t have kids but I definitely can understand some of these points: the never having a moment of silence, for example… I live in a super old condo with walls as thin as paper, and in the apartment above mine live 3 little kids. When they’re not at school, there is literally not one moment of peace: they’re always running around, throwing themselves on the ground, falling, crying, screaming, throwing themselves from the couch/table/whatever it is, moving furniture around, making toys fall on the floor, throwing themselves on their knees, thumping around like rabbits, howling to the moon (ok not the last one, but a werewolf’d probably be less noisy)… I really don’t know anymore, there is a lot of throwing involved though, from what I can discern (sometimes I wonder if their kneecaps are ok though, their falling routine sounds tough). There are times when it just gets so exhausting, I can’t even start to think what it’s like having to parent 3 kids or just one, having to entertain them all the time or reprimand them so they don’t kill themselves in their playing routine… So all the kudos to parents for the job they do everyday!

    • Amber
      September 23, 2019

      Oh yeah, everything you’ve listed here sounds exactly like a typical day for us with Max – I’m so glad we don’t have neighbours in the same building: the guilt would kill me!

  • Dominika
    September 23, 2019

    It might take another 20 years (I’m sorry, I know it feels like a lifetime away now) but you’ll be able to enjoy all those things again for sure. I’m on my 30s now and I enjoy nothing more than drinking wine with my mum until the early hours of the morning or buying her books to make sure she takes some time out from her daily routine to daydream. She can now pretty much do all the things she enjoyed before she had me (well most of the things) and I’m sure she appreciates them so much more now too 🙂

  • Liz
    September 23, 2019

    12 years in, three kids and youngest is only 2. Managed to have a toddler and a teenager at the same time (bad planning!). It changes all the time. I also miss silence. I get endless questions: why are planets round? Why is the sky blue? Where does the water go when the tide goes out? Google is my friend! Restaurants definitely get easier again. Although a lot more expensive- the 12 year old is growing like a weed and putting away a lot of food. Lie ins, I remember those. I have been known to bribe the eldest to mind the youngest so I can have an extra half hour… Kids bring enormous joy and laughter into my life and I wouldn’t go back, but they wear me out.

    • Amber
      September 23, 2019

      I remember when our nephew went through the ‘questions’ stage – we have that one still to look forward to!

  • Tamie
    September 23, 2019

    Personal space!!! They just kill me – they are always on top of me or touching me or wanting to be on top of me or touching me!!

    • Amber
      September 23, 2019

      I heard someone describe themselves as being “all touched out” in reference to this very thing, the other day: I so relate!

  • Myra
    September 24, 2019

    This post made me laugh out loud. Our son also demanded 100% attention in restaurants in fact 200% as that meant both mum and dad had to be alert. So when our daughter came along there wasn’t much left for her UNTIL having high tea in Edinburgh one afternoon a waitress approached and asked us to pay attention to her. OOPS! She had both hands in her bowl on the high chair and was squishing the food, then throwing it over her shoulders. Luckily her little arms couldn’t reach other diners, but it was a close one. After that we always had to go to restaurants twos (parents) so there was 100% attention on each child, AND you don’t want to hear the blueberry story.

    • Amber
      September 25, 2019

      I definitely think we need to hear the blueberry story 😉

  • Mana
    September 24, 2019

    My sons 13 now, so there’s not much I miss anymore, except leaving the house without having to arrange for someone for him to stay with. He has ADHD so unlike most kids his age I cannot trust he will make good choices and remember to not open the door to strange people and that if he gets scared he is to call the neighbor who will come get him.
    I also very much miss not dealing with schools. I hate it. We have had to move him schools because despite having all the proper paperwork for the accommodations his disorder requires they still treated him as though he were just a BAD kid.

    The new school is better, but now it’s middle
    School and apparently the guys are just as backwardly cruel as the girls I dealt with in school. And “zero tolerance bullying” does not work. These kids need courses on mental health and coping skills for bullying, it’s human nature (sadly) that some people are just cruel for cruelty’s sake and others because they’ve been damaged, so they hurt others. Teach them to cope. (I teach my son at home to cope, but if you’re going to force me to send him to a school with other children you should have to teach them to cope as well)

    • Amber
      September 25, 2019

      Oh Mana, that all sounds so tough 🙁 I can’t even imagine how it must feel when your child is being bullied: it must be so incredibly hard to deal with

  • Brenda
    September 24, 2019

    Oh yes, all this… especially the silence. Oh, how I missed the silence. And yes, personal space as one commenter below said. I truly felt like a human jungle gym. Last year, my daughter went away to University so I was left with one kid and boy, did it ever get quiet. Then she came home in April and it was noisy from then to September again when she went back to University. Now it’s quiet again. While I loved having her home, she just brings an energy with her (think Tasmanian Devil)…

    • Amber
      September 25, 2019

      ‘Human jungle gym,’ is a good way to describe it!

  • Michelle
    September 25, 2019

    Oh, I was SO glad when I didn’t have to carry half the house around with me anymore. Because you’re right – you always forget something (including sometimes the entire bag that has half the house packed in it). And I really did miss being alone in silence. (I still do. My getaway every year is a weekend silent retreat on my own – it is heavenly).

    I also miss not having to spend my entire day frantically checking my watch to see how much time I have left to get things done that I need to do before I have to pick her up at school. It’s so stressful!!

    • Amber
      September 25, 2019

      I’m *dreading* that stage! I keep hearing horror stories about the school run and how stressful it is, and they fill me with so much fear!

  • dubliner in deutschland
    September 25, 2019

    I can relate to all of this! From your list, I think I miss reading the most. Just having the time to get completely and utterly lost in a good book. These days it’s so rare to have a moment and when I do there are always a million other things to do (though I often end up procrastinating and staring at my phone and then the time window has passed.

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