Nov 19, 2011  •  In Baby, Guest Posts, Motherhood, Parenting

Guest Post: Incorporating a Baby into Your Life

I will be the first to admit that my life has changed tremendously since having kids. Not that I was a party animal before kids, or that J and I regularly took spontaneous trips to Paris, but that I go out A LOT less, and practically every decision I make includes the question “What about the baby?”

And I guess I’m a bit of a wimp in this regard, because ever since Claire was born I have never spent a night away from home (aside from hospital stays), never traveled more than a hour’s radius from home, and much rather prefer the safety of my home to places where I — and perhaps others — will need to make special accommodations for the baby.

But I know that motherhood doesn’t have to be this way. And to present this case is guest author Heather, who recently had a baby of her own and has already done so much with him, fully incorporating him into her life rather than the other way around. As is the case with most parenting decisions, I am sure that there is no “right” way, but I can’t help but wonder how my readers have, or plan to, handle this aspect of parenthood?


Early on in my pregnancy, after the initial excitement and flurry of news-spreading settled down a bit, my husband and I started talking about the enormity of how our lives were going to change. I think it’s a common discussion for new parents who have no idea what to expect when a baby enters their lives. It’s hard not to think that the lifestyle you have grown accustomed to is about to become non-existent and that your days will be filled with nothing but diaper changes and Barney re-runs.

You know why we all think this? Because we are told so from the moment those two little lines show up.

“Enjoy time with your husband now because you’ll never get time alone again.”

“Go out with your friends now because your social life just became non-existent.”

“Never again will you be able to be spontaneous. Kiss last-minute vacations goodbye.”

“Your life is over for the next 18years!”

I’m sure people think it’s helpful to impart their wisdom on new parents, but all this ‘advice’ just scares them more than they already are and in my opinion is sort of a bunch of baloney. You life does not have to be over when you bring a child into the world. Will your life change? Of course. But it doesn’t have to change for the worse!

So many new parents give up everything they love because they think they have to, that it’s what is expected. They revolve their life around their new bundle of joy instead of incorporating their child into the life they have created. From my perspective, this only leads to resentment and alienation from the partner you created this life with.

My husband and I talked about this a lot during my pregnancy, constantly reminding ourselves that we wanted to raise this child as part of our family, not as the ONLY valid member of our family.

I admit, it’s been hard since our little boy arrived to stick to that plan. He is a fussy baby and nurses a lot, so I’ve been scared to venture out into the world with him. It seems so much easier and safer to just stay at home. But when I do get out, it reminds me that our plan was a good one. It’s fun and refreshing to get out — both for the social aspect and simply for the fresh air. If the baby gets fussy or needs to nurse, we find a place to calm and feed him. We have to roll with the punches a little bit more and be much more flexible (schedules are sort of a joke), but we make it work.

In the six weeks our baby has been with us we have taken him shopping, out to eat, on walks with the dog, and even on an overnight trip to a tourist town a couple hours away. And we plan to keep it up —taking him with us when we want to go out, saying ‘yes’ to trips away from home, and continuing our hobbies and activities. We know it will make us stronger as a couple and stronger as a family.

What are your thoughts? Do you make sure to keep your life as close to ‘normal’ as possible or do you think your life must change drastically when you add a member to the family?


About the Author:

Heather Kalinowski is a new mom to an 11 week old baby boy. When she is not changing diapers and cleaning spit-up, she is helping pet owners protect their pets with Trupanion pet insurance. You can also find her at her personal blog at http://familyandfur.com.

7 Responses to “Guest Post: Incorporating a Baby into Your Life”

  1. Since I had my baby 9 months ago, we’ve taken 10 international round-trip flights (four of which were 17+ hours each way) and gone on 5 vacations with the baby (and one mini-vacation without). She’s been to restaurants hundreds of times (for a while we ate out at least once every day), and maybe 20? museums. On an average day, we usually go out twice (between naps). Obviously I am a big believer in getting out of the house.

    I don’t think babies care very much one way or the other (especially when they are very small and pretty unaware of their surroundings in any case). When she was a few months old, she was basically the perfect traveler as she would just sleep in her carrier whenever I went. It is a little bit more tricky now, actually, because she can only nap in her crib (which means I can only be out 12-2 and after 4), and now that she’s mobile, she needs time to exercise and a safe place to do it in.

    For my daughter, traveling is somewhat stressful, especially when there are dramatic time changes: but on the other hand, she very much enjoys seeing new things and new experiences, so it balances out. I think the exposure to novelty helps brain development, and thus compensates for possible lost sleep or potential to catch strange germs.

    So as a parent, I think you should do whatever makes you happy/comfortable, whether that’s staying at home like Geek in Heels or going out a lot like Heather. There’s no reason to be a martyr and stay home if you don’t like it.

  2. I’ve flown alone with baby (who is now 13 months) at least a dozen times. We took a cross-country plane ride with her at 9 months (that was tough, I won’t lie!). We take her out to eat ALL the time. We certainly have adapted our life around her – now we go out to eat at 5:30 instead of 7:30, we spend our Saturdays at the zoo or something instead of at a bar watching the game, and like PP, I can only get out during certain times of the day due to her nap schedule. So, yes, our life has changed drastically, but it’s by no means over. I’m a firm believer in keeping children on their routine and making the stability and comfort of home readily available, but we BOTH go nuts if we don’t get out at least once a day. And, it has gotten to the point where I don’t think twice about taking her out anymore. It used to be such a production, and now I can get us out the door in 15 minutes. I do long for the easy days of “I want to go shopping… now!” but it’s just for a few years and things will change again. :)

  3. Kate:

    In some ways, yes, our life has changed. Things have to be a little less spontaneous and more planned out, but that being said…

    We are living in Europe for a finite amount of time and want to take advantage of it. In the past year since she was born we have traveled with her ALL over France, Austria, and Germany. We are spending Thanksgiving in Istanbul and then Christmas in Rome. In February we are taking off on a 10-day road trip through southern Spain. Sometimes it has been stressful, and sometimes I have cried in frustration over how much harder it is to do all of these things now that we are parents (when she’s awake and inconsolable at 3am in a tiny hotel room, anyone??), but a week after every trip, I have already forgotten the trying parts and only have the great memories.

    I was so discouraged by people telling us that our lives were “over” that I think I made it a point to show everyone that we would keep on truckin’. :)

  4. I know a couple who since having a baby 4 weeks ago have already traveled across country for a vacation as well as an east coast road trip! They are very adventurous!

  5. THANK YOU for this post. I am not yet a parent, but every time we mention that we’re thinking about kids in the next year or two, people will tell us “Wait. Wait as long as you can to have kids” like our lives will be over after we have a child. I understand that things will change, and I am so looking forward to motherhood, but I don’t want my only identity to become “mother” when I give birth. I want to maintain a sense of self despite adding this huge responsibility.

    It’s so refreshing to see that you’re making it work and that you’re determined to raise your son as a part of your life, but not revolving your entire lives around just him–I feel like it’s SO much healthier to address your own needs as individuals and as a couple as he grows since it can only make him stronger and more resilient as an outcome. Not to mention that it’ll give him a great example of how strong families and relationships work!

    Wonderful, wonderful post!

  6. well, in the beginning, when my baby was a newborn and very portable (would eat and sleep anywhere!) we did venture out a lot. i felt wonderful and even proud to be one of those baby-toting mamas out and about, baby in the sling, coffee in left hand, dog leashes in the right.

    but things changed around 8 weeks when she became a lot more aware, and very easily overstimulated by the wonders of the world. she would sleep maybe 20 minutes in the sling or stroller, but that was it. definitely not a restorative nap –> very unhappy baby. that’s when i had to realize that the outside world can be an overwhelming place for a baby (not all babies, but mine for sure.) so, i had to slow down, find contentment at home, and really study baby’s natural rhythms to figure out a (sorta) sleeping and eating routine. i didn’t chain myself to the house, but i did give baby’s schedule priority over mine. then, after 5 or so months, i knew her so well that i could predict when she’d be ok out in public, and when it’d be best to just stick to the house. now at 10 months, i still prioritize her naps and bedtime, but the rest of the time, we are out enjoying the world. a schedule has made both of us sane and happy. not sure how someone would even be able to tune into a schedule if they are constantly moving and grooving.

    just some thoughts! some babies are more portable than others, so this is just my experience. i had to come to terms with it.

  7. Kylie:

    When I had my 1st child, I was very very often out and about all day every day for just about the first year. She was breastfed while walking around IKEA, some of her first foods were the froth off hot chocolates (I don’t drink coffee), and she became very adept at sucking the goodness out of a chip with it’s ends cut off. I loved having her with me wherever I went and still being able to socialise and keep a small amount of “my” pre-child life.

    After about 1 though, she wouldn’t sleep in her pram as well, and by the end of the day I would have a very snarky child on my hands. She started walking and didn’t want to be cooped up as much. She reached for things out the side of the pram, threw her shoes off, etc. etc. etc. Going out with her became less easy, but I still did it frequently. She sampled foods from so many different cultures as I would brave the stares of those disapproving childless people in restaurants that became more and more annoyed at a child who was doing what a child should do – explore their food and their surroundings. I just knew that by the end of the day I would just have to deal with the inevitable issues that come from an over-tired child (children never “wear themselves out”, they just go crazy from being over-tired!).

    Bring on baby 2, and it’s now become very rare to go out for dinner, and the place needs to be chosen with care. It needs to have plastic plates available as no matter how vigilant you are, the sound of a shattering plate just ruins everyone’s dinner. Holidays are taken with a huge amount of planning and the knowledge that you are most probably going to have to deal with tantrums because their favourite toys/clothes/etc. aren’t available, they’re tired of sitting in the car/plane and they’re hungry, yet again, but no, they don’t want a biscuit, they want milk, but milk makes them car sick so you make sure the bucket you bring along specifically is within easy reach and there are 5 changes of clothes and plenty of plastic bags handy.

    While your child is making few demands, it’s certainly do-able to not let your life revolve around them entirely. But there comes a point when you realise that pushing your own life onto a child is just not going to work. A 2 year old boy is NOT going to enjoy spending time browsing in the shops and having a coffee at the cafe. You realise that you are pushing this ideal because you feel you SHOULD have your own life, but you are doing it to the detriment of your child and ultimately yourself (particularly later that night when you have to deal with over-stimulation).

    Having your life run around your child’s schedule and your child’s interest isn’t giving up your life in the end, it’s changing the focus of your life. It becomes less about your own needs and more on those of your child’s. And in the end it can be rewarding to let go of many of the things you used to think were so important. Even if it means your friendships change, you eat out less often and you don’t take the same holidays.

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