8 Things People Never Tell You About Having Kids

Post written by Sherri Kruger. Follow me on Twitter.

The joys of parenthood: the cuddles, the coos and the I love you’s. Watching your little one grow and learn and meet significant milestones like walking, talking, running, reading, singing and dancing.

Kids are fun and parenting is so rewarding there’s no doubt about it.

But I’m sure you’ve heard all of this before.

I know before I had kids this is what I thought everyday was going to be filled with. Of course I thought there would be the occasional temper tantrum but surely that would quickly pass and we would be back to coloring and playing with cars. Well … not quite.

Here are a few things I’ve run into that no one told me about before I had my kids. To those of you who have kids – I hope I’m not alone and to those of you with no kids just yet – you’re welcome.  :)

1. The poop factor. People tell you about it and you know it’s coming but you have no real appreciation for the sheer quantity or frequency with which these little machines can manufacture the stuff. It’s amazing. There were times with our little ones when we just put on a fresh diaper; we left the room only to have the smell “follow” us out. Turns out it’s not the smell that was following us … we were carrying the smell. When you find yourself saying: “No! It can’t be. I just changed him.” rest assured it can be.

2. There is no such thing as being cool. No matter how cool you think you are or how cool you were in high school, when you become a parent that all goes out the window. You will find you will do anything to make your crying baby stop when you’re in line at the grocery store. You’ll sing ABC’s, twinkle-twinkle little star, or old MacDonald in front of a crowd of strangers. You’ll snort like a pig, give raspberries, and speak in a really strange voice. Sometimes it’s fun and you can really get into it, other times it’s just downright embarrassing.

3. You will wonder if you’re a short order cook. In the first few years of parenthood so much of your time is spent in the kitchen it’s ridiculous. There’s cleaning bottles, sippy-cups, spoons, bowls, plates, and bibs. There’s preparing breakfast, midmorning snacks, lunch, mid-afternoon snacks, dinner, and bedtime snacks. Top all of this off with cleaning everything as you go throughout your day,and your kitchen can feel like home base for the first few years.

4. Sleep is for wussies. For every poop story you encounter there will likely be one warning you of the scarcity of sleep. I remember the first night our first son was here, that was a wakeup call. He was finally quiet for a 2 hour period and my husband and I both woke up, looked at each other and commented on how great it felt to get 2 hours of solid sleep. It was that night that we really got what it meant to be sleep deprived.

5. Oh more unsolicited advice please! It seems as soon as you know you’re going to be a parent everyone is a parenting expert. From what to eat to avoid morning sickness, to the amount of exercise you should be doing. From what the only type of diapers to use are to when babies should nap and how long they should be held. Oh yes the advice is plentiful.

6. You will wonder why you ever wanted them to learn to speak. I’m just coming upon this one now. I used to say oh it’ll be so nice when they learn to speak and they can actually tell us what they want. Yeah that part of it is nice. Having the same word barked at you 40 times in a row … now I finally understand a little plaque my mom had hanging in her kitchen that said: “Raising kids is like being pecked to death by chicks”.

7.  You will experience frustration like never before. I had an idea in my head of the kind of parent I would be: laid back, kind, gentle, never raise my voice and perhaps even change my middle name to patience. Riiiight. Try unpacking a dishwasher of clean dishes only to have one child with peanut butter fingers grabbing at every dish as it is removed while the other one is shoving random toys down the heat vent. “Can’t I just finish one thing?” I found myself asking. Nope and likely not for several years.

8. You would do it all over again if given the option. Despite all the stuff nobody tells you about parenthood, when you come to discover all these things for yourself you would do it all over again if you were given the option. With respect to all the points I mentioned above here’s what I’ve learned.

Poop: The poop factor loses its initial effect and becomes but a minor inconvenience. What once made you gag is now suddenly not that bad.

On being cool: It’s not that you’re not cool anymore it’s that the definition has changed. In my opinion there is nothing cooler than a mom or dad who will do anything to see their kids smile or to make them laugh.

Living in the kitchen: It’s fun to be the one to introduce new foods, flavors and textures to your child’s diet. Take the opportunity to get creative have fun feeding your family new, exciting dishes.

Sleep: My thoughts on the sleep deprivation thing: it’s hard in the beginning, you eventually get used to sleeping in 2-3 hour bursts and if you’re lucky your little ones will “all of a sudden” just start sleeping through the night and you’ll wonder what all the fuss was ever about. Heed this warning – I urge you to cherish every bleary eyed mid-night diaper change and feed as they are but a tiny portion of this parenting journey but just so special. Just as the kids start sleeping through the night those dark, quiet cuddles come to an end. Soak it all in.

Unsolicited advice: While yes it can become quite annoying, remember people’s intentions are usually good. Most people really do want to help and believe it or not some people actually do know what they’re talking about.

On our kids learning to speak: It’s really quite amazing how one day the coos and flurries of random noises turn into actual words. It’s only when you’re bombarded by the same word 40 times in 60 seconds that you ask yourself: “Why did I ever wish for them to speak?” Cherish this time as well as they master the language. Take time to document some of what they say because kids do say the darnedest things and you will soon forget.

Frustration: You will get frustrated, lose your cool and perhaps even raise your voice. You’ll feel horrible, out of control and like the worst parent on the planet. In other words, you’ll be completely normal. Kids are kids there’s really no other way to describe it. All of what frustrates us about them is also what we envy the most: spontaneity, curiosity, fearlessness, and candor.

Having kids is my biggest and best accomplishment yet. It is all the wonderful things everyone has to say about it and so much more. If I had my life to live over I would choose to do everything exactly the same because it’s all brought me to where I am now. Is it always a barrel of laughs? No, not in the least.  But all the frustration, sleep deprivation,  unsolicited advice from strangers, hours spent in the kitchen, and being up to my elbows in poop is more than made up for by every smile, high-five, giggle, spontaneous dance move, and hug I ever get.

68 Responses to “8 Things People Never Tell You About Having Kids”

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  1. I loved this post. It is so true about all of it. I will never forget the first couple of nights with my first, and really understanding what sleep deprived was. Of course, it doesn’t help that you get kinda sleep deprived before the baby is born, being miserable those last couple of days which I think must be nature’s way of getting you ready for the birth — you are not as afraid of the birth because you want that baby out! Thanks for the reminder too, that it is a time to cherish, because in the midst of it all, it is easy to forget.

  2. Kelly says:

    I love this post. While these are all things we know as parents I love how you took each item and put the positive twist on it. I have an almost 1 yr old who still doesn’t sleep through the night and I’ve finally started to cherish our night times (now that she isn’t waking every hour or two like she did for 9 months). She is my second, and last, baby and I know the quiet cuddles, her falling asleep in my arms, is fleeting.

  3. T. says:

    Honestly, I never got used to 2-3 hours of sleep, I must say. I can’t physically deal with a lack of sleep so that was the hardest for me. Second screaming/crying tantrums, third the tiring work: cleaning, diapers, etc. But he’s very worth it and I know each difficult hump “will soon pass”. The best parenting advice I got is “they won’t be like this forever” and it will ease. We’re only having one so it makes it extra special: this may be the last time we see him carry a teddy bear on his back, play telephone, or “…”. Good post. :)

  4. Wow, this is so spot-on. :o)
    If I can add one more of my own:

    That breastfeeding might go the way of those beautiful posters and booklets – all calm and serene. OR the first 6 weeks could be the most frustrating or painful experience. (But stick it out and the rewards are worth it.)

  5. Sanyu says:

    Loved this post….thinking of getting into a relationship and then kids….and all that…mainly develop patience…it´s all about that and get and give plenty of love.

  6. Justin says:

    Captures my sentiments exactly! I try to cherish those night time feedings but every now and then I’m just so exhausted I can barely open my eyes. But looking at her cute face is definitely reenergizing :)

  7. Wendy Irene says:

    Great picture!! This whole thing made me laugh A LOT because it is soooooooooooooooo true! Thanks for taking the thoughts out of our heads and writing it down for us to laugh at :-)

  8. Thanks for a realistic look at parenting. I’m not ready for that enormous adventure yet, but it’s always nice to know what’s in store.

  9. Susie says:

    Bit of nostalgia trip for me as mine are now 9 & 6. Everything you say is so true, but things change. I no longer worry about poop and lack of sleep; my kids are now keen to help in the kitchen & have a real passion for food; and we have intelligent conversations about meaningful things. I think unsolicited advice just comes with the whole territory of being a parent, as is frustration. But having done it twice, I have no inclination to do it all over again. However, I do wish anyone about to start on the roller-coaster journey that is parenthood the best of luck – enjoy the ride, it’s worth every penny!

  10. Sara says:

    Love it! I am currently living the dream:) Thanks for the laugh out loud moment!

  11. Lindsey says:

    I’m living the dream too! :) But hey…even with these minor frustrations, the smiles, hugs, and “Mom, I love you!” moments are worth it all.

  12. judebug says:

    Great post! I got many good laughs out of it. Now that my boys are 8 and 10, I can look back on those early days quite fondly and actually know that they were easier than what is on the horizon.

    The one item I would add is “Never say Never”. I remember so many instances before kids saying in my head “I will never do that if I have kids” or “my kids would never do that”, and of course, I’ve “eaten” my words time and time again!

  13. Roblynn says:

    One more bit of “advice” from an old mom. Enjoy that little window of sleep time. I got tons more sleep when they were babies than I do when they are teenagers!

  14. Sherri, don’t forget #9: Kids will beat you up! I never expected my little 10 month old boy to be so strong. His little love nudges leave me black and blue sometimes! It makes me laugh through the stars I sometimes see after an encounter with his head :).

    I wouldn’t change a thing. He’s a precious gift, in spite of how radically he changed my life and upset all my carefully laid plans! Now, I let each day be what it is and don’t worry if stuff doesn’t always get done.

  15. Thanks (I think) for these reminders! We have a 5 year old and a 3 year old, so we are past most of these “issues” for now. However, in July we’ll be able to live through all of it again when Baby #3 joins the family!

  16. Yay! I’m so glad most of you could relate, that it brought us all a little closer together and provided a bit of a laugh :) For those of you who haven’t got kids yet I’m glad you’re not afraid by what I’ve written because having kids really is worth every bit of misery :) I was inspired to write this post when all I had been reading (and writing) were very positive spins on parenting. While it is fun, rewarding and all that good stuff parenting is not always a bed of roses and I know I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg as far as that goes.

    Thank you for all your additional insights and for your good humor in all this.

  17. Thank you for this post. I needed it more than you can imagine this morning. :)

  18. Satakieli says:

    I have a 2 year old boy, i think my husband and I have learned to love the bad times with the good. We can certainly laugh at ourselves a lot more then before we had a child.

  19. Sherri!
    Hang in there, babe!
    My wife and I had four kiddos in a row, about a year and a half apart. They are now all basically tweeners.
    The biggest thing that I noticed was that your stress level goes WAY down with each new child, while the noise level goes way up.
    I learned to chill about the little things. As they get older and you can relate to them less as babies and more as little people, they will begin teaching you a thing or two. That’s when I started growing up!
    Good luck!

  20. Darleene says:

    Love this list. I’m sure every parent can add to it. One thing I’m discovering is that stains and spills no longer matter — just yesterday morning, I went to work in a skirt my baby boy spit up on as I dressed him. Oh well! Then, later that day when I picked him up from daycare — he got milk/spit up in my hair. What can you do? :)

  21. Brandi says:

    This was a great post. As a mom of an 18-month old and a baby on her way any day now, I agree. With everything. I, too, was amazed by the amount of poop, the change in the way I thought I’d parent to how I really parent and the lack of sleep. Thank you for putting it all in one place!

  22. Tim says:

    This is a great post. Yes, everything seems difficult at the time, like the first diaper changes and the lack of sleep. However, as our child progresses through different stages, we find ourselves remembering back to those times and almost wish we could be back in time to really enjoy it more.

  23. I’m 7.5 months pregnant with my first child… and just about to encounter all this first-hand. Wish me luck! :)

  24. Veronica says:

    Good on you for sharing this post. In my experience as a mother of a 13 month old toddler, coping (well or sometimes barely) really depends on expectations. When so few people talk about the “real” stuff of parenting, it doesn’t help the mental preparation. Too many unexpected “surprises” can be very hard to manage. And whilst knowing the theory is never the same as really experiencing things, like sleep deprivation for one, it’s important that people know there are challenges along with the rewards and joys. It just helps to know you’re not the only one when things get a bit tough. There is one other thing I’d add to the list though – “Me time”?? What’s that and where can I buy some?!!”

  25. Chad McCullough says:

    Wonderful! :-)

  26. lunzy says:

    great post! LOVE “Raising kids is like being pecked to death by chicks”. I have tears in my eyes from laughing. :)

  27. Lindsay says:

    Love this post! My favorite (formerly my least favorite) thing about being a parent is how my children act as little mirrors showing me exactly what I need learn in any given moment. Thanks for this!

  28. Anand says:

    Being a father to a 2 and a half year old, I could almost visualize my wife and myself right through the paragraphs of your post. But yes, as you rightly said, when my daughter flashes that smile at us, *ALL* is forgiven. We literally live for that moment.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  29. mauvedeity says:

    I’m the loving (but separated) Dad of an 11-year old and uncle to a 9 year old and 7 month old twins. This made me laugh, and I’ll be sharing this to some of my friends. Well written and well-advised.


  30. Kathleen says:

    I feel like the top 8 things are ALL I ever hear about having kids. I think my facebook newsfeed is a competition for which parents have it worst. Thanks for your rebuttals – I need to hear positive things about having kids right now, as my ovaries are screaming at me to start making babies.

  31. Orion says:

    I never minded changing diapers, and still don’t. I don’t mind embarrassing myself in public for a child. The things that drive me batty are the tantrums and that delling of “Can’t I just get this one thing done!”.

    Parenting, to paraphrase something I read, is a 90/10 activity. 90% of the time it’s not so fun, to put it delicately, but the other 10% makes it all worthwhile.

  32. Ravi says:

    My Wife and I are planning to have our first kid next year. So this post is a nice heads up for me. For me, it would be about cherishing every moment – challenging or otherwise. I am sure it would be one heck of a ride!

  33. Duncan. says:

    I laughed!! Thank you.

  34. KDl says:

    Yes – be very glad when they learn to talk. My kiddo still struggles with speech delay and it has affected so much of her life. I try to remind myself of this when her younger siblings (2 yo twins) start repeating things a bazillion times. I am truly relieved that they are speaking normatively. They will turn into silent and morose teenagers soon enough. For now I try to rejoice in their babbling.

  35. When you have kids, one of the things you realize is how much “selfish and spoiled” you have been. You wake-up to the fact that you cannot always do as you wish. You cannot read your favorite book anytime you wish; sleep as long as you like; go out as much as you want; And that is a hard lesson to learn. But it is a joy to see yourself in this little angel!!

  36. Thank you for this! It’s all so true, and it all made me smile first thing in the morning. :)

  37. When they grow up it’s just a different set of problems. I thought once the kids graduated from college the parenting job was essentially over. I have three children. The oldest, 34 years old, was a home loan consultant. He has moved home and is working in retail until he re-invents himself and finds a new career. The second oldest, 33, joined the Army Reserves two weeks before September 11. He just returned from his second deployment to Iraq. (He managed to squeeze in an MBA in between deployments). He’s sleeping on a futon in the TV room and using our dining room as an office. It’s a good thing he’s looking for an apartment, because my daughter, 28, arrives home June 30 after 1 1/2 years in Paris getting a Masters Degree in Communications. She’ll need the TV room for a while until she finds a job and a place of her own.

  38. Love this post, Sherri. I’ve noted a lot of these already, and my baby’s only 6 months old. The one that really gets me is unsolicited advice … I try to see it positively, but sometimes I’d just love to say, “Keep your nose out!” lol

  39. anandi says:

    This is so true, and would have been a great read before I had our baby, who’ll be 7 months old tomorrow. I try very hard to enjoy each stage, and not rush through and wish for talking/walking/etc. Even at 7 months, I can’t believe how different she is from the first day we brought her home, put her in the crib, and looked at each other and said “now what do we do?”

  40. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for this post. All of these things are so true, and there is no way to really prepare anyone for them.

    Sometimes it helps me to think about if the situation were different. How many parents with babies in the NICU would love to have a sleepless night…due to the crying of their baby, not because of stress and fear.

  41. misty says:

    i love the sign that your mother had in the kitchen that is so funny and true. lol. i couldn’t wait till my first daughter talked and when she finally started it was so cute, well now she never stops talking now. for my youngest i knew better and didn’t want her to start talking…ha ha. she still doesn’t talk as much as her sister but i don’t think anyone talks that much…lol.

  42. Sarah S. says:

    Wow! After a morning of chasing my kids around and saving thier lives multiple times, I really needed this! I texted my husband from the grocery store and told him I’d sooner poke my eyeballs out then take our three preschoolers grocery shopping again! Thank you so much for this post! It will definitely set the tone for the rest of the day.

  43. New mom says:

    a friend sent me your post…I have a 15 month and 4 week old and so needed to read this morning. I walk around with this pissed off look on my face and when I open my mouth it comes out there too. Thanks for the great reminders. I have always wanted to be a parent, but never really knew how hard it was, but wouldn’t give it up for anything now. I just have to remember to see the good. Thanks for the reminder!

  44. Pistolette says:

    The “cool” part made me giggle because it’s so true. Shedding that shallow bs made me such a better person. I appreciate my kids (age 1 and 2) for so many reasons, but that’s a big one. I’m genuinely happier now than I’ve ever been.

  45. Kate says:

    Re: Late Night Wake Ups: I realize the difference between the first and second child … the first one you have no idea when it’s going to stop and you can’t be happier when you get some sleep, you’re in a fog and you let it pass you by… and the second, you *know* it’s only temporary and you actually do cherish those late night snuggles/boob parties even more.

    Great post. :)

  46. Oh, this post made me smile and nod in agreement. Well said and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  47. Oh yes! Especially when you let go of “cool” and get back to the magic of fun like only a kid sees it…

    Don’t forget

    They aren’t you – but sometimes they really are!

    Before you meet your children it’s hard not to have this concept of little copies of you and your partner that you get to raise the right way (not like all those other parents, making mistakes all over the place). Instead, you have the dubious pleasure of getting to know completely separate people with wills of their own…who just happen to repeat things you’ve said to them (or their siblings) in your tone of voice exactly when you don’t want to hear it!

  48. skreader says:

    I remember once chatting with a couple I knew. She was pregnant with their first child, whereas I had two kids, an almost 3 year-old and an 18th month old, I said something along the lines of “Becoming a parent has really taught me a lot about myself. I never knew I was capable of so much *rage*” & I laughed. But I was serious.

    I think it surprised them (expecting to hear something more warm and fuzzy) – but the power of little ones to get you angry, especially when you’re sleep deprived really amazed me. Luckily, I also had the strength to master my emotions, but I had known that already. But the sheer power of it – I expected the love and the joy, but not the other stuff.

  49. Amber says:

    Thank You. As half of a childless couple, I wonder sometimes if its even worth it when you hear horror story after horror story about how horrible this whole parenting thing. What was once something I looked forward to all of a sudden became something I dreaded. Thank you for reminding me about the good things about this journey that is yet to come. Sounds like it might be worth it after all.

  50. Nat says:

    You are so right!!!

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