—By Tori Rotter, Creator, Little + Free
They produce A LOT of laundry.
Maybe this feels like a given. Perhaps you have already thought about this. But for some reason, I never really thought about this before having children. People warn you about the bottle/pacifier/baby spoons/etc. And that is also A LOT. But the laundry thing never really crossed my mind, and no one ever mentioned it. My husband and I already produce a lot of laundry, and in my head, I figured a baby would contribute a little. It turns out, they become the majority of your regular wash cycle. You would think tiny baby, tiny clothes. But for one, babies typically wear multiple outfits a day (due to spit-up, leaks, blowouts, etc). But also, it's not just clothes. It's blankets, sheets (baby sheets must be washed constantly), towels, wash clothes, sleepsuits, bibs, toys, hats, and so on. They come with a lot of stuff, and most of it needs to be laundered constantly.
Now, with a four-year-old and a baby, we do multiple loads of laundry EVERY day. This is excellent news for people who enjoy doing laundry, but for the rest of us, just prepare to spend a lot of quality time with your washer and dryer.
Their schedules will dictate your life.
Perhaps I'm the only one who never really thought about this, but your baby's (or toddler's) schedule will become your schedule. To be clear, I am not talking about appointments, playdates, extra-curricular activities, etc. (although all of that requires an adjustment period). I'm referring to infants' and toddlers' eating, napping, and playtime schedules. Now you may think, "I'm not really a schedule person…I think I'll just wing it with my kids." And honestly, if you can pull that off, you either have the easiest kids ever (and I'm jealous), or you are the most laidback person alive (and I'm also jealous). But more often than not, your baby will be on a schedule. Some parents choose the schedule based on recommendations from books/doctors/friends, or some people let their baby fall into their schedule. Either way, your baby will expect to eat, sleep, and play at certain times of the day. And by expect, I mean get cranky if they don't.
Until this point, I'm probably saying things people already consider, but the kicker is how this established schedule affects YOUR schedule. Because, as I mentioned, if the baby is hungry, the baby expects to eat. They do not care if you need to go to the grocery store, have an important work call, need to shower, have an event you want to attend, or otherwise. This goes for napping too. There are ways to reasonably integrate feeding a baby (or getting them to nap) into some of these scenarios. But you would be surprised at how much you fear the prospect of not being able to feed them on time or them not being able to successfully nap. And because of this fear, you ask yourself, "will this fit into the baby's schedule" before you say yes to any invitation or make any plan that involves leaving the house. I've literally turned down invitations to parties because they fall in the middle of my daughter's naptime, so do with that what you will.
Trying to keep your house "clean" is literally impossible.
I know you probably think, "ok, this one we all know," but let me explain. It's incredibly common for parents (really of any age children, but especially parents of infants or toddlers) to make excuses for their house not being as tidy and organized as they'd like it to be. Particularly if a well-kept home was very much a part of who they were before procreating. However, what I've noticed, is that people always make mention of it to guests in an apologetic manner. As if they have done something wrong in the scenario to lead to a messy house. The truth, however, is that keeping an organized and tidy home is virtually impossible regardless of the effort to do so.
For one, babies and kids have a lot of things. The first year of a baby's life is full of development stages that require so many different items that your house can start to look like a baby store (think: the bouncy seat, baby swing, jumper, walker, play mat, pack n play, etc.). And almost all of these types of items take up a lot of space. Then, you have toys, books, arts and crafts, and those growth-necessary items. So, unless you have a huge home with ample amounts of "out of sight storage," your house is going to be cluttered and it's going to be a bit messy.
Secondly, young children have a way of undoing any tidying you've done almost immediately. The second you put away the dolls that have been on the floor for two hours (untouched) will be the exact moment your child wants to play with said dolls. One of the best pieces of advice I could give new or hopeful parents is that you must accept this fact and move on. You needn't apologize to guests nor feel guilty about it internally. You will drive yourself crazy trying to make your home look like it did before you had a child. It just simply cannot happen.
Just move/get rid of the furniture.
There is a lot of talk about babyproofing, making room for babies, etc. But no one talks about how much easier it is just to get rid of (or store somewhere) that sharp-edged coffee table or precarious glass side table. When you're especially proud of your home décor, it can feel frustrating having to "mess up the vibe" when you have children. My husband and I were convinced we wouldn't let our whole house turn into a Gymboree. However, once the babies start moving, it is SO much easier just to get the dangerous stuff out and let their toys/entertainment run amok. For example, when my first daughter started to crawl, we kept moving the glass coffee table in the middle of the living room to the side while she played. And then back again. And we did this for about a week before I insisted that we move it to the basement. And after we did, it was as if life became a minimum of 10x easier. She could roam around freely, and we didn't have to make sure she wasn't headed toward the coffee table every five seconds. And after that, we just made the adjustments around the house to essentially create a giant playpen. And surprisingly, we weren't upset that our house didn't look put-together anymore; we were just happy to be able to sit down. Now, while this was possible for us because of storage availability, I realize that might not be the reality for everyone. But if you can store or get rid of the "concerning" pieces in your home, I can't recommend it enough.
As I said a few times, maybe you already knew most of these things. And if you did, you could rest assured knowing that you are incredibly prepared for children. But for those who didn't, I hope it helps a little to know now. And I gladly welcome any other tidbits about the older years! I have always found that being prepared softens the blow.