This Thanksgiving I took some time to compare (and chuckle) about our lives before and after kids and the 3 differences between being newly married vs. married 7 years + 2 kids! When Andrew and I got married in the summer of 2012, we were giddy about being together. We heard over and over from well meaning friends that the first year of marriage would be the hardest and statistics said that if we could survive seven years being married, we had a better chance of staying together for the long haul. But honesty time… we kept looking at each other after each passing anniversary and asking each other, “so when is this supposed to get challenging?” I’m pretty sure if I could tell myself what I know now, I’d say, “just wait till you have kids. But know that every challenge you face as a parent will pale in comparison to the joy that will come with it.”
Difference #1 – We Get Less Sleep
Sleeping in till 10am on Saturdays was one of our favorite things to do as a newly married couple. Nestled in our 350 square foot basement apartment we’d hardly notice that the sun was high in the sky as we took our time waking up. We did however have an “unfavorite” neighbor whom Andrew lovingly dubbed as “Chucklehead” who’s apartment was right above ours. His alarm radio would go off SO LOUD at 6am on the weekends that I could hear every single word spoken or note of the song playing. We’d lay in bed for five or ten minutes while the music blasted till Andrew would go upstairs and pound on his door. Chucklehead never actually came to the door, he’d just finally turn his radio off and then we’d snuggle back down into bed. I’m not sure I should admit to this but one weekend after we’d been living in the apartment a couple of years that we got so fed up with Chucklehead’s alarm going off for an hour that Andrew flipped the breaker off to his apartment for a couple of seconds, killing his power. As it ends up, we found out that Chucklehead was out of town that weekend so he never noticed (probably a good thing!) The difference between being newly married vs. married 7 years + 2 kids is that sleeping in is a thing of the past.
These days it seems, that if our toddler whom we call Little Bear sleeps in, his brother Little Monkey is awake and hungry at 6am! And if Little Monkey sleeps in, its Little Bear that is knocking on his door in an attempt to escape the confines of his room. Now sometimes I wish that I could flip a breaker and we could go back to sleep but we can’t. And so… we sigh and get up with the kids.
Inevitably though, that one on one time with the boys in the morning can be some of the most precious bits of quality time that I get with them all week. So as much as I loved sleeping in, getting up with these two little guys is so, so worth the work.
Difference #2 – Everything is Messier
One tradition that we developed after only a few months in marriage was making big breakfasts on Saturday. We brew extra strong coffee and drink them from our Mr. & Mrs. mugs, pull out our cookbooks and experiment with pancake and waffle recipes, fruit and yogurt combinations, eggs and hash browns… it just depended on what we were in the mood for.
Depending on whether we have a wedding that Saturday or not, now that we have kids we STILL love to make big breakfasts! The difference between being newly married vs. married 7 years + 2 kids is that now its WAY more messy (I mean, more messy than it is when Andrew cooks!) but the things they learn will follow them into adulthood and maybe someday they’ll make big breakfasts with their families too!
For example, this past Saturday before Thanksgiving, Little Bear and I made biscuits together. There’s definitely more flour on the floor and of course the occasional taste test.
Little Bear also REALLY loves keeping things organized and in their place as well as playing in the water so helping wash the dishes is one of his favorite things to do!
You can see my distress when I caught him tasting food he found in the sink! This is real parenting life people!
So while everything is more messy and it is certainly is more work to include the boys in on our daily chores, what better way to teach them and show them that we love them? Its so, so worth the work!
Difference #3 – Everything Takes Longer
When we were first married, we’d go on adventures on Saturdays. We’d make a plan, execute the plan, enjoy the plan and feel accomplished at the end of the day. The difference between being newly married vs. married 7 years + 2 kids is that everything we try to do takes longer. We still like to go on adventures but it usually goes more like this: we make a plan, set out to accomplish plan, get interrupted 6 times, and usually end up amending the plan. Take this last Saturday for example. After getting up early with the kids and making a breakfast of biscuits and eggs with Little Bear we decided to go cut down our Christmas Tree. After driving 30 minutes, we were within 2 minutes of the Christmas Tree farm when Little Bear started shouting from the backseat, “POTTY!” Quickly pulling over and yanking him from the car seat, we set him on his little race car potty in the back of the SUV. Breathing a sigh of relief that we didn’t have an accident, we arrived at the farm only to find that they weren’t open. So we loaded everyone back in the car and drove an hour in the opposite direction to Spring Side Farm in Fabius, NY.
But instead of pursuing the field for the perfect Christmas Tree, we snapped a couple of photos (you know I HAD to get those!) grabbed our tired and hungry kids, and a pre-cut tree and loaded it onto the car.
No sooner had we gotten it tied onto our roof when Little Bear shouted from the backseat once again, “POTTY!” Once he made it onto his race car, we again breathed a sigh of relief.
Unless you’re a parent, you may not believe me when I tell you that five minutes from home Little Bear once again shouts (can you guess?!) “POTTY!” Shaking our heads, Andrew and I looked at each other and pulled over to the side of the road. This time, we did not have success. What DID happen is that he ended up going in his car seat (though he did enjoy his bath when he got home!) So you see, we still have adventures, but EVERYTHING takes so much longer! What should have taken 2 hours ended up taking 6. But who would trade these memories for something more efficient? It is so, so worth the work.
If you ask me when marriage became challenging, I’d probably tell you that I’m still waiting for it to happen. But if you ask me when parenting became challenging, I’d say I’m pretty sure it started the moment Little Bear was born. All the sleepless nights, the mess, and the time it takes to accomplish pretty much everything… I wouldn’t trade it for ANYTHING. The joy we have because of these two precious little boys is something that cannot be put into words. So if you’re newly married or without kids, ENJOY IT! Sleep in, enjoy your neat and tidy home, go on uninterrupted adventures. If you do have kids, ENJOY IT! Embrace the sleepy days, the mess of your house and the interruptions. God has given us each day, each season of our lives for a reason. No matter what season you’re in, you’ll never get it back, so enjoy it!
I’d love to hear from you though… what do you enjoy doing on a lazy Saturday? If you’re a parent, share your tips with me on how you handle the lack of sleep, mess and interruptions!