You don’t know what you don’t know and your 20’s are no exception. Parenting is something we see day in and day out; from an outside perspective it seems pretty cut and dry. But then you become the mother and it really turns your understanding of children, family and even the whole world upside down. Here are just a handful of truths that I wish I could go back in time and explain to my pre-kid self. Let’s face it, my sisters are probably reading this and wishing that I consulted them because there are probably another dozen lessons they would have loved to teach me back when they had kids and I was in my 20’s.
10 Truths You Wish You Could Tell Your Pre-Kid Self (or Sister)
Don’t feel rushed to have kids
I’ve never heard someone utter the phrase “I really wish I was younger when I had my kids.” Seriously, moms never say it because moms never think it. In your 20’s you’re anxious for your life to start happening. You want your career to advance, you want to meet the one, you want him to propose, you want to have kids. The order and timeline that this happens is totally irrelevant. There is so much freedom and opportunity before you have kids to do whatever and be whatever you want. Embrace it because once you have kids your life slowly starts to narrow. Not at all once but day by day, little by little, you begin to follow a trajectory that is much harder to alter when there are people who need you to mold, guide and care for them.
If you’ve got it (even if you don’t think you do) flaunt it
Sorry college girls but your days of; burgers before you go out, throwing back like 6 shots followed by carne asada fries, all to wake up with no hang over and a perfectly trimmed bikini body ready to lounge by the pool are numbered. Even the hottest mom bod’s only closely resemble their previous kid-less shape. Your hips might widen, your butt might look bigger and your boobs will definitely, well ….you’ll see. My advice is don’t squander your hotness. Embrace it! Wear tight clothes, walk around in your bikini without a cover up and expose all that tanned and tight skin. Someday it will be gone and you’ll be thinking… “I would give anything to be the size I was when I was engaged and telling everyone I really wanted to lose 3.5 lbs before the wedding”.
There is no reason not to be traveling the world
I am all for saving and living within your means but let’s face it, whether you are single or a DINK (double income no kids) you probably have money to spare. If you can just redirect the funds that you are spending on drinks at the bar you could pretty quickly find yourself on your way to some great international travel. It ss true South America will always be there, but you won’t always have the time, freedom and excess income to go and see it. What the few people who are lucky to travel internationally with kids aren’t telling you from the rosy perspective of vacations past is that, traveling international with kids is hard.
Go out all the time
I know I just told you to save your bar tab money for travel but in that very same breath I want to say, go out all the time. Kids will control your schedule to the point where leaving the house after dark starts to feel strange. You might be the type of parent who totes your kids along and lets them stay up late but even then, you have kids with you and are probably mouthing across the restaurant at the carefree group of friends on out on a couple’s night, “you have no idea how good you have it right now.”
You’re really not that tired
Every time I hear a 20-something say that they are “sooo tired” I was to slap them across their contoured and powdered rosy little cheek. When you go to bed at midnight but sleep in till 8am, you have still gotten 8 solid and completely restful hours of sleep. As you complain to your older sister who has a 9 month old and probably hasn’t slept 8 solid hours since the day she was born and (don’t tell her) she won’t for probably another half decade or more. It’s not even the hour for hour REM sleep comparison. A busy day in the life of a single 20 something is like a walk in the park for a mother. You only have you and you alone to care for. Ok, you probably have a lapdog too, but I’m not going to count walking her to the mailbox with you every 3rd day of the week when you actually check your mail a real responsibility.
Reconsider your career
Here is some advice that should be given out in spades to anyone who knows they want kids and wants to work. Are you picking a career that is going to be flexible enough for you to do when you have kids? I can’t tell you how many brilliant and well educated moms I know who don’t work because their careers aren’t made for her to be both roles. In your 20’s there are so many career paths to pursue so if you are the type that wants to be a mom who has flexibility to be with her kids while keeping a foot in the door of her career, don’t overlook the importance of this question.
Stop being so afraid of being alone
For many women in the 20’s you are still building the self confidence to be alone. The idea of sitting down to eat a meal in public alone or going to the movies alone are completely out of the question. You probably always want company in public and don’t spend much time alone without a roommate or spouse. Good news, once you have kids you never have to worry about being alone. Now, you will still be lonely at times, but that is a whole blog topic in and of itself. My advice is to try and get over your fear of being alone. Enjoying your own company makes motherhood much easier. You will be less likely to get bored or resentful when the dull moments of parenting wash over you. You’ll find more pleasure in the nights that your husband stays home with the kids and you run errands, grab dinner or even go to a movie alone.
You don’t have a clue what it’s like to be on the parent side, and that’s ok
20-somethings think they are being helpful by asking moms, “Why don’t you just….”. Watching kids and raising them are two different things so even if you have years of babysitting experience it is still an apples and oranges comparison. The mom you are talking to doesn’t expect you to get it and instead of trying to get her to explain “what is it she does all day” you could probably avoid a very angry glare if you just said “Anything I can do before I go?”
Just because you have excess income doesn’t mean you need to spend it all
I am going to jump start the honesty train by shamefully admitting that I owned 10 Juicy Couture track suits in my 20’s. I literally had a few thousand dollars of sweats sitting in my closet. Yes I was wise enough to tuck some of it away into investments but anything that I could get my hands on, I was pretty dead set on spending. Did I have to pick up that round of drinks at the bar for $100 to look like a big shot? All those tiny spending decisions are the prerogative of someone in their 20’s but I’m here to tell you that if you reign in your finances the shock of having kids and possibly cutting your family income in half will feel way less harsh because you weren’t spending so frivolously leading up to it.
A void you didn’t even know was there is going to be filled
My pre-kid years were awesome and ones that I will look back on fondly as I timehop through Facebook. But what the pictures of travels and friends and fun don’t show is a little bit of loneliness. I didn’t even really realize it at the time but it took having kids and experiencing just how full my heart can be to see that there wasn’t nearly as much love lying beneath the surfaces of those picture perfect memories. Even in the worst days of motherhood when it’s hot and your toddler won’t nap and the baby is teething and you know you aren’t going to get any work done until well after they are asleep, there is more love radiating out of your must frustrating days than there was in the coolest moments of single years.
The Bottom Line:
I don’t mean to sound snarky. Believe me when I say that I love 20-something year olds, I was you and I am describing my pre-kid self. Just ask my oldest sister who can personally attest to how many times she wanted to shove these truths down my throat when she had toddlers and I was in college. Most of this advice someone without kids is going to roll their eyes at and just think, “Ok, but not me, I’m better than that…”. An opinion which is as it should be. Just email this post to yourself check your inbox in 5 years and read it again. I imagine when you do so, you’ll talk a nice walk down memory lane like the Mammas reading this and then hopefully send it off to your younger sister to try to explain to her how drastically life can change in less than a year.