A lot of things come with the title “adult.” There’s the fun side — staying up as late as you’d like, sleeping all day, doing what you want, when you want, etc. And then there’s the more responsible, less fun side — paying bills, being on time, working, making good decisions, etc.
If you’re lucky, you spent several years of your pre-parent life building up your fiefdom of freedom and fun — where you had a Netflix account that didn’t have a suggestions logarithm thrown off by Daniel Tiger or Bubble Guppies; where you had a rhythm of life that allowed you to go to concerts or movies, or really anywhere outside of your house, whenever the heck you wanted without pre-planning and coordinating with sitters months in advance; and a life where you could make not-so-sound decisions without guilt or terrible implications — like spending way too much money on a fancy handbag you’ll use twice a year or having ice cream and wine for dinner.
For my husband and me, we reveled in our DINK lifestyle (double income no children). We naively thought, “Having a baby will change things, but raising a puppy changed things too. It couldn’t be all that different.” WRONG. Here are a handful of our adult freedoms and merriment that dramatically changed.
- Responding to emails (or using a computer in general). If I so much as crack open my computer within a mile radius of my daughter, she plunges into my lap, screaming “‘puter! puter!” while noodling away on the keyboard and smearing her sticky, greasy, boogery hands on the screen. My emails went from full thoughts and complete sentences, to curt, five-word messages because that’s all I can peck out before my computer is seized by my 2-year-old.
- Timeliness. Prior to motherhood, my punctuality was respectable. But now, my day is essentially set up in hemispheres: morning and afternoon. No longer can I commit to arriving at 10 a.m. — but if I show up within the “morning hemisphere,” things are running smoothly.
- Home decor. In my 20s, I swore I’d never be the parent who lets their kids’ toys commandeer their house. Clutter made me hyperventilate (and still does, but just not as bad). Last year, I relinquished my power, abandoning everything I stood for. As such, an IKEA pop-up circus tent became a fixture in our living room for more than six months.
- Dining out. In her early months of life, we carted our daughter all over town to our favorite restaurants. We refused to lose that part of ourselves — going out for brunch on the weekends. It was around month five of our daughter’s life that everything went to hell. She was becoming more mobile and more opinionated. Our food had just arrived and our daughter, while sitting on my husband’s lap, swung her foot around and it landed right in the middle of his waffle. That was the end of it. Now, we order a lot of takeout.
- Sleep. What a joke. Your sleep won’t just be affected, it will be accosted. Espresso will course through your veins, and you’ll likely be grumpier than you ever thought possible. Pro tip: invest in good concealer for the darkness that will encircle your eyes.
- Time to yourself. Just like aforementioned item (“sleep”), time alone is a flipping laughable. As my husband and I have found, time becomes a means of currency. For example: I might get a couple hours to go to the grocery store and meet a friend for coffee in exchange for him going on a two-hour bike ride. Healthy or not, it’s this kind reciprocity that helps us each keep our sanity.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a list of clever life hacks that will solve all these problems. But I do have some very practical advice: just get over it. The sooner you accept that your life will change, the better off you’ll be. And now that support groups are available — they’re called “friends.”