How Does Having a Baby Change Your Life? (Guest Post)
By Lisa Pecos
For new parents, no two situations are alike. Everyone has their own habits, their own hobbies, and their own experiences. So if you are about to welcome your first child into your life, only you can know how you are going to handle it. Some people have been preparing for years to become parents and are more or less ready, while others receive their first child with no more than a few months to prepare mentally, socially, and financially. Whatever your situation, there are ways to handle the new arrival so that your life and your family’s life become better. One thing is for sure, though: Life will change.
The end of personal freedom?
The one thing that catches many new parents off guard is just how much less free they feel, particularly in the first months of the new child’s life. We take for granted the fact that we can eat when we want, sleep when we feel like it, and go out on a whim. With a child, however, suddenly you will be forced to think twice about all of these things, and life will never be the same-at least for the next eighteen years.
Your eating and sleeping schedule will be dictated by the baby. Simply going to the store becomes an ordeal. Even small tasks within the home-say, cooking dinner or taking a shower-require you to coordinate with your partner or secure your child safely in her crib or chair within your sight. This is not to mention all the other little restrictions. No matter what activity you are engaged in, from now on you will always have to be aware of where the baby is, and she will have to be within sight or earshot at all times.
While these changes may be jarring for the first few months of parenthood, you might be surprised by how much you get used to them. Sure, having to constantly consider your child can be a burden, but it is also a joy. In all likelihood, you will love your child so much that you will not consider this loss of freedom a bad thing. In fact, being a parent may give your everyday life a sense of purpose and meaning that you never had before. It is a worthwhile tradeoff.
Your home space
If you have a large home with room to spread out, consider yourself lucky. However, many new parents live in small homes or apartments without much room to inconspicuously stow away all the baby’s stuff. Be prepared for your baby’s clothes, toys, books, and furniture to make your living space feel quite crowded. In fact, many new parents feel the need to get rid of much of their own unneeded stuff to make room for all the baby’s needs. And these are not to be underestimated; for such little people, babies and the things they need take up quite a lot of room.
Your social life
If you are the type of person who is happier at home with a good book or movie than out with friends, then you are already well suited to make the transition into a life of parenting. Because once you have a child at home, there will not be much time to go out and socialize. Friends can always come over, but if course you will have to coordinate their visits with the baby’s sleeping and eating habits. And though you can always take your baby out to visit, the baby’s needs will restrict what you can do out in the world.
Fortunately, most people know that the first few months of parenting are particularly time-consuming for the parents, and your good friends should be understanding. On the other hand, some people are less understanding and may distance themselves from you now that you are a parent. But for the most part, if you stay actively engaged with people via phone, email, and social networking, then your social circle does not have to be greatly diminished. Your social life will just take different forms.
Having a new baby in the picture makes some very obvious changes in the parents’ relationship. Now that there is a third person in the family, the focus will be less on each other and more on the baby. Meanwhile, you both may become quite fatigued from playing catch-up with the baby’s inconsistent sleeping hours. As a result, you may not feel as close to your partner as you used to, and your intimate life likely will suffer.
The good news is that things do get better. The first month to six weeks can be particularly rough, and after that the baby’s sleeping habits should become more consistent. Then, you will find that you have more time to rest, and there will be much more time for you and your partner to spend together without the baby between you. Prevail through these early weeks, and your relationship will likely come out stronger.