The moment you become a parent all your priorities change. I know, captain obvious over here, right? But seriously, you don’t really realize how much everything in your life will revolve around your little one. If you used to have a social life, you won’t anymore. If you used to have free time, kiss it goodbye. If you used to have time to sit around and do nothing, consider yourself lucky cuz you’ll never see that again. At least not for the next 18 years.
It is easier to some degree when you little ones are newborns because they do sleep a lot. More often than not really. And they tend to be able to sleep through just about anything. Take full advantage of that, because once they become mobile you’re really in trouble…However, while it is easier to travel with then when they are younger, you will still struggle with it. For instance, when they are really tiny you spend 75% of your time feeding them, and if you are breastfeeding and have any issue with whipping out your boob in public (cover or not) you will probably try and schedule your day so that you are not out of the house for more than 1 hour at a time. Add in being an overwhelmed new mama and you probably won’t be able to handle leaving the house with more than one errand in mind without totally breaking down into a sobbing mess. To the outside world it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to leave the house with an infant. But let me tell you right now, it takes as much time to get out the door as it does to run whatever errand you have planned. So one errand can be a half-day marathon. By the time you get the little one changed, dressed, fed, and yourself ready to go, it’s time to feed them again and you’re lucky if you get out the door anywhere near the time you planned.
Once they stop needing to eat every hour, and once you get a system down for leaving the house, it does get a bit easier. And they will still sleep just about anywhere. We took J to a bar (real bar, not like in a restaurant) when he was about 3 months old. He slept through most of it. Amazing. Although we did feel like we were “those parents” who brought their newborn to a bar…
Once they get mobile though it’s a whole ‘nother ball game. Yes, they can entertain themselves for a bit longer in the car seat while you drive (sometimes), and now you can take them out of the car seat instead of carrying that extra 10 lbs wherever you go, but it takes 2 times as much work and as much muscle to take them anywhere. Chances are they won’t sit in the high chair at the restaurant, or sit in the seat of the grocery cart for more than a few minutes…so get used to carrying them e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. Oh, and they get vocal too. Yup, you will be that parent who’s kid is screaming at the top of their lungs in the middle of the store. The first time it happens you’ll totally lose your cool too. Get used to it. It happens to the best of us.
All that being said, what does happen to your social life? Remember when you used to go out to dinner or catch a movie with friends on the weekends? Well, you may be lucky enough to still get a chance to do that…when you can find a sitter, or as long as the kiddo isn’t sick, or if your friends are willing to catch the matinee so that you can be home by 7pm for bedtime. If you have really great friends, they’ll totally be willing to take whatever time you have available. You’ll also have some friends that will drop off the face of the planet since you “don’t have time for them anymore”. Sorry, I have more important things to focus on now days…
It’s not that parents don’t want time out with friends. We do. We like seeing our friends, we like going out with just adults sometimes. But other times we are perfectly content with staying home to feed out little ones dinner, give them a bath, put them in bed at 7pm and spend the next hour vegged on the couch until we pass out ourselves.
You’ll also find that it becomes harder to schedule time to see your friends who also have kids. Unless you share the exact same sleep, eat, play, poop schedule with your friends kiddos, you’ll be trying to figure out a time where all the kiddos will be awake at the same time. This tends to be even more difficult as the age groups vary. Nap times become the deciding factor in what your availability is. Sure, you can shift a nap back or skip one all together, but only if you’re really willing to deal with a totally out of control kid the rest of the day. You’d be amazed how missing one normally schedule nap will screw with everything from there on out. So us parents try to avoid that at all cost. Which unfortunately means that you’ll miss out on lots of play dates and birthday parties.
You’ll also find that it’s hard not to judge other parents. Or you friends. And other parents and your friends will judge you too. It’s hard not to be able to find the time for everyone and everything every time. You have to somehow learn to take advantage of the time that you do have with those people and that even though it’s few and far between now, it’s still valuable. Besides, the ones that stick around through all your scheduling conflicts are the ones worth keeping around anyway.