Saturday, April 5, 2014

Life Before Kids and After Kids

It's no secret that kids change you.  They change your lifestyle, your family dynamic, your time management, your personal grooming habits, and pretty much every other aspect of life as you know it.  Any parent will tell you that a healthy sense of humor and an abundance of patience are crucial for surviving parenthood.  Some days I have more good humor than others.  Some days my patience stretches past dinner time and some days it's exhausted by the "I don't want to brush my teeth" tantrum first thing in the morning.

I love my kids.  And they drive me crazy.  I am well aware that I will miss these hectic days later in life (At least that's what all the old ladies at the mall tell me).  I can't help but occasionally reminisce about the peace and quiet of my "Before Kids" days.

So, for the future me that is bemoaning my kids leaving for college, here is a brief reminder about the reality of what you think you're missing. 

BK: Pick up shoes.  Vacuum house.
AK: Ask your kids to pick up their shoes.  Eye rolls.  Heavy sighs.  Wait 5 minutes.  Deep breath.  Remind your kids again to pick up shoes.  Create a "game" to get them to help clear toys off the floor.  Over zealously encourage them to play your "game" of cleaning up toys off the floor.  Put dirty clothes in the hamper.  Realize that shirt has a missing button.  Find needle, thread and (semi) matching button.  Remember that you're trying to vacuum.  Leave shirt in the laundry room.  Place couch cushions back on the couch.  Remind kids that you are cleaning off the floor, not putting more things ON the floor.  Re-shelve books.  Return musical shakers found in the living room to the music storage box in the bedroom.  Remind children that we put toys away gently and don't throw them across the room into the toy box.  Heavy sigh.  Kids scream, run around the house and finally take refuge on the couch so the vacuum doesn't eat their toes.  Vacuum house.

Cleaning the dining table
BK: Toss place mats in the laundry.  Wipe table.
AK: Chisel oatmeal cement from the corner of the table.  Peel crusty, milk-stained place mats from the table.  Brush large crumbs onto the floor.  Whistle for the dog.  Remove hair clips and Barbie shoes from the table and return to their proper storage location.  Scrub week-old milk splatter off the leg of the table.  Wipe table.

Going to the grocery store
BK: Make a list.  Drive to store.  Shop.
AK: Make a list.  Announce we are going to the store.  Help put on socks and shoes.  Remind kids to brush their teeth.  Negotiate how many toys are allowed to along for the ride to the store.  Kids ask to go to the park instead.  You say "No."  Listen to children list every last thing they would rather be doing besides going to the grocery store. (Resist the urge to respond with your own list of things you would rather be doing.)  Pants!  Gently remind your 3-year old that it's not socially acceptable to leave the house without pants.  Son asks who's turn it is to push the button to open the garage door.  You tell him (for the 5,046th time) that it is ALWAYS sister's turn to push the button when we leave the house.  It is ALWAYS his turn when we come home. Son pouts.  Ask kids if they need to use the potty.  Nobody has to go.  Get kids buckled up.  Someone has to pee.  Unbuckle.  Wait for restroom break.  Re-buckle.  Deep breath.  Drive to store.  Shop.

Using the restroom
BK: Enter bathroom.  Close door.  Do your business.
AK: Sneak away to the bathroom while kids are distracted with an episode of Sesame Street.  Close door and sit down to do your business.  Small child enters bathroom to ask you what you're doing.  Ask child to leave.  Child asks again what you're doing.  Ask child to please leave.  Child asks again what you're doing.  Through gritted teeth, you tell him you're pooping, and to please just give you 60 seconds of privacy ISTHATTOOMUCHTOASK?!  He comes over to take a look in the toilet and check out your progress.  Child claps and says "Yay mommy.  Good job." as you finish your business.  You reach over to flush and child starts screaming that THEY want to flush.  Child flushes toilet and you make mental note to USE THE LOCK ON THE DOOR next time.

Making dinner
BK: Turn on music, pour a glass of wine, cook dinner.
AK: Turn on some music.  Kids ask for Elmo music.  You find Elmo music on your iPhone.  Kids see the phone and ask to look at pictures.  Or play a game.  Or call China.  Shoo kids out of the kitchen, tell them they have a house full of toys and they don't need to be playing with your phone right now. Kids play peacefully for five minutes before WWIII ensues in the living room.  Separate the kids, take one child back to the kitchen with you to "help".  Get out stepping stool.  Child washes hands, splashing water on the floor.  Send child to get cleanup rag.  Continue cooking.  Forget about child until you hear him crying because he ran into the wall while retrieving  the rag.  Kiss the owie.  Remind child to clean up spilled water.  Reach for glass of wine and realize you haven't poured one and there is no wine in the house.  Curses under your breath.  Stick dinner in the oven.  Melt down ensues because child didn't get to put the dinner in the oven. 

Deep breath.  Remind yourself these are the days you'll miss.  Make a mental note to re-stock the wine rack. 


  1. Fabulous and true. I took my two littles to the store to buy one spool of sewing thread. It required a full negotiation on the bike ride home from school, an extended and special snack, a potty break, putting on coats and shoes, getting into the car, negotiating who would be reading the grocery store flyer and when... then shop. If I didn't love it so much, I think I'd give up sewing. I didn't even get to use the thread tonight, too tired. Wonder why!

  2. I hear you, Christine! I'm never in a hurry anymore...because it's just pointless. I just resign myself to the fact that we move at the speed of molasses these days.