Becoming a parent changes so many things, it is hard to just go about life like everything is the same. But just because so many dynamics of your life have changed doesn’t mean that you’re in a place where you want to just lose all of your friendships. This list is like a cheat sheet saying, “I really still want to be friends so these are the main things that you should know about the way my life is set up at this point.” Our children take on this new role and fill so much space in our lives but we still need the people that knew us before; because inside we still are those people and it’s nice to be reminded.
1. PLANS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE
When you are a parent truly there is no plan that is 100% concrete. Everything is subject to change because literally anything could happen in a day. Seriously people, we don’t make this crap up to avoid leaving the house. I do not care how long we have had this plan or how big this plan is, my kid could get sick and need me. Or my kid could get into something and put me in a panic on if they are poisoned or not. Or even something as simple as maybe I am ready to leave the house and on the last goodbye I get puked on and maybe I could just quickly change but maybe that threw me into an adult tantrum because that is just the story of my life right now. Please don’t feel like you are being dodged that is not the case. And maybe even take the pressure off of them, ask them if they would like to reschedule when they are texting you the horror story of their day, that way they don't have to always be the one and add guilt onto their plate of crazy.
2. TELL ME WHEN YOU’RE SICK
If we have plans together and you are sick or just have symptoms, please let me know because you may feel up to going out but I need to weigh the risk of if I want to catch what you have and then pass it on to my kid. Because as an adult catching something is one thing but when you pass it to your kid, that could potentially mean that I am not sleeping for a week and I have to fit the bill for a few co-pays and prescriptions. Let me just tell you that Taco Tuesday and an adult conversation is not worth all that. This rule especially applies if you are going to be around my kid. I need to know what you think is going on behind that sniffle. This also avoids me treating you like the plague because I don’t know what you got.
3. BEING AN ADULT DOESN’T MAKE YOU THE BOSS
If I am present then please leave bossing around my child up to me. The last thing a parent needs is to have multiple voices instructing their child because that does not help. Now if we happen to be looking away and our child is about to electrocute themselves, by all means speak up. But correction in general, please leave it to me. There are adults in my family that have permission to instruct or correct my child but that is because they are family. When you are a friend and you also don’t have children of your own that is pretty sensitive.
THE WORST is when parents are at stores and their kids are doing something questionable and instead of the store employee asking me to get my kid under control (politely), they begin talking to my kid in front of me. That is one way to take the proper right out of me and I will go all the way there with you. This may just be my family but I seriously don’t need random strangers telling my kid what to do.
4. DON’T CARE? NEITHER DO I!
There is one thing that will pretty much ensure that a pre-children relationship fails and that is when the party without kids shows no interest in your child. They don’t ever express a desire to see your child and even worse they don’t ever ask you about them. I think this is easy to forgive in the beginning because it is all so new to everyone but after a while it becomes increasingly noticeable. If you are the person that is always waiting on an invitation, it just really looks like you don’t care. And although there are a lot of other still important things in my life, my child takes the cake. So if you don’t care and are not interested, I will definitely lose interest in you.
5. LET’S STAY IN
Try not to ask us to eat out all of the time. Eating out before kids meant you got to fully relax and enjoy your meal while someone else prepared it and served it to you. But once you have kids and more specifically a restless toddler, eating out means trying to get your child to stay still beyond their 5 minute barrier. Juggling cheap crayons and the judgmental glances of people who believe you should have better control is one of the most stressful things for parents to endure. Maybe offer to come by, order take out, because then we can enjoy a meal together in the comfort of a home that we have pretty much accepted will eventually be destroyed by our child.
6. TREAD EASY ON SUGGESTING A BABYSITTER
This one is hard. I think parents should be made aware if an event is not kid friendly so they can themselves choose to get a baby sitter or bow out. But what is never really fun is for someone who doesn’t have kids to always ask you or tell you to get a babysitter. It’s time away from your child that people just assume is welcome and it is also an expense that they are not thinking about. So just be mindful of this. We don’t always need a break, sometimes sitting around and just watching our kid is the only entertainment we need so maybe come and enjoy that with us.
7. PETS AND KIDS ARE DIFFERENT
I understand that some people have chosen to get pets, maybe because they are not ready for kids yet or maybe in their season of trying they wanted to get a pet to love and take care of. And when don’t yet have kids, your pets are your kids. But when you do have kids there is an obvious and immediate distinction. So one thing that is difficult to bear is to talk to your friends about taking care of your child, the daily demands and how it has changed their life. Then for the friend to immediately parallel it to them taking care of their dog. Or if I am showing you pictures of the child that I birthed from my very body, please just wait a few moments until you pivot to showing me pictures of your animal doing something cute. It is just a tad demeaning to my human child.
8. NO HIGH TOPS PLEASE
If you do end up convincing me to brave the great wide public environment of dining out, consider one thing that will make the entire experience much more pleasant. Do not choose a high top for us to sit at with our child. I would like to enjoy this moment with you, but the entire time all that I will be concerned about is making sure my child doesn’t plummet to their death. That may seem dramatic to you, but most restaurant floors are concrete.
9. NO ADVICE NECESSARY
I know that before you have kids you think you have a pretty good idea of the type of parent that you are going to be and the type of child you will raise. And there are a lot of things if you truly believe in them, you can implement them when you do have kids and we will see how that goes. BUT please do not give me parenting advice by telling me how you are going to do things differently when you become a parent. Chances are that everything changes and nothing is like you thought it would be. Not only is it embarrassing when your child literally runs your life, it’s embarrassing to remember the things you said you would never do. Trust me, I have been there.
10. I’M LISTENING I PROMISE
When we are together and I am juggling our conversation and my child, yes I may seem a little more distracted than in the past before I had kids and I was all ears. I really do care and I really am listening, I am also just making sure that my tiny human 1) Stays alive and 2) Doesn’t sneak off and burn down my home. It may seem like I am failing as a parent to not be teaching my children that they are to be seen and not heard but I didn’t have them to ignore them. If you really need my undivided attention then we will have to figure out a time to make that happen but if not just try and be patient with me. I am trying to learn to balance two people that I love very much. If i didn’t love you, I wouldn’t even try.
11. ASK ABOUT ME
This is one thing that I know I have had several new mothers tell me, that they had a lot of people offering to help, people bringing food and gifts and coming to see the baby. But very few people making sure that they check in on the new mom. Becoming a parent is a huge life adjustment and it can be overwhelming to say the least and most days it’s a complete guessing game. So when you think about us, ask how we are doing, how we are adjusting and maybe if there is anything that you can do to help. Even someone asking would help us to not feel alone and not think that we have lost everyone because of this change.
12. SPONTANEOUS DAYS ARE DONE
To people without kids this probably sounds sad, and I get that this is one of the things that scares most people who are thinking about children. That doesn’t mean adventure is over and there is no more fun and happiness, it just means that adventure must be more of a planned event. You can’t just get up and go anymore. For the small things, like going to get gas or going to the store because you either have to take your child or you have to assign someone to stay with baby. And especially not for the big things like nights out, or vacations. Whether it is an opportunity where I can bring my child or not, I need to know in advance. I need to either make plans for my child to have care, or I need to be able to wrap my mind around what this adventure looks like when I bring my child. It sounds complicated and it kind of is, but it is not hard it just takes time. So keep that in mind if you want me to accompany you to something, let me know as far in advance as possible so that I can take care of all the things I need to take care of in advance.
13. DON’T NOT INVITE ME THOUGH
If we are really close and we did a lot together and then all of a sudden there is this huge life change for me but not for you, I understand that is inconvenient for you. I have no desire to “cramp your style” And I know that you still have the ability to make last minute plans and live your life and I love that. So when you know it’s probably not going to work out for me to join you in something just let me know I am the person you thought of, or even invite me and give me the opportunity because it just may work out. But becoming a parent can be a lonely thing, so help me out and still show me that I have a place in your life. I need that because FOMO is even more real in parenthood.
14. ASK ME FIRST
This falls in line with a few things…
Before you post pictures or videos of my child
Before you nickname my child
Before you give my child something (gift or food/drink)
15. YOUR IN OR YOUR OUT
Some people may not be able to relate to this but I grew up with a Dad that was barely in and very much out of my life. I know what that did to my little heart and I absolutely do not want that for my daughter. To me, I see it as any person that comes in and decides to build a relationship with my child, one thing they must know is that you are either in or you are out. If you don’t think you can be around for the long haul or more importantly if you don’t think you can be consistent (no matter how frequent that consistency is) then you have to let me know. I know that things change and people change and I cannot shield my child from everything but still If we can prevent it i’d like to, so if you don’t think you can be a long term part of my child's life then I would rather rip the bandaid now.