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How My Life Has Changed After Having Children (But It’s Still Worth It)

How My Life Has Changed After Having Children (But It’s Still Worth It)

While awaiting the birth of your baby, there’s so much to do. You avoid certain foods, take special vitamins, and watch your body morph as it grows this miracle inside. You set up a nursery, buy everything you think you’ll need, and find yourself becoming weepy at sappy commercials or songs. Change is inevitable, but just wait, it doesn’t stop there.

The minute your precious bundle is laid in your arms, your heart explodes exponentially. You didn’t know you could love someone so much. Your whole focus now is on this little human being for which you are responsible in every single way. So naturally, you’ll change. Your routine will change. Your home will change. Heck, maybe even the vehicle you drive has changed. Many of these changes are welcome, some are funny. Others, well, to be honest, are not so welcome — sleep deprivation sucks. But all those changes are worth it when tasked with the joy and responsibility of raising a child. Some changes are obvious, some are not, but here are a few you might relate to.

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Sleep

Oh precious sleep, how we moms miss you. Whether it’s the middle of the night feedings and diaper changes to a sick toddler to a wee one with nightmares, the days of getting a solid night’s sleep disappear for awhile. Naps become your best friend. Some moms are fortunate to have babies who sleep through the night quite well, but to them I say, wait until they’re teenagers and you’re up late waiting for them to make it home safely and by curfew. You will not sleep soundly for days on end until you’re an empty-nester.

Food

When you’re pregnant, you remove some foods from your diet that can be harmful to a developing baby or give you heartburn. If you’re nursing, you avoid certain foods, too. But one day, you’ll catch yourself hiding in the closet, eating ice cream out of the carton. You want to set good, healthy eating examples for your kids, but at that moment, you really just want ice cream!

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Work

Some moms are blessed to stay home with their children and forego the working world for a while. Some moms love their jobs and happily return after maternity leave, while others must work due to their family’s financial situation. No matter what your work situation, it’s definitely changed from the pre-baby years.

If you’re at home during the day, you may find yourself one day loving every second of watching your child grow up and hit milestones. The next day, you’re begging your toddler to please take a nap so mommy can have a break. If you’re at work, there are mornings where you just can’t get enough goodbye hugs and smooches, then you drive to work sad to be leaving your little one behind. Other days, you may find yourself sprinting out the door gleefully, shouting goodbye to your child because you’re about to get some relaxing quiet time in the car on the commute to work.

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Emotions

You will feel like you’ve won the lottery when your baby takes his or her first real bite of food and doesn’t thrust it back out. You’ll cheer like a maniac when your baby takes his or her first steps. You just might be the loudest person in the stands when your preschooler starts playing sports or dancing or whatever activity he or she is trying. You vow that your child is the smartest on the planet when he or she phonetically sounds out a word, then reads a book, then scores an A on a school test, then lands a great score on the ACT or SAT in high school.

Your emotions will run high, but they’ll also run low. When you discover your child isn’t invited with other kids to a party, it will break your heart to see your child so sad. When your child tries out for a team or other activity and isn’t selected, the hug of solace you share tugs at your heartstrings. Every high and low your kid experiences, you will feel a similar way. It’s part of being a parent and wearing your heart on your sleeve. So applaud the positives, be supportive through the negatives, and let your child know that you always have his or her back.

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Success

Parenting successes can be quite comical, to be honest. In those first few days of having a newborn at home, if you are able to take a shower, that’s a big success. But simply knowing that your child is happy, loved, fed, clothed, has friends, interests, and loves life means you’ve succeeded. Don’t get hung up on the little things. There will always be parents who want to parade what they see as parenting successes in front of you. Don’t fall for it. Encourage your child to pursue his or her dreams, whatever age they are, and always been their number one fan. Teach them that success comes with hard work and won’t be handed to them.

Outlook On Life

Becoming a parent also means you’re well aware of the dangers that lurk around your child. You teach them “stranger danger,” how to drive safely, wear a bike helmet, wear a seatbelt, don’t text and drive, don’t drink and drive — the list never ends. But you also simultaneously develop a positive outlook on life in that you see what a wonderful contribution your child will make in this world once they grow up under your tutelage and leave the nest.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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