Long ago, before I had kids, I was a judgmental little shit.
I can’t tell you how many times I looked at a bedraggled mom with a sloppy ponytail, clad in sweatpants covered in Cheeto dust handprints, and made a snide comment. Something like, “Wow, she really stopped caring once she had kids, didn’t she?”
Oh, how the tides have shifted.
After I had Peanut, I immediately recognized my error. I falsely assumed that these women had as much preparation time as ever, but were spending it fawning over their spawn instead of themselves.
When you have a child, your prep time gets decimated. If the clock is ticking, and you’ve got to be somewhere, something in your routine’s got to give, and it won’t be the baby’s poopy diaper. Anyone who isn’t a moron will tend to that first.
What’s a mom to do? Sacrifice a small piece of her own prep routine, of course. Because that’s what we moms do for our kids.
In the spirit of sacrifice, I’ve been thinking about the things I willingly gave up, or cut out of the routine, when I had my first child—and what got the axe two years later when Squeak came along.
After Baby #1, I Gave Up…
This actually happened during my first pregnancy. They became so uncomfortable that one day I just put on normal britches and never looked back. Pantylines be damned. A few times I’ve attempted to wear them again, for the sake of a certain dress or pair of foxy pants. I make it about 90 seconds before I tear them off and return them to their home in the dark corners of my underwear drawer. I don’t know how I managed to wear them every day for a decade. Blech.
Never Leaving the House without Makeup
In the years B.K. (before kids), I always threw on a bit of foundation, blush, and mascara—at a minimum—when I was leaving the house, even for a quick run to the grocery. When Peanut joined our family, I learned what a shit-show it can be to get out of the damn house with baby in tow. Newborns need to eat every 90 minutes. As a newbie nurser, I didn’t want to have to feed out in public, so as soon as I was done feeding her, I’d glance in the mirror, call it good sans makeup, and sprint to the car like I was on the Amazing Race.
Strangely, my self-esteem didn’t take a hit. Either I got better looking or my standard for physical appearance softened (fairly certain it’s the latter; only George Clooney and Helen Mirren get better looking with age). Perhaps other women think I look like crap, but very quickly I realized that I didn’t—and still don’t—care.
Showering on Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays… don’t judge)
My older sister has been teased a lot thanks to her “No Showers on Sundays” rule. I teased her too, but after Kiddo #1, I started skipping Saturday showers too. I couldn’t get motivated to wash up, especially when I was home alone with the kids, with no plans to go anywhere important. What’s the point? My babies think I’m awesome no matter what I look like.
My Gym Membership / Organized Sports
I have about three hours a day that I’m not working. Do I hit the gym, or actually spend some time with my children and eat dinner?
Yeah, this was not a hard decision for me. I was essentially setting fire to $45 a month, and I am fairly certain I bankrolled the gym owner’s Mercedes and five-bedroom house. I also stopped playing slow-pitch softball in summer and cut from two nights of volleyball a week down to just one. Same reason—I can’t really justify the time away from my kids, especially when the older I get, the more I suck. It’s not like I’m doing the team any favors by showing up.
Kudos to those of you who can get up in the morning and work out before the day begins. My body doesn’t do physical exertion before 10am. I’ll get back on the horse eventually. Just not today or any day soon.
Babies love to pull on earrings and necklaces, so both got nixed pretty quickly. My wedding ring has a high setting, which tended to scratch and piss off the baby, so I’ve been going ring-less since Peanut was born. Even if it didn’t scratch the kids, all the breastfeeding has made my hands scrawny, so my ring doesn’t even stay on anymore. But it sure looks pretty sitting in my jewelry box! *eye roll*
After Baby #2, I Gave Up…
This went bye-bye during my second pregnancy. I was so tired. Instead of putting on liquid foundation in the morning, I traded those 3 minutes for precious sleep. I started using powder foundation instead—much faster. Is it as good as the liquid stuff for covering my ever-worsening uneven skin tone? Nah, probably not.
Do I care? Negative, ghost rider. See above: ugly or not, I still think I look good. 🙂
Brushing My Teeth Before Leaving the House (sometimes)
I’m not talking about going to work without brushing my teeth. That’s gross.
But I will admit to Sunday morning donut runs with my husband and kiddos without brushing. Occasionally even Target, or the grocery store. It’s not a frequent thing. Sometimes you just gotta get your shit done. But before kids it’s something I would never, ever have fathomed.
Trying On Clothes Before I Buy Them
If you have some secret to trying on clothes while shopping with kids, please clue me in. My experiences regularly devolve into one or both kids making a hasty escape under the fitting room door, and always while I am standing in a bra and underwear, trying to figure out which criminal fine would be less: indecent exposure (if I go after them) or child endangerment (if I don’t and they wander into traffic).
I’ve developed a couple of strategies to handle this. One is StitchFix, when I feel like I have $55 to burn on a shirt (which usually induces major spending guilt). A second strategy: I shop online at tried-and-true stores, and order enough to get free shipping. I try it all on when the kids are in bed, and ship back the rejects. Sometimes I just throw stuff in the cart at Target or Kohl’s, and bring it back if it doesn’t fit. Boo-yah, new clothes without the dressing room nightmare!
A Work Wardrobe That Doesn’t Include Boogers/Snot
It’s part of my work uniform now: my left shoulder will inevitably have snot or boogers on it when I get to work. I’ve stopped checking. It is just going to be there, and the sooner we all accept it, the better. Just think of it as a little piece of love that comes with me to the office.
Maybe other moms are rockstar enough to wear heels to work after two kids, but I am not. Perhaps it was pregnancy, and not kids, that caused my affinity for heels to wither away and become something more akin to contempt. Maybe it was maternity clothes, with their amazing elastic waists, that made me realize I was so much happier when I was comfortable. Either way, my heels are napping peacefully at the back of my closet, and they’ll be staying there, thankyouverymuch. They’re probably having a party with the thong underwear.
My Straightening Iron
This particular implement got the boot not just because it sucks up time during the shit-show known as “Getting Ready For Work in the Morning,” but also because it became a deadly weapon once I had a mobile toddler. I could easily see Peanut pulling the sizzling-hot straightener down onto her perfect little face, marring it forever with burn marks.
The actual act of straightening my hair isn’t all that time-consuming—maybe four or five minutes. But when you compare it to sleeping, it just doesn’t come out on top.
Washing My Hair Every Other Day
I’ve always been a shampoo-every-other-day girl. But after two kids, when the mornings are total chaos, I sometimes stretch it to a third day during the week. Especially when I make a little too much use of the Snooze button.
This sounds silly, but between toddling toddlers who are just itching to pull a plant stand over on their little heads, and a cat who eats anything green, I’ve run out of hiding places. I’m down to a Christmas cactus and one pothos, which is barely hanging on, thanks to my idiot cat.
Browsing at the Library
This is what a library visit looks like after two kids. (1) Park car. (2) Wrestle kids out of car seats, escort into library. (3) Remove Kid #2’s mouth from the guinea pig enclosure. (4) Carry Kid #2 toward Adult Fiction section; select an interesting-looking book, begin reading the jacket. (5) Put book down, locate absconded Kid #1. (6) Return to book, continue reading jacket, drop book when Kid #2 gets squirmy. (7) Put book down, locate re-absconded Kid #1. (8) Return to spot where book was abandoned to find it’s been reshelved by Helpful Librarian. (9) Locate Kid #1, scoop up Kid #2, grab two books off shelf, sprint for the checkout counter. (10) Leave library with what appears to be Computer Programming for Dummies and Mein Kampf. (11) Face. Palm.
There just isn’t time to do this properly anymore. I grab books from the ‘New’ section, judging them completely by their covers. Yeah, I know you’re not supposed to do that. But I do it anyway. Sometimes they suck, but not always.
What My Mom Friends Gave Up After Kids…
I did a mommy poll and asked a group of local moms what they gave up, more or less willingly, when they had kids. The answers were pretty funny. Some of the greatest hits:
Shaving Their Legs Regularly
Let’s get real. It’s an extra ten minutes that moms just don’t have.
I got really lucky in this regard. Not genetically — good god, no. I’m a Sasquatch with crazy-dense hair follicles and leg hair that grows sickeningly fast. I’d have the same amount of regrowth 5 hours after shaving that my friends had after 3 days. Then I was introduced to a dude who owned a laser hair removal clinic. He offered me a bargain and after 3 years of treatments every 10 weeks, I’m now able to shave my legs about twice a year. TWICE. A. YEAR. All that’s left are the fine blonde hairs, for the most part. It’s the best $1,600 I ever spent (financed interest-free!). Of course, I spent that money before I got married and way before I had kids, so there wasn’t the guilt I would feel if I did this today. I’d love to get my bikini line and armpits done, but I can’t justify the cost when daycare costs more than my mortgage. Womp womp.
Hot Beverages… and Cold Beverages. Basically Any Beverage That’s Not Room Temperature
Yeah, that one is totally legit. I don’t drink coffee, but on the rare occasion I get a Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks, the hot is gone before I get halfway through it. Sigh.
And Some Other Stuff The Moms Said… (in no particular order)
Sleeping in. Going to movies whenever I want. Sleeping alone with my husband. Scented laundry detergent (sensitive kid skin means no fragrance). Bathroom privacy (this one was really popular). A clean car. Eating anywhere other than the food court. Silence. Taking a bath alone. All-day TV/movie binges. Adult TV. Television period. Sleeping in. Eating dinner after 5:30pm. Long hot showers. Eating lunch sitting down. Reading alone. Quick trips to the store. Listening to what I want to in the car. Perfume. Shopping in Target alone. Going anywhere in the afternoon (thanks, naptime, you wench). Time with friends. Time alone. Décor on low tables. Going to three or more places on a trip to run errands. Eyebrow waxes. Manicures. Cooking anything remotely spicy or interesting. Spontaneous ‘anywhere sex.’ Leaving sharp objects anywhere I want. An uninterrupted conversation with my spouse. Name brand clothes. Going out to eat.
Truthfully, many of these things don’t appear to have been given up willingly. More like begrudgingly. It comes with the territory.
I’ve found that cutting out a few things actually made me happier (keeping house plants alive was just one more thing I was doing badly, causing me to feel guilty).
If you’re a mom-to-be, don’t be scared. If something’s really important, you’ll find a way to hang onto it. Nobody’s going to pry your straightening iron from your cold dead hands. Just know that having kids means your time becomes currency, and you’ll be making a hundred tiny decisions every day about how to spend your time.
The things you choose to let go of when you become a mom will undoubtedly surprise you. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you. 🙂