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So, You Want to Have Kids: A One-Sided Story of Preparing for Parenthood

Before you wander into lifelong parenthoodery, here are some things to consider (that maybe you’ve been told, maybe you haven’t):


There’s no such thing as being “ready”

You can’t be ready for something you can’t know. There is no ready. There is only the decision to have a child or not to have a child. That’s all the preparation you can possibly possess.

Having a pet is as much preparation for a child as watching the moon landing prepares you to be an astronaut

So don’t say it, don’t believe it, and punch anyone that does (I’m kidding, of course, don’t punch anyone, why would you take that seriously?!? We also happen to currently have 3 dogs and 2 cats – not counting the 8 animals that have died during our 20-year marriage; so I do know what it’s like to own pets before and after kids, but again these are just my opinions. You are welcome to disagree and write your own list on why owning a pet is exactly like having a child).

For fathers, the pregnancy phase doesn’t have the same hormonal, physical, or psychological effects

You will see your significant other get larger, frequently sleep, get sick, and eventually become virtually immobile, but it’s mostly just waiting and watching. It’s normal not to feel excited about having a baby. Just don’t say that out loud.

For mothers, tell your significant other what you need them to do – because we have no idea what we’re doing

Foot massages, back massages, an ear to listen, or going on late night errands to get pickles or BBQ ribs – tell us what you need and want. It’s literally the only way we can be of use. You are having a unique experience we can’t understand. We won’t have the same bonding you will have, so make us feel useful by allowing us to help you in any way we can.

You will never be so excited and exhausted in your entire life as the day your child is born

After you meet your baby and everything gets cleaned up, (because Jesus Lord it’s a mess of sights, sounds, and smells you can’t fathom), you will settle into a nonstop barrage of tests, temperature taking, nursing, paperwork, burping, questions, diaper checking, visitors, crying, and awkward moments of adjusting to this new tiny being that is now yours to raise. You won’t sleep for more than two hours during your entire hospital stay.

Newborns are boring

Don’t get me wrong, they’re cute, but boring. I’m afraid you may think I mean that boring is bad. It’s not. Boring is perfect. Newborns just sleep, (sporadically and horribly), cry, and eat when they aren’t sleeping, and poop in between. Imagine if they could walk, talk, and eat cheeseburgers right when they were born? Boring is what you want.

Once your newborn is “sleep trained,” you won’t be

Your newborn will wake up every two hours for six months. Then move on to waking up every 6 hours for the next 6 months. By the time they are sleeping through the night, they’ll have trained you to not be able to sleep for more than four hours at a time.

Parenting doesn’t happen all at once

Luckily for you, newborns have very simple needs. They aren’t born talking, walking, and challenging your very existence at every moment. It’s hard to screw anything up first few months. Other than them almost rolling off the changing table. Not that that’s ever happened to us.

Once they crawl you will wish they would stop

You won’t be able to place them down and know they’ll stay put. And after crawling is walking, followed by running, mixed with lots of falling. So much falling.

You will get poop on you

No matter how careful you are, you will get poop on you. It’s not like the poop of a 63-year-old man. But it’s still poop. In fact, at some point, you will clean poop out of a bathtub. It’s far more difficult than you’d think.

It will take an extra 45 minutes to get out the door, no matter where you’re going or how long you plan to be gone

Diapers, bottles, clothes, blankets, wipes, butt cream, formula, pacifiers, toys, that one special stuffed animal, portable playpens (which are highly overrated), and the thing you always forget and will have to go back to get. If you have more than one child, you will have to get ready 24 hours in advance.

Get comfortable with repetition. Get comfortable with repetition. Get comfortable with repetition.

You will read the same books over and over (and you will memorize them, I still know “Goodnight Moon” by heart, 14 years later), watch the same shows over and over, listen to the same music over and over, play the same games over and over. So choose your books, shows, music, and games carefully.

Finding a babysitter is tantamount to buying a house

You’re competing with hundreds of other parents who are also trying to find that perfect babysitter, and you will have to pay for it. But it’s worth it. It’s your damn child. Don’t be cheap. And if you’re lucky enough to have family watch your child, please understand not all of us are so lucky, so please don’t act so shocked if we can’t go somewhere without at least four weeks notice.

Strangers will give you unsolicited advice

This advice will be completely comprised of horror stories that will scare you into staying indoors forever. It will always be dispensed while you wait in line for something – at the grocery store, DMV, or Chipotle. Yes, I’m well aware of the irony in that statement.

Other parents will make you feel as if you’re doing everything wrong

Other people aren’t you and their kids aren’t your kids. No one gets it all right, and no one gets it all wrong. Parents who share (on Facebook) that their kids are amazing, awesome, perfect, and every moment is a blessing, are lying (by omission) to make themselves feel better. Don’t take it personally.

The best game you can ever play is “Sleeping Giant”

Let me explain. When your child is young you will do lots of playing that involves dolls, dressing up, and pretending. You will eventually get very tired of it. So I suggest you play what I call “Sleeping Giant”, where you lie down, pretend to sleep, and your child will attempt to sneak up on you without you waking up. All you have to do it snore, pretend to wake up, lunge forward to grab them (wherein they scream and run away), and go back to sleeping. You’re welcome.

Every six months your child will switch from easy, fun, and awesome to a complete asshole

This cycle continues for years and years and years. At present my oldest child is 16, and it’s still true.

Your child will hate you

It’s fine. They will curse you under their breath. They will call you names. They will wish you were dead. You’ll be tempted to take it personally. Don’t. If they hate you, you’re doing something right. Your goal isn’t to do things so your child likes you. Your goal should be to create a person who has the ability to make wise decisions, the confidence to stand for their convictions, and the humility to admit their mistakes (and many other things, but I’m not writing a book here).

If you thought you were done with school, think again

You will have to help your child with homework and you will have forgotten everything you ever learned. Also, you will be tempted to “help” your kids with their projects – and by “help” I mean “do” – please don’t, despite the fact that most parents do and lie about it. (You’ll see a perfectly constructed solar system that you’re supposed to believe was done by a kindergartener. The parent won’t shut up about how amazed they are at their kid’s talent: “No I didn’t help him, he’s just so gifted.” But you’ll know, especially because that same kid just ate a booger).

Don’t succumb to the pressure of extra-curricular activities

As your child gets older, the world of after school activities will overcome your life. While it’s important to have your child do and learn things outside of school, don’t become so obsessed with having them participate in these that you’re forcing them into a world of responsibilities. They’re a child. Think of all the things you have to do as an adult, why does a child have to the same pressures and stresses as you? Let them be a kid.

Your kids will push you to the limit of your self-control and patience

Often you will fail, and you will feel like the worst human being alive. It happens to all of us throughout our kids’ lives, from two to 18 years old. Be quick to apologize (not just to your child, but yourself as well).

Discipline isn’t as scary as it sounds

Let’s be clear: my wife and I are not experts on disciplining our children, but I think we’ve learned a few things. Be consistent, follow through, say “no” (and mean it), be an adult (don’t let your emotions guide your actions), let the punishment fit the crime, offer occasional mercy, say you’re sorry (because you will fail at all the above).

There will be a last time you pick your child up

I heard this said once, and it affected me powerfully. Don’t merely be present with your kids, don’t just “cherish” it (whatever that really means), actively observe and participate because at some point it’ll be the last time they crawl, the last time you give them a bath, the last time they hold your hand.

There is no salary, no promotions, no vacation days, no evaluations. Being a parent is not about you at all

If you have the slightest hesitation about the long sacrifice that is parenthood, please don’t have a child. Having a child is not a requirement. It might seem like there isn’t anything positive about parenthood, but that’s because you need to adjust your expectations about parenthood.

If you want to feel good about yourself, volunteer your time helping others. Parenthood isn’t about making yourself feel good. Parenthood is not about your child becoming your identity. Parenthood is about creating a nurturing environment for your child so that they will transform into a functional adult who, (you hope) will make the world a better place. If you do this, there will come a day when your child becomes your friend.

This piece was originally published on Medium.

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Ah, back to school time. The excitement of a new year for our kids and the impossibly busy schedule for their mamas. Anyone else get to the end of the day and think, "What did I even DOOO today, and why am I so exhausted?" 🙋

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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A new school year is looming and while a lot of parents are looking forward to seeing their kids take the next steps in their education, many of us are not looking forward to getting everyone back into a weekday morning routine.

Mornings can be tough for kids and their mamas. One of our favorite celebrity mamas, Kristen Bell, does not deny that mornings with her daughters, 5-year-old Lincoln and 3-year-old Delta, aren't easy at all.

"It's miserable," Bell recently told POPSUGAR. "It's awful no matter who's doing what. And I'll tell you right now, the 3- and 5-year-old aren't doing jack."

Anyone who has ever tried to wrangle a preschooler out of their pajamas, to the breakfast table, then into their school clothes and backpack at seven o'clock in the morning knows exactly what Bell is talking about. She says some days are better than others, but it's hard to know what level of kid-induced chaos you're gonna wake up to on a weekday.

"It depends on their emotional stability, it depends on their attitude toward each other, toward life," Bell told POPSUGAR. "It depends on their developmental stage."

Luckily, Bell has got some backup. She's been open about how she and her husband, Dax Shepard, practice a tag team approach to parenting, and sometimes, Bell gets a chance to tap out of the morning routine. Unfortunately, Shepherd's later schedule means it doesn't happen as often as she would necessarily like.

"I don't want to say that I do more mornings than he does, but if you were to check the records, that's probably what you'd find," she told POPSUGAR.

If, like Bell, you're really not feeling mornings with the kids, there are a few things you can try to make things a little easier on yourself, mama.

1. Change the conversation

Instead of saying "hurry up" or "get in the car, right now,"try to mix up your vocabulary a bit.

If there's a need for speed, remind the kids that it's time for "fast feet" or that you're racing to the car.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, you might consider sharing that with your kids. Let them know that mama's got a lot to do this morning and that it would be a huge help if they could make sure their water bottle is in their backpack.

2. Make breakfast ahead of time

If cereal isn't your jam or your kids need something hotter, and more substantial in the morning, cooking up breakfast can be a major hurdle on hectic mornings.

Check out these Pinterest perfect make-ahead morning meals, like breakfast enchiladas or egg muffins, and make mornings a bit easier on yourself, mama.

3. Bring some Montessori into your mornings

Help your kids take control of their AM destiny by bringing some limited choices (like clothing) into the morning routine and allowing for natural consequences (like having to settle for an apple in the van because they missed breakfast) but also allowing for fun with mom.

"Try doing something simple, with clear boundaries, such as reading two books before it's time to start the morning routine. If they're ready early, you can spend more time together, which is also a great natural incentive," writes Montessori expert Christina Clemer.

Here's to a less stressful AM routine for Kristen Bell and the rest of us mamas. Just because it feels miserable today doesn't mean it will be tomorrow. There is hope, Kristen!

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It was a year ago when I was pregnant, parenting a highly-spirited preschooler and also working a full-time job while trying to maintain a part-time side business when I got to the point of I have had enough.

I can't remember exactly what the trigger was, but like most times, it wasn't just one thing but a build-up over time that culminates in a massive meltdown.

You see, I was not getting much appreciation or validation for all of my contributions. This was a time when my partner, too, was working full-time and in graduate school two evenings a week. It was stressful for everyone, but, as the wife and mother, I carried the family through it by tending to the little details: the pick-up and drop-offs, the shopping, the cooking, all the minutiae of everyday life.

So, after perseverating on my laundry list of seen and unseen responsibilities, I decided to sit down with pen and paper and make a "day in the life" list from wake-up to bedtime that showed my partner exactly what my day entailed—a day that supported two other people in the house and one in the oven.

Even I was surprised to see all of the things listed out in 15-minute increments. On paper, it actually looked even worse than it felt. I thought to myself about how much physical, mental and emotional energy I expend in this hectic season of our lives. And I didn't regret it for a minute.

However, back to my original complaint…I still wanted to be validated for it. I needed to be seen for both the implicit and explicit tasks and expectations in my day-to-day.

So I handed my list over to my husband, expecting him to be awakened to the fact I was indeed working in overdrive and for him to be grateful for all the ways that I take so many burdens off of him so that he can be successful in school and his career.

Instead of that, his response almost put me into a state of shock. He read over the list and then said, "I know. You are Superwoman."

His words, like kryptonite, left me speechless. Part of me knew that his intent was for this to be a compliment, but it felt so invalidating. It completely missed the mark, and instead of leaving me feeling appreciated, I felt less understood.

Superheroes have innate superpowers that I imagine they use with ease. In fact, they are expected to use their powers and perhaps that is their sole purpose. No one ever looks to a superhero and asks, "Do you need a break?" And as a feminist, I sure as heck believe women are strong and powerful. But the idea of being labeled a "superwoman" did not feel empowering.

I already know I am efficient, capable, strong and fierce. But, I am also fatigued, sometimes overworked and underappreciated, and worst of all expected to be the one that keeps it together for everyone else.

What I learned about through my research of who Superwoman really is was this: her powers always wear off by the end of the story. Turns out these so-called "superpowers" really are temporary. That I can relate to.

I am only human and there are days and weeks where I feel on top of the world, days where I can manage it all with ease. I can be up all night nursing a baby, take both kids to school, and show up on time for a 9:00 am meeting with a French pastry I baked from scratch. I can push through the exhaustion and demands every day…until I can't.

And it's not just my spouse who uses this label. I have well-meaning girlfriends who have also tossed the term out there as if it was meant to be a feather in my cap.

When things get tough, I appreciate the texts of support my girlfriends send me. Even when they are far away, it's nice to know someone cares when everyone in your house has the stomach flu while your partner is out of the country. It's comforting to be able to share the ups and downs of trying to balance a career with a growing family.

But when the text comes in and says something like, "I don't know how you do all that. You are a supermom!" I feel like there should be an auto-reply that says, "Connection lost."

The thing is, I don't want to be elevated to superhero status for living my life. It is not heroic and it's probably not too far off from what every other devoted partner and mother provides their family. But, this is what I think we need, what we are starving for. We need someone to say, "How are you doing?" or, "What have you done lately to care for yourself?" or, "Thank you for all that you do and who you are."

Those are the kinds of words that let me know I am seen and make me feel validated when I am working the hardest. They let me know that the people I love the most see me, and not a cape.

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