No. More. Babies.
One day, not so long ago, I looked through tear-filled eyes at the empty high chair resting in the corner of our kitchen and wondered, “Will I ever be okay with just having big kids?”
Sadness dripped down my face. (I told the kids it was the onions.)
But today as I buckled a child (my fourth) into a five-point-harness car seat for the nineteen-millionth time, my thoughts turned joyful. In just two weeks he’ll be old enough to self-buckle into a booster!
This momma is almost baby-free.
Though life on the other side of babies has its challenges, it also teems with possibility. To prepare you, here’s a list of what you’ll (likely) do when you are done having babies:
1. Start Selling Things
At first it will be hard to part with her crib bedding (you searched for months to find the perfect set) or his infant swing (it played the sweetest version of Twinkle, Twinkle). But, once the cash starts coming in you’ll be ready to move on. I sold much of our baby gear on Facebook exchange/trade sites in my town and gave the rest to friends in a “de-clutter the house” frenzy.
Don’t go too crazy though! Remember it’s not a bad idea to hold on to that stroller until your youngest is four (a trip to the zoo without a stroller is tough—you’d have to carry your bag–ouch) and some items, like receiving blankets, can be repurposed into rags for your kids to use when they help you clean! (And, by “help” I mean smear the mirror you just spent ten minutes cleaning, but whatever…)
You will likely have an occasional wee hour waking for a few more years, but soon you’ll remember what it feels like to dream in the REM stage. Instead of semi-sleeping with one ear attached to the monitor, now you’ll be startled (Read: Scared to death) when you wake up to a child leaning over your face.
Note–I’ve heard this time of restful sleep must be savored as it ends abruptly once they become teenagers.
3. Talk More
Weary of lonely days at home with a baby that never says a word? Those are over.
Now you’ll answer everything from the mundane (“What day is it?”) to science phenomena you don’t fully understand (“Mom, why does it rain?”). You’ll talk through doors, while you are on the toilet, in the shower, driving, swimming, exercising, and even brushing your teeth. Some days, you’ll talk so much that your husband will be concerned as to why his formerly chatty wife has no interest in speaking to him.
4. Listen More
Interpreting cries is a tricky art. Listening after the baby stage can be just as tricky. Somedays it’s awesome to hear their personalities come through. Others: it’s mental anguish. Like today, when my five-year-old decided to count all 250 pages of a book, out-loud, just for me. No amount of affirmation of his counting skills could make it stop.
You’ll listen to the explicit details of another kid’s punishment at recess or how to build a Minecraft skyscraper underground (so it’s safe from Creepers). You’ll hear every detail of the funny cartoon they watched at Nana’s and hear siblings argue over the finite rules of a game someone made-up. Ever considered becoming a trial attorney? Doesn’t matter. You’ll soon be one. You’ll depose witnesses daily, listening for clues as to who (really) “done it.”
5. Book a Vacation
I vacationed with babies. I’m not sure I liked it. The stress of getting a baby to stop screaming at 3am in a hotel room (where his toddler siblings were sleeping) shortened my lifespan. Then you pay big money to go to a theme park—only to realize after you get through the gate that your toddlers are terrified of Tigger and if you don’t make it back to that hotel by naptime, you will suffer all. evening. long.
Post-baby days, vacations get fun. You still can’t fully relax at the pool (Mom=Lifegaurd) and you may still have to wipe extra bottoms, but when your children actually enjoy the time away and have fun with you, vacations get awesome.
6. Clean Out Your Closet
While you may not want to get rid of all of your maternity clothes (my stretchy band shorts come in handy when I’ve overdosed on gelato), most will need to go. Stat. Give them to a friend who’s expecting or sell them at a local consignment shop or swap sale. Take the cash and go buy some cute new items that aren’t nursing, spit-up, or messy-toddler-fingers friendly. Buy some new jewelry too, it is now safe to wear dangling earrings and necklaces again.
7. Spend More
Get those cute accessories fast, because otherwise you won’t have the money. In fact, you may never have a full wallet again. You thought babies were expensive? Just wait until they need a “few” dollars for that t-shirt at school, a “few hundred” dollars for summer camp, or a “few thousand” towards their first car. Now, when you eat at a restaurant you have to actually order them a meal. (Those add up!) Sports teams? Music lessons? School fundraisers? Emergency room visits? Pad that wallet because the hits are coming. You thought that $40 baby play mat was expensive? Google “Lego Sets” and you’ll soon hear the cash drain from your bank account.
Speaking of bank accounts, I hope it’s healthy because once you have big kids, you’ll likely want to move. Decades ago, people lived in much smaller spaces. (I know–I grew up sharing one bathroom with my entire family!) But now there’s one compelling reason why you may want to relocate when your children hit the school years: Bad Weather Days.
With a baby, the weather doesn’t affect your schedule that much. But with older children, you need a place for them to go to give you that quiet time (see numbers three and four above). You need them to run around in some other space of the house chasing each other with Nerf swords instead of circling your kitchen island while you make dinner and explain Pinterest to your mother over the phone. You also need designated spaces for their big kid shoes and coats, books and backpacks, light sabers and Legos. Especially the Legos.
If you are still in the trenches of the baby days, I hope you’ll commit this list to memory. Or, if that’s too much, just relax and enjoy them knowing every stage of parenting has both joy and struggle. I’ll tell you from experience, though I loved having a house full of babies, this next stage of parenting isn’t half bad.