We’d like to start with a disclaimer; our children are the best thing to ever happen to us, we are blessed beyond comprehension, we love them so much it literally hurts, and we wouldn’t change them or any of this parenting lark for the world.
That being said, there are a few things that have come with the whole becoming-a-parentthing that have caught us somewhat unawares. Some of our basic human rights—like enjoying a hot beverage, or washing ourselves on a daily basis—seem to have been stripped away overnight. Who would have thought? Not us, that’s for sure.
We asked a bunch of mums from all walks of life, including our trusty friends over on the Mother & Baby Facebook #mumtribe, what sacrifices—big or small—they’ve had to make since becoming a parent that no one warned them about.
We collected the top 30 most common responses below, and don’t know whether to laugh or cry (we’ve mainly been laughing) because these answers are STRAIGHT FACTS.
30 sacrifices we make as parents
Okay, obviously we eat, but it’s less sitting down at meal time with a knife and fork and enjoying a whole meal in peace, and more neglecting our plate till it’s cold, shoving its contents in with one hand—sans cutlery of course—with a moaning baby on our hip. Gourmet? More like kiddie leftovers, eh?
“Having a hot meal becomes a luxury,” one mum tells us. “If lucky, I get a warm meal, one-handed, and feel blessed if I get to eat a decent meal once a day.”
2) Having breakfast
Mornings are notoriously the craziest time in a home with small kids. Can anyone really sit and enjoy, or even manage to consume breakfast when they have to prepare the child’s brekkie, feed it to them, clean them, and get them ready for the rest of the day?
We can relate with one mum who explains, “I prioritise the kids eating and getting ready so inevitably my breakfast ends up waiting until all other tasks, like drop offs, are completed,” and another who explains, “I miss being able to eat breakfast one bite after another, instead of having to stop several times to do other kid-related things, i.e. stop them from throwing their food around/crying/fighting.”
3) Hot beverages
One of the most common issues brought up was being able to drink a whole cup of tea or coffee. Between being so occupied with the kids that we forget it even exists, to trying to keep it out of harm’s way so no one burns themselves or ruins the carpets, our hot-beverage-enjoying days seem to have gone bye-byes.
“I miss hot cups of tea,” says one mother, “and I am constantly forgetting that I’ve made one because I’ve left it in the kitchen so the kids don’t reach for it, and then by the time I remember it, it’s gone stone cold.”
It goes without saying that a full night of uninterrupted sleep with a baby is not going to happen, but a recent report said that parents can expect sleep exhaustion for up to six years after their child is born. Night feeds, teething, sleep regression and bad dreams are just a few of the reasons our little ones keep us up at night.
To people who advise napping when the baby sleeps; thanks for your wise words but it’s not always (read: never) possible, what with that being the only time we can do literally anything else. Kindly refrain from sharing that little nugget of advice. Thanks, mums everywhere. As for lie-ins? To quote one of the most popular videos in recent years, “What are those???”
By the time babies or toddlers are old enough to be left alone unattended, even if it’s just for a few minutes, they are not babies and toddlers anymore. That means at least three to four years—per child —that, if a parent is alone at home with the kid(s), showering becomes a feat. Many parents report that daily showers have swiftly been thrown out of the window with the arrival of their children.
Some of the mums shared that they miss “being able to have a bath or shower without someone barging in,” “washing my hair more than once a week—gross, I know,” and “a long, hot soak in a bath with a large gin.”
6) Using the toilet alone
Showers aren’t the only inopportune time that you’ll more than likely have an audience. This also applies to using the loo. “[I miss] going to the toilet in peace,” says one desperate mum. “If it’s not the youngest coming in, the older ones suddenly want to ask a question. If by some miracle the kids are distracted, they end up fighting 30 seconds after, and I end up yelling down the stairs. It’s actually easier to have them follow me to the bathroom.”
Another mum says, “My potty-training toddler is enthralled with the whole using-the-toilet procedure and insists on sitting on my lap while I ‘go’—when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, so I don’t have time to argue with her at that particular moment. Once I’m done, she
7) Clean clothes
If you do perchance manage to put on some clean, dry clothes, it’s pretty certain that they won’t stay that way for long if you have a kid. “No one warned me that motherhood meant never again wearing a dry item of clothing,” explains a fellow mum. “Whether from lactating, baby dribble, vomit, food or drink spilled on me, and, yes, even pee and poop, my clothes are always wet or sticky.”
Ah, the days where we could just carelessly throw our keys, make up, phone, and purse in our favourite designer tote, cross-body, or clutch—coordinated to our chic outfit, of course—whenever we went out. Now, it’s a loaded baby changing bag or rucksack filled to the brim with baby essentials. Hey, look on the bright side; at least it matches the tracksuit bottoms, trainers and oversized parka we’re donning on the regs.
9) A tidy house
Where should we start with this? Baby stuff everywhere, food and bogies in every crevice and on every wall, drawn-on furniture, crumbs in places you didn’t even know existed, toys in all the places they’re not supposed to be like a conveniently placed roller skate at the top of the stairs or a piece of Lego in your slipper.
We try our best, we really do, but no sooner have we cleared everything away, we only need to turn our backs for a second, and… “WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED IN HERE??”
The moment you get on the phone to sort out a discrepancy with your phone or electricity bill after being on hold for half an hour, or, God forbid, if you have to make a work call with seven colleagues in a conference room on the other line listening to you on speaker phone, your little one will inevitably decide they want a snack, need a poo, or have an itchy eyelash.
Even if you’re just chit-chatting to friends, not a lot of people will have the patience to converse with you when every other sentence is directed to your child. “I tend to wait for a nap time to make a call,” says one mother, “but then have 100 other things to do by that point!”
For most of us when we were kids, going to the supermarket with our parents was the ultimate snooze-fest, and a breeding ground for meltdowns of enormous proportions. Shopping with children in tow can be akin to having teeth pulled so it’s no wonder that a lot of parents opt to do their shopping online instead.
Whether or not you were a big supermarket person in your pre-kids days, as one mum described it, “you never realise what a treat it is to walk around Sainsbury’s on your own until you’ve had kids. One of my favourite ways to spend a Friday night now is to do the food shop on my own with my headphones in, listening to music.” Bliss!
12) Leaving the house spontaneously
Spontaneity. It’s a nice concept and something that you take for granted until it’s gone—which is pretty much the day you have a baby. Going out of the house, even if it’s just to nip to the shops, the park, or visit a friend has to be planned, negotiated, and organized with military precision. The terms ‘spur of the moment’ or ‘just get up and go’ don’t apply to people with kids.
“I miss going out to the shops for a quick hour to do 10 things on a list,” one mum says. “Now, I have a double buggy to pack, food, drinks, snacks, more snacks, changes of clothes, coats, hats, scarves, mittens, shoes, socks, nappies, toys to keep them occupied, rain covers, and by the time I’m ready, one of them has dirtied their nappy and it’s right up their back. A full change of clothes later, we can leave, but by then I only manage to visit one shop because I’m too knackered trying to keep the kids amused. Online shopping at 11pm it is then!” In addition, what’s it like being able to travel anywhere in London without worrying about where the lifts are?
13) Not Having to Fit Everything Around Baby
Simply put, the moment you have kids, your life starts to revolve around them. Everything you do or plan has to be with them in mind. Obviously your life doesn’t stop once you have a baby; you can still do most of the things you did before but it just takes so much more effort, time, planning and organisation than before. In addition, backup plans are recommended, and be prepared to have to cancel at the last minute; if kids can pride themselves in one thing, it’s their unpredictability.
14) Control of the TV
When friends ask if you’ve caught up with the latest episodes of The Crown, You, and The Witcher: “No, but I’ve watched every single episode of Peppa Pig, several times.”
Most of us miss being able to watch a programme that isn't aimed at kids—whether at home or at the cinema—and, if we do ever manage to sit down for a movie after cleaning the whole house and preparing everything for the next morning once the kids are in bed, make it through a whole film without falling asleep.
15) Control of the car radio
Some of our favourite music is not exactly what you’d call kid appropriate, and we’ve made peace with the fact that our Spotify songs have now been whittled down to a PG-rated playlist. What we didn’t sign up for, however, was listening to children’s songs 24/7—but if Baby Shark on repeat will keep the kids somewhat placated in the car, then that’s what it’s got to be. Say goodbye to your brain cells, and enjoy that Pink Fong tune, doo doo do do doo doo…
If there’s no time to bathe, there’s more than likely no time to read either. “I used to get through a book every 1-2 weeks,” one mother tells us. “I think I managed 1-2 books in the whole first year of my son being born.”
Your best bet for getting any reading in would be a Kindle. The transition from real book to Kindle might seem off-putting at first, but just the fact that you can read it one-handed—or no handed if you get a stand-up case—helps tremendously when breastfeeding. If it’s backlit too, you may even get some reading in just before you tuck in for the night without disturbing anyone with your reading light.
Between following you to the bathroom, in the shower, or when you’re changing, going through your bags and drawers, coming into your bed at night, talking over you while you’re trying to have a conversation, and telling your business to the world (“Mummy farted really loudly yesterday”), privacy is not something that new parents can boast about.
18) Peace and quiet
Although empty-nesters yearn for the non-stop hustle and bustle of a kid-filled household, that doesn’t mean they didn’t at times long for some peace and quiet. Sometimes we just need some shhhhh, but, unfortunately, “Mummy’s got a headache, sweetie,” means absolutely zilch to a toddler.
19) Me time
If they have the opportunity, most parents hire a babysitter when they have to run important errands or go to work. It’s rarer for them to take some time off for themselves, but me-timeis necessary and a lot of mothers wish they had more of it. Having a swim and sauna, a massage, enjoying a yoga lesson, curling up with a good book, or going out for a few drinks without having mum guilt for leaving the kids, are just some of the things that mums told us they wished they had more of.
20) Holidays abroad
An annual holiday abroad may have been something your single self saved up for and looked forward to all year, but family holidays with kids are a far cry from solo, couple, or girly holidays. Not only does the cost go up greatly with the addition of extra humans, the amount of planning that has to go into it may just put you off the idea all together. As time goes by, we can totally understand how Kevin McCallister’s mum just forgot the whole child at home.
21) Drugs, alcohol, caffeine (and maybe even dairy!)
By drugs we mean medication and antibiotics. When pregnant and breastfeeding, most meds are banned and that could mean having to suffer through colds, flu, headaches, and any other kind of pain and discomfort.
Some mothers even have to cut out certain foods that could be causing allergies like dairy, eggs, or soya, and anything over one or two cups or tea or coffee a day are advised against. The hassle of pump-and-dump might not be worth that glass of wine, no matter how much you fancy it. All in all, a lot of our creature comforts are either banned or restricted.
22) Cooking for fun
You may have had visions of yourself as a domestic goddess post-kids, whipping up delicious, healthy and creative meals on the daily. Well, at least you got one part right; you are cooking every day, but it’s more frozen chicken Kievs and fish fingers than mushroom risotto and beef wellington.
“I miss being able to cook a decent meal as I just don't have the time,” laments one mother. “Tonight it’s been throw-in-the-oven chicken nuggets and potato waffles. I literally dump the kids on anyone who visits as it’s the only way I can make dinner.”
23) Energy levels
New mothers are notoriously super-tired, from birth recovery and breastfeeding, to always being on high-alert, having a million things to do, multi-tasking, sleep deprivation, and other common issues such as postpartum depression, and even anaemia. Mums are great at taking care of everyone else apart from themselves, and as a consequence, their energy levels—among other things—can take a deep dive.
24) Naughty snacks
You’re dying for that cookie or packet of crisps but you know what will happen as soon as those little mites hear the sound of the wrapper; you’ll be lucky if you get a bite! One mumtriber tells us, “I miss not having to wait until the kids aren’t around or are in bed so I can eat all the unhealthy stuff I tell them they’re not allowed (read: tons of chocolate)!”
We’re just going to blurt it out: going to a restaurant with small kids isn’t much fun. There, we said it. The difference between taking your kids out instead of having them at home is that you simply have to look after them in another environment. The restaurant experience usually consists of us having to wolf our food down, if not neglect it entirely, to feed and/or entertain the kids before hurriedly paying the bill, apologizing to fellow restaurant-goers who now have spaghetti in their hair, and scurrying out of there.
26) Friends, social life and nights out
In the early days of motherhood, and even when kids are older, a lot of parents have said that their social lives have been put on the back burner. Socialising with friends without the little people becomes rarer and rarer. Also, mum-ghosting is very real. A lot of our friends may not be in the same stage in life as us and so these types of relationships tend to suffer. Even if you are invited on a girls’ night out, the thought of waking up early to tend to children with a hangover can put you off going entirely.
Relationshipsrequire a lot of hard work and TLC at the best of times, so you can imagine how much more you have to work at it when kids come along! “It’s hard to maintain the fireworks or enjoy cuddles and date nights when you have two children and jobs,” explains one mum. “I miss little nights away with my guy.”
While decades of studies show that marital relationships are more likely to decline after having children, we are also more aware of these issues and know that (1) there’s no harm in admitting that it’s hard, (2) communication is key, and (3) seeking help if necessary is a great step.
28) Adult conversation
Water, Mummy. No. Peppa. Mummy pig. Oh no. Poo poo. Snack, Mummy. I want cheese. Unicorn! I hate cheese. Ouch, Mummy. Baby shark. One little finger, tap, tap, tap. Water, Mummy. No water, Mummy. The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish. Wee wee. Dinosaur!
Now imagine that all day... Every. Single. Day. Never has a conversation with the postman seemed more appealing.
You’d never thought it would be possible to actually miss a dreaded hangover, but alas; new mothers are desperate creatures. “I miss being able to slob on the sofa all day and then have a restorative McDonalds for lunch/tea to cure my hangover,” shared one mum. “With children, if you manage a night out, you have to stop drinking by about 11pm so that you’re sober enough at 7am to do breakfast. If you are silly enough to stay out drinking until the wee hours, more fool you, as those little people are relentless first thing in the morning!”
30) Brain function and sanity
“They say giving birth to a child is when the fear is also born; fear for them,” one new parent describes. Continually worrying about another’s safety, health, wellbeing, and every single other thing about them—all day, every day—can literally drive one crazy. That, in addition to not having any alone time, constantly being on high alert, severe exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and mum guilt, makes you feel like voluntarily checking in to an insane asylum.
We can certainly sympathize with one mum who says, “I miss my brain. It’s been AWOL since giving birth the first time and I’m still looking for it. I was once an organised freak, and now I struggle to remember my own name!” Same, gurl! Same.