Just about all of us had a few wrong ideas about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own wacky ideas of how we would do things differently than everyone else. Other ideas we take for granted as new parents, only to realize later how laughable the idea was. Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids.
Lie #1. Put your baby down drowsy but awake.
I am pretty sure this is the biggest lie ever perpetrated against humankind. You know what happened when I put an awake baby down in a crib or bed? They stared at me like, ok cool, I can chill here for a second. Then what are we gonna do, mama? Take a walk? Oh, you need to cook? No problem, I’ll hang out in the carrier and help you with the spatula.
I don’t personally know any of these mythical babies who fell asleep when put down while “drowsy,” although I have heard rumors of their existence. What is a drowsy baby anyway? This phrase makes it sound like babies have a pleasant evening phase in which they listen to a literary podcast before saying goodnight. In my experience there is no drowsy. There is wide awake and there is crying.
Lie #2. The evenings are when you’ll reconnect with your partner.
This worked for a little while, when we had one kid who went to bed earlier than we did. That phase didn’t last long. Now we have two kids, including one who likes to nap late and then go to bed late (with us). Often we all go to sleep together as a family, which is great. No bedtime battles. Some nights the stars align and both kids fall asleep early. By that point we are usually too brain dead to have a good conversation. Our best times to reconnect are usually when we’ve all had a good day of adventure, filled our own cups, spent time with the kids, and then come home and turn on a movie. Then we can talk while we are feeling relaxed and the kids are engrossed in the screen. Another option, of course, is a trusted babysitter. Making time to talk about something besides the kids on a regular basis is important, but once I stopped expecting that re-connection time to happen in the evenings, I was a lot less stressed.
Lie #3. You’ll breastfeed for about a year.
Through a combination of overzealous preparation and luck, I had no trouble breastfeeding. I thought that I’d breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, then add some solid food which my baby would adorably gobble down, while slowly reducing the number of breastfeeding sessions down to a couple times a day by a year old, and certainly by two years.
My kids arrived with other plans. At 6 months they had no interest in solid food. When presented with some avocado, they were like, “does this go in my hair?” It wasn’t until after age one that they started eating non-trace amounts of solid food.
I also know some great moms who made it to two months, three months, or six months of breastfeeding. Exactly one year of breastfeeding, while somehow deemed the most socially acceptable duration, is not that common.
Lie #4. You have to ____. Otherwise they’ll never _____.
When my oldest daughter was born, I initially embraced holding her for naps as much as possible. She was a newborn and needed it, right? It was the fourth trimester! Then she turned 4 months and I had a minor freak out. Was she supposed to be napping in her crib? WHAT IF SHE NEVER LEARNS TO SLEEP INDEPENDENTLY? As it turns out, there was no reason to worry. Little humans have an amazing drive to learn and become independent. They just do it on their own timetable. No one goes to college in diapers, with a pacifier, or still wanting to sleep with their parents. They all grow out of it without any intervention at all. No need to sweat it.
Lie #5. It gets easier as they get older.
This one is only half a lie. My kids are only 5 and 2.5, but things are easier in many ways than when they were 2.5 and 0. Those days with a toddler and newborn were HARD. In many ways life is easier now. We get more uninterrupted sleep at night and no one screams through an entire car ride (most of the time). At the same time, having two children with opinions and plans is in some ways harder than having one child plus a baby who can happily tag along on just about any outing.
Little kids generally also come with little problems. Almost all of them can be solved by a nap, a hug, or some more quality time together. As they grow older, their worlds grow bigger and we can’t always fix their problems with a hug or by snuggling up together. Seeing them wrestle with difficult life experiences makes toddler tantrums look easy.
Lie #6. Your life will never be the same again.
Technically, this is true. Your life is forever changed after having kids. However, this is usually said in a foreboding way, implying that your life will be worse than it was before kids. The truth is, your life won’t be the same again. Because it will be better.