5 ways parenting has changed my reactions
Mum Fiona Roberton shares five ways she reacts to things now as a parent, as opposed to when she was child-free!
I have lowered my standards
As a mother I have had food thrown at me, been spewed on, and regularly get toothpaste on my clothes as my daughter likes to plant her face into my shoulder after I brush her teeth. And I have learnt the hard way that it is never a good idea to take my daughter’s nappy off until I am completely ready to have a shower with her. While I used to wash stained clothes straight away, I now find myself thinking such things as, “well, it’s just a little wee, perhaps I can still wear it tomorrow”.
I’m less bothered by mess
I am known for being quite a tidy person, and my husband is tidy too. But when you have a toddler, no matter how strong the desire might be to have a tidy house, you get to the point where something has to give. I’d heard about the container drawer being a draw card for young children, but now I know the reality of containers and lids being sprawled across my kitchen floor. Then there are the CDs from the CD rack on the lounge floor, the books pulled out of the bookcase, toys everywhere and so it goes on. I can either be constantly tidying up or I can choose to let go and leave it until the end of the day (while trying not to trip on something whilst making dinner).
I take things more as they come
I think because life as a first time parent causes you to learn to cope with so many new demands, when unanticipated events come up in the rest of your life you learn to adapt to them more easily. After resigning from my job following a period of parental leave, I went into work for what I thought was going to be a small team farewell. Instead, a large farewell had been arranged in the staff kitchen area and I found myself in the position of giving an unprepared speech while carrying a baby on my hip. In the past this type of surprise might have thrown me, but I found myself taking it in my stride and really enjoying the occasion.
I enjoy other people’s children
Before having a child I was never that good at taking an interest in other people’s children (apart from the ones that were related to me). I was bad at remembering their names, and in large group settings such as church even which children belonged to which family. Now I have a child, I’ve felt much more interested in the children around me, and want to relate to them. I love holding someone’s baby to give a parent a breather, and I am fascinated by the developmental milestones being reached by children of a similar age to mine. Equally I have experienced how nice it is to have other people taking an interest in my child.
I have more empathy now
When I hear of a family going through a difficult time, whether it’s the parents of a newborn, a solo mum, or a family of five, I have a great deal more empathy and desire to help than I ever did previously. It’s often commented in parenting circles that the people who tend to offer the most help to families are those with busy family lives themselves. I know I think back to times prior to having a child when I could have done more to help friends and family during their early stages of caring for children. However it seems that, for many of us, it is only by going through the experience ourselves that we learn both how we might really be of help to others and how valuable that help can be. For myself, it is also a way I feel I can give back for all the help that we received in those early stages.