Question: What piece of advice do you wish you had known prior to having kids?
A few days ago we received some wonderful news about someone close to us expecting their first child. When they told us the news they then asked, “Do you have any advice for us?” Definitely a common question that many first-time parents ask. While my first thought was to say, “You should have used protection” it somehow seemed inappropriate at the moment (but still funny). But, at the end of the day, it really got me thinking about what I wish I had known prior to having kids.
There are countless books and articles covering this topic but for each person, it is a personal answer. Each parent’s lives are impacted in such different ways that there is no single, correct answer that fits each person’s idea of parenthood. If I asked 10 people for their advice I believe that I would receive 10 different answers. I’m sure some people would say to be prepared for the lack of sleep, while others may talk about a drastic change in their social lives. For my wife and I, I think the biggest change when having children was how it redefined our marriage.
Prior to having children and while we were still in London, our marriage was so in sync that Justin Timberlake would have been impressed. We could predict one another’s thoughts and were always on the same page no matter the topic. We had a strong social calendar (as a couple and as individuals) and our home life was relatively simple. We had disagreements like any couple, but the vast majority of the time it was smooth sailing no matter which direction we went. As a couple, we were in a wonderful spot and loving every minute of our life abroad. Enter Kids…[cue doom and gloom music…jk]
“Happy marriages look to the future, not the past.” – Dale Partridge
To say that our children did a cannonball from a high dive into our simple, carefree, predictable life would be an understatement. From day one we rapidly learned just how unprepared we were despite having taken several classes and made all the appropriate preparations. And my wife and I…let’s just say that our marriage was quickly redefined in the most beautiful of ways. You see, the funny thing about kids is is that even though they can be pure anarchy, the absolute joy and innocence that they also bring to any family should be a reminder of what’s truly important. So, while our simple world was turned upside down, the 180-degree turn was the best decision that we ever made.
While it is true that our social lives have been kicked in the crotch, sleep is a luxury (hence the name Dad Loves Coffee) and much of our day revolves around the kid’s schedules, my wife and I have grown even closer as we’ve had to work together to keep our relationship strong. As a couple, we’ve had to figure out new ways to keep the spark alive while knee-deep in diapers. It’s been a major challenge that hasn’t been without arguments, but at the end of the day, it’s been a challenge that we’ve tackled together. While there are some days that we miss our care-free lifestyle (especially during the pandemic and isolation), we both know that we wouldn’t trade our new relationship and family for anything in the world.
So to any first-time, expectant parents, I would give this piece of advice: Understand and accept that your marriage and personal lives may/will change but you must work together to create a new definition of who you are as a couple. New boundaries will be drawn and a new set of expectations will emerge after the child is born, but it is in your best interest and the best interest of your children to keep your marriage strong despite the changes you’ll face. Because at the end of the day, the best thing that we can give our children is a strong, happy marriage.