The struggle is real. You have no idea until you have a baby in your house full time. No amount of babysitting, classes or books can really prepare you. It is a trial by poop. Lots and lots of poop. Before you dive off into the deep end, you should know some things about having kids.
25 Things Every Person Needs To Know Before Having Kids
1. Every Kid Needs Something a Little Different
Every kid needs something a little different from you. Some need attention constantly and some need to be left alone. Your kid will let you know what they need in subtle and not so subtle ways.
2. Kids Develop At Their Own Pace
Potty training, talking, eating on their own – these are all things kids do, but every kid tackles them at different stages and takes a different amount of time to develop them. Hang in there and keep trying. They will get it eventually.
3. Lighten Up
Develop a sense of humor or cultivate the one you already have. You are going to need it. A sense of humor will keep you sane.
4. Sleep Deprivation Is Real
Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is a figment of your imagination. Sleeping in? HA! Hasta la vista baby. Take a page from the military veterans and learn to sleep when you can, anywhere you can.
5. Kids Freak Out Over Literally Nothing
Kids will completely lose their sh*t over nothing. You didn’t do anything wrong. They just aren’t in control of their emotions.
6. Kids Push Boundaries
Tell them not to do something and they will smile and slowly do that very thing right in front of you to see what they can get away with. They will push the boundaries that you set for them. Stand firm. Kids need boundaries to keep them safe and to teach them what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.
7. Kids Want To Explore
Kids will get into everything. They are a miniature Houdini when they want to be. They want to explore and learn. Their developing brain is driving them to seek out new things. Be watchful, but indulge their learning whenever possible.
8. Buy Mac n Cheese
Buy the sh*t out of this stuff. It is like an addiction with them.
9. Keep Your Head On A Swivel
Develop your situational awareness. They will wander off or get into something when you get distracted from them. If it is quiet, then they are up to something.
10. Develop Your Patience
They are not adults and not completely in control of themselves. They will piss you off. Take a deep breath and let it go. Don’t respond to them in anger. Be firm but be in control of yourself. They will test your patience.
11. Embrace Repetition
Kids learn through repetition. They will repeat phrases, words, songs or actions. They will watch the same movie or show or listen to the same songs hundreds of times. You will have to repeat things for them until they get them.
12. Let Go Of Control
Set boundaries and then let them loose within those boundaries. Don’t try to control their every action or decision. They have their own agency. Let them figure out who they are within the limits of safety and decency.
13. Embrace Routine
Find a routine that works for you both and get used to it. Kids love routines and will flip out when those routines are changed. This is doubly true of kids with mental disabilities.
14. Don’t Manipulate With Rewards or Punishments
Bribery and threats only work for the very short term. Then, kids figure out how to work the system or get tired of the reward / punishment. Positive encouragement and known punishments for bad behavior work when applied consistently.
15. Be Mindful Of Your Words
They hear everything you say and will repeat it at the worst possible time.
16. Be Mindful Of Your Actions
They will mimic your behavior and tone. You have to lead by example.
17. You Are Not Their Buddy
If they are happy with you all of the time, then you are neglecting your duties. You are not their friend. You are their parent, and sometimes that means being the bad guy.
18. You Like Cartoons Right?
You will know every song and every line of dialogue. You will find yourself watching their shows when they are not around.
19. Manage Your Time Wisely
They have a routine and you have a job. You both have interests. You will need to find time for all of you to not only indulge your personal sports or hobbies, but also to spend time together.
20. Kids Are A Roller Coaster Ride
One minute they are happy as can be, and the next, it is the apocalypse, then back to being chipper. A kid’s emotional range is vast and they will swing back and forth. Roll with it. Enjoy the ride.
21. Cherish The Little Moments
Amid the dirty diapers and tantrums over nothing, there will be fleeting moments of pure joy. They will be burned into your memory. Cherish them.
22. Embrace The Chaos
You cannot control the wind. All you can do is adjust the sails. Don’t try to maintain rigid control over them or your life. Be flexible and learn to bend before you break.
23. Pick Your Battles
You can guide them in the general direction you want them to go, but they will color outside the lines. If you fight them on everything, they will rebel even more. Be firm on the important things and be flexible with everything else.
24. Be Firm and Consistent
Kids like structure and boundaries, as do the rest of us. Establish the rules and boundaries in your household and then apply those rules consistently and firmly.
25. Giving Up Is Not An Option
Walking away from your responsibilities is unacceptable. You signed up for life when you had them. There is no do-over. No matter how much they succeed or screw up, you are there for them, forever. It is a lifetime commitment. You bleed for them, you sacrifice for them, you teach them, you lead them and when necessary, you carry them. They are the culmination of millions of years of work and effort. You both are but torch bearers in a much longer journey.