Within three months of dating, my husband and I would talk about having kids.
We had goals of having our children before hitting our 30’s so that we could still feel youthful by the time they would graduate from high school. It’s a goal that most people set but later find more complicated due to schooling, career paths, having the right partner, and especially “being ready”.
My husband and I were lucky enough to have found each other at a young age and having kids just after college so we’ve achieved this goal twice so far, maybe even a third by the time I’m 30 (oh god!)
But we also said there were a bunch of things we wouldn’t do once we became parents and we failed at a whole bunch of them!
Before I go through with my list, I have to admit that my husband and I are the stricter type of parents when it comes to certain things. We embrace being parents but we refuse to sacrifice a few things to the extreme.
For example, we maintain our home looking like its ours, we decorated it and we don’t want kid furniture or toys taking over, that’s our design/architecture background talking). The kids have their rooms for storing their toys and furniture, they can occasionally bring a toy or two to play in the living room but at the end of the day things need to be put away.
This is not to say that we don’t respect people who do have toys and kids furniture in their living room in any way, this is just our preference for keeping our boundaries and teaching our children to be careful with our possessions which so far has been mostly successful. But we are constantly cleaning up to keep it this way.
Before we became parents, we would notice children between the ages of 5-12 in public places having tantrums or hooked to digital devices and it horrified us. We would assume, “oh that child is being spoiled” and “why can’t that child be socializing with everyone else instead of playing video games.”
Our kids are under the age of 3 and we still think this in some cases, but we’ve also had moments when that tantrum cannot be prevented, or the only thing to soothe the hysterics is a specific youtube video as a distraction. We get it! But at the same time I will do my best to prevent that tantrum without spoiling my child (too much) and I will take away the digital devices when unnecessary (just an example).
So let’s get to it. Here’s some things we swore we wouldn’t do:
1. Get a Minivan
Most people don’t like minivans or the image it brings. But once they become parents it just makes sense to have a bigger and more spacious car- trust me, I know, I used to drive a 2 door compact car that didn’t fit our stroller in the trunk and getting my baby in the carseat out the back was an annoying hassle.
BUT- My husband and I hate minivans so this is still on our list of NO WAY.
Sure, they’re convenient, but they’re so ugly! Why couldn’t car designers make minivans look a little bit nicer? We’ll stick to SUVs. I’ve got 2 kids in carseats and they fit fine, I keep my car decluttered and have plenty of room. If/when we have a third child we can make it work so that all 3 are in the backseat. No vans for us, thank you (but don’t worry, we won’t judge you, it’s just our personal preference).
2. Dress my Kids in Gender-Specific Clothing
When you raise a child with such strong expectations of how/who they should be it makes it very hard for them to break out of that shell. I’m mostly referring to when someone decides to “come out of the closet” in any way, whether it’s their sexuality or gender identification, etc. I try to be pretty open-minded about that.
When it comes to clothing, particularly for babies and children, it frustrates me to see that when you look at the boys section you see dark colors and sports symbols but when you look at the girls section you see light and bright colors and little bows and glitter. I promised myself I wouldn’t dress my future children with such strong gender-specific clothing.
I did refuse to dress my boy (first-born) in football onesies. I dressed him in plain baby clothing, sometimes with patterns.
When my daughter was born (second child) I had pulled out my son’s old baby clothes for her but when I dressed her it felt weird to me- I wanted her to have her feminine identity too. I ended up buying some more pink onesies and a little bit of hair decor. I didn’t go all out and dress her in tutus, glitter, or those giant headbands. People still thought she was a boy even though she was in pink- and that drove me nuts! Even after her ears were pierced. It wasn’t till she was over 1 years old that everyone would fully recognize her as a girl, and she didn’t really look like a boy to be honest.
Now that she’s 2, she wears girls clothing and her brother’s old pjs so with her full grown hair down she looks like a boy! Oh well.
3. Give my child Junk Food, Fast Food, or Candy
I’m not fit for the kitchen, cooking isn’t really something I like doing often. Before having kids I would make very basic meals or cheat and buy pre-made foods to cook on the spot.
Knowing how spoiled and basic my palette is, I don’t want my kids to follow in my picky footsteps or end up hooked to only eating two things (these kids are out there!) I do my best to hide my bad eating habits from my kids and I try to feed them with nutritious varieties of foods. So I prefer to stray from junk food, like chips, Cheetos, and Oreo’s, fast food, like mystery meats and chicken from drive through’s, and sugars from candy.
But I’ve failed, and I’m okay with it.
The truth is, sometimes its just more convenient to pass by a drive through when its almost nap time and you don’t have the time or patience to prepare a decent meal. As for the junk food and candy, once in a while won’t hurt anyone, as long as you balance out their nutrition and make sure they understand it as a reward. Sometimes I even bribe my son to finish his lunch by offering him chocolate or a cookie after.
4. Nurse in public
For me, the issue wasn’t because it’s disrespectful or disgusting because I think it’s a perfectly natural thing that should not be controlled or have to be hidden. I’m just self conscious, so I didn’t want people to see me naked, even if it meant just my breasts.
With my first-born, I was mostly at home for the months where I was able to nurse him so I never had to deal with this. But with my second-born I was always surrounded by a bunch of mom friends who had often nursed right in front of me so it gave me the confidence to do the same. And from then on I went a whole year of nursing comfortably in public. I had few issues when people were giving me weird looks so I would be a little more cautious and cover with a blanket because I didn’t want anything crazy to happen (you never know what people are capable of).
Check out my Nursing Guide Post.
IMAGE: I don’t think I have any pictures of myself nursing in public, I only have this one because it was funny. She was so tiny and I needed to sit… at Target!
5. Give our child access to a phone or tablet
Before becoming a parent I would notice young children hooked to digital devices in social gatherings, like family dinners at restaurants or even at home. I was appalled. I swore I wouldn’t give my child their own devices until they were much older because I know how addicting they are. I grew up with technology and I’m addicted to my cellphone!
I don’t want my child to be the kind that can’t socialize with people because of a screen. Not only that but screen time is not recommended for babies and toddlers because it does a lot of harm when it comes to eyesight and brain development.
I swore I wouldn’t, but I did.
Fast forward to being home alone with a baby in plain silence and no time alone to catch up with my shows. I love TV, I watch it all the time, now I’m supposed to give it up completely!? I would watch while baby napped and every night during family time, which had to include baby.
When they’re really little they don’t really pay attention to what you’re watching. But when I needed to step away without them crying or following me I would put something age appropriate on the TV for them. That’s how it all starts!
Not only does your child get addicted, but you take advantage of being able to do things. Finally a few minutes to cook something quick (from the freezer), clean the kitchen, or poop in private.
By the time I had two toddlers I realized I could leave my youngest in her crib with some toys and my oldest playing around the crib and leave a few videos playing so I could take a shower while watching them on the baby monitor. It was amazing! If you’re a parent you know that feeling when you actually get to shower and without interruptions, its so relaxing! I’ve adapted this method as they’ve grown but it always revolves around a screen.
Of course, this brings issues I wanted to avoid in the first place. I find my oldest sometimes sitting for long periods of time completely lost in space from watching TV. My youngest having one thing that can really calm her down, ONE video from youtube- no other distractions, no other videos will work!
So here I am, hoping my kids don’t get addicted to screens to the point of being unsociable in public, but still failing somehow. Except that I’m not really, because I monitor what they watch and I try to make it educational.
I even find that some tablets have educations applications for the kids that are either pre-programmed or installed so they learn different things as they grow.
6. MY child Will Not have Any Tantrums in Public
I swore my child would never be so “spoiled” as to have a public meltdown. Not sure why I thought I’d be able to control that…
To this day I’m lucky my kids haven’t driven me completely nuts with hysterics in public. I’m not gonna lie, my kids are pretty good most of time. And my friends always think I’m crazy when I tell them that they’re not perfect and that they definitely have their insanities and meltdowns too.
I’ve had my fair share of disobedience from my kids and tantrums, I think they’re just a little embarrassed to go to the extremes in public. And sometimes you just have to drop everything at the store and go to the car and head home.
Side Note- I wrote that last part almost a year ago, since then both my kids have given me multiple public tantrums and very regular at home ones to top their charts and drive me completely insane and literally exploding into my own adult tantrum.
But I already have a completely different attitude towards another child or parent during a massive meltdown or tantrum. Obviously I hope that it ends quickly for the sake of that poor parent, but I try to give them some assurance when possible, like “Hey, kids will be kids. They’re overwhelmed and need to let out their frustration. We’ve all been there!”
IMAGE: For the bad tantrums, I wouldn’t get a chance to photograph because I’d be dealing with the situation. But for this one, I don’t even remember what bothered her other than the stuffed chicken she was playing with and didn’t want to let go, she just needed to let it out so I sat and monitored nearby.
7. "Let Myself go"
So I’ve never been the type to care too much about my physical appearance. I’ve always balanced my outfit decisions more highly on comfort than aesthetic. And I’ve never been much for hair products, skin products, and especially not makeup despite my hereditary natural dark circles under my eyes. Before getting pregnant I would get up every morning, put on jeans and a decent shirt and go about my day.
I quickly had to put away those jeans and trade them for yoga pants as that bump was growing. And I was in my PJS- all day every day! My hair, was up in a pony/bun mix that was never all that appealing.
When I would actually get to wash my hair, I didn’t give myself the proper time to dry or brush it so it would go right back up, wet and all. I was beautiful- ha!!
Sometimes when my family would come to visit our baby they would hint at me “I can watch the baby, do you want to take a shower?” Or gift me perfume for my birthday (we’re a comical family).
And of course just as I might’ve been reducing the baby weight a little I decided to go for baby #2. Part of me was like “Screw it, I may as well get fat again and have that as an excuse. What’s the point of my losing all this weight if I plan on having another child soon anyway!?”
I still think it was a great idea but it did leave me a bit depressed when it came to looking at myself. I hated shopping because nothing would fit, and why do maternity stores sell clothes for middle-aged people instead of for my age!?
Maternity shopping baffled me. So I would just buy loose shirts one or two sizes bigger to allow for that bump and where did those boobs come from!? …3 years later: Can I get them back now please!?
I could hardly look at myself in a mirror that showed more than my face, everything was swelling. Sure the baby is growing in there and that part is fine, but my arms, my hips, my thighs. Jesus! Why did I gain so much weight.
And after you deliver your child the belly is still sagging there and you’re still swollen everywhere else but have no time or energy to burn it off. Nor do you realize how bad you look until you actually do see yourself in the mirror (the full mirror) or take hours trying to get dressed because you can’t zip up any of your pants.
Within the 6 months between my pregnancies I didn’t lose more than 10 pounds of just baby weight, and all the body fat I gained was spread throughout my entire body.
For some reason my second pregnancy was totally different, I seemed slimmer, and didn’t gain a ton of body fat everywhere. And I was able to lose a lot of body fat afterwards without much focused effort. Within a year I managed to return to my previous clothing sizes, meaning now I’m swimming in all the clothes in my closet.
I may look a lot better now, but I’m still stuck with that pooch– you know that post baby belly flap in the center (apparently called a FUPA). Still working on that!! And definitely trying to disguise it.
Before having kids, I cared about how I looked and smelled, even if I didn’t care for makeup or beauty products. Now, I really don’t care much. I even have grey hairs growing all over my head. Pre-kids, I only had 2 grey strands. I still try to look presentable in public but I don’t always get to shower daily and I will definitely be in my PJ’s all day if I have no plans to go out.
So here’s where a meme of a hot mess mom would go side by side with a mom ready to go out- same person!
8. HAve my Social Media be all about my kids
Honestly, I was probably one of the few people to admit that I would definitely become this parent. And I don’t even care. My kids are my life and joy.
I definitely overshare on social media photos of my kids because to me these are such great moments, I really value photos as memories. I take hundreds of candid pictures of my children so that I can remember them this way. And I share them often because I have friends and family all over the world who love seeing them so I’m proud of that.
what did you swear you wouldn't do as a parent?
My name is Paula and I’m a mom of two scrumptious cuties. Thanks Mommy Blog became a project for me to help guide other new moms and current moms through any of my own personal experiences and struggles. My hobbies include singing, doing jigsaw puzzles, baking, designing and trying to stay creative.