I think that couples who have chosen not to have children feel that those of us who have kids put them down. I experience this with several people, not least of which is my own sister and her husband. I wouldn’t say that we put them down, but I do know there is a preponderance of the term, “You have no idea…”
Couples without children get tired of hearing that phrase. They think we’re taking legitimacy away from their lives as being less than meaningful and time consuming. I wouldn’t say that their lives are less meaningful at all. In fact, I’d venture to say that some may be more meaningful in their own way. What I will say is that I cannot fathom the lives of those without kids being MORE time consuming than those with kids. Let me explain that in more detail.
Before I had kids I used to think I was tired when I had to pull an all-nighter or even several in a row. Nothing compares to doing this with one or two kids with the added worry that your child’s fever refuses to decrease. You watch them all night in their room because you fear they’re about to have a febrile seizure. No matter how many papers or work you bring home it doesn’t get done during this period because you are so fearful for the lives of these little ones that you can’t concentrate. All that work waits until the next day when you can find someone you trust to keep an eye on said kids for an hour or two at a time. These all-nighters happen at least three or more times during cold season.
Before I had kids, I had a sports car that was a lot of fun to drive and rarely needed to be cleaned inside. Now I have a minivan that I spend more time cleaning than I do driving…and I drive it A LOT.
Before I had kids, I thought our lives were a bit screwed by our schedules being so busy. We watched our personal time (read sex) go down the drain at times, but usually received breaks in the sea of busy to catch up. Not only do those breaks not exist anymore, there is even more issues that take that personal time away. Now the only time we have to “catch up” on sex comes with scheduled vacations…and to be honest, we’re so thrilled to get a bit of us time away from the kids that we end up doing the town and end up, yet again, too tired to have sex.
Before I had kids and I had two dogs, I could get away for impromptu weekends at the drop of a hat. Someone would either watch the dogs or we’d board them. You can’t board kids. What you have to do is interview several people just to find one or two with whom you’d trust watching them for a period of time. Then, you give said people at least $100/day for their time. Add that to the cost of your hotel, dining and entertainment elsewhere and it adds up quickly.
While we’re on the topic of qualified personnel, before I had kids, I could go to dinner with just about anyone, anywhere and at anytime. Not anymore. I have to make sure the sitters can be there first. Then I have to make sure the timing works for the other people. Then I have to pay the sitters for every hour I’m gone. All of this just to have adult time out with friends or family.
Before I had kids I planned a menu for two people. You would think that adding two people to the mix wouldn’t be that hard. Perhaps it wouldn’t be if the kids actually liked and ate what we like to eat. Each one of them are picky in their own way. It is not uncommon for our dinner time to include 3 or more different types of meals…all needing to be prepared by me most often.
Before I had kids, there was laundry for two people. Two adults and two kids put out a lot of laundry per week which means twice the time doing laundry. Also, kids actually put out more laundry since they get a lot dirtier a lot quicker. Loads really should be done during the week. Instead, they are done on Sunday which is affectionately called “laundry DAY”
Before I had kids, I could sleep in on the weekends. I could take a nap when I wanted during the day if I was home. I could go to sleep at any time I wanted at night knowing that I would not be bothered. Now I have little munchkins waking me up no later than 7am in the morning…every day, including weekends. Naps? Completely non-existent. And bedtime now occurs AFTER I get everyone else to sleep and not a second before.
Before I had kids, my leisure time included downtown art galleries, happy hour with friends, day trips to wineries, poetry writing, visits to the dog parks with my dogs, cooking new and interesting recipes, shopping (not just groceries), going to rated R movies and watching TV with the couch all to myself. My leisure time now includes Disney movies, zoos, baby pools on the deck, local parks with playground equipment, Chuck E Cheese, finger painting, play doh, coloring books, yo yos, bubbles, basketball, baseball, football, bicycle riding at about 2 miles per hour, Toys R Us, (the following TV shows sharing the couch with two kids) the Wiggles, Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go, the Backyardigans, Blues Clues, Sesame Street, Mickey Mouse Club House, Handy Manny, Little Einsteins, Thomas the Tank Engine…the list goes on. We DO have a rule in our house. If the TV is on at all during the day, once it turns 6pm it’s Mommy/Daddy time. But, you get the general picture about leisure time.
By now you’re probably thinking, “If it’s all that problematic, why did you have kids?” Well, because as hectic as it is and as many lifestyle changes that had to be made the rewards of having kids for us far outweighs the sacrifices. I know it’s hard to believe. Really. But it’s true. Having my boys has been the best thing that ever happened and they have changed my life in a positive manner.
Here’s the deal…while you couples without kids have very meaningful lives without kids, parents have cornered the market on busy. I guarantee that most, if not all, couples without kids are nowhere as busy and tired as we are every day of the week. When we say “you have no idea…” it’s because you have no frame of reference. You see, we can sympathize and empathize with you because we’ve been in your shoes. You, on the other hand, have not been in ours and have chosen never to do that. And while you think we may be putting you down, we’re not. We know you have a life, but we also know that as much as you may bemoan your busyness, our level of busyness is to the second or third power and we do it largely without complaint.