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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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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