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It can be easy to focus on the negative aspects of parenthood in detailed, often funny terms. And there's no refuting that raising children can be exhausting, emotionally taxing, expensive, and down right hard. We've earned our right to complain now and then and, in fact, I'd argue that a little gallows humor is helpful.
But often when it comes to describing the joys of parenthood, they are shared in vagaries. You love your children so much you wouldn't want life any other way, which is true, but love isn't the only good thing having kids give you. I thought it would be nice to start the new year with a concrete, though not exhaustive, list of ways that having children has made my life better. It's something I can refer to when I wipe the sleep out of my eyes or wrangle an unhappy toddler into his carseat.
1. I am more creative. I had always enjoyed crafty pursuits, but becoming a mother sent my desire to create into overdrive. Making things for and with my kids has become a true passion of mine. I feel inspired by my kids daily.
2. I watch less TV. Before I had children I never even gave much thought to my screen time. I would pop on the TV and mindlessly watch reruns of "Friends" when I had many more interesting options at my finger tips. With kids in the house, we limit screentime and adult shows don't get watched until after bedtime. TV became a treat instead of a time suck.
3. We spend more time outside. I love being outside, but it often feels as though the adult world is designed to keep you indoors. There's nothing like a pent up kiddo to remind you how much we all need time in the fresh air. Since having kids I spend so much more time just being outside and it is just as good for me as it is for them.
4. I value my free time more. I feel like before I had kids I wasted so much time. It wasn't even that I spent it frivolously, it was that I didn't appreciate it. Now that my free time is limited, I relish it. If I spend that time getting something done I'm more focused and productive. And I am so much more appreciative of a nap or night out with friends.
Now I understand intimately that life doesn't work that way, my right might be your wrong.
5. My husband and I are closer. This isn't the case for everyone, but for us, having children has strengthened our marriage. It didn't make our relationship easier, but it made it deeper and more connected. We've learned so much about ourselves and each other. We've been able to share our strengths and lean on each other. No one knows what it's like to raise our kids like we do.
6. I am more ambitious. Having children lit a fire within me. It made me want to change the world and make my life more meaningful. My kids inspire me to work hard everyday, not just to provide but to improve our lives.
7. My values have deepened. Or perhaps more honestly described, I'm less shallow. I care much less about appearances since having children. It just seems so obvious to me now how many more important things there are to worry about than physical beauty.
8. I am less judgmental. Parenthood has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I used to think there was a right way to do just about anything. Now I understand intimately that life doesn't work that way, my right might be your wrong. Nothing puts a judgmental bitch in her place quite like motherhood.
9. I've learned to be much more flexible. Along with being judgmental I used to be pretty uptight. As a matter of survival, I've learned to let go. My children have taught me to relinquish control, loosen up, have fun, and be silly.
10. My life has more meaning and mountains more love. Having children is not the only way to cultivate meaning in your life, but it is one of the surest. Raising children gives purpose to even the most mundane of days. The pride one feels when their toddler uses the potty or their Kindergartner starts to read is pretty powerful stuff. And, of course, a conversation about the ways kids improve your life really wouldn't be complete without mentioning love. I fall in love with my kids over and over again. Their tight hugs and toothy grins really do brighten my days, so much so that even though parenthood can be incredibly hard, it is also totally worth it.