Life is mostly fun and games when you’re young. However, once you become an adult, you get piled on with responsibilities and commitments. Adults now have to settle things like monthly mortgages on top of trying to raise a kid!
IRL talked to a few adults to find out how life has changed for them after having children.
Dynamics between partners will change, from lovey-dovey during the dating stage, to a more serious and (potentially) conflict-ridden phase after having kids
Dina, 45, says her husband used to be a helpful person and a gentleman before they got married and had kids. He would volunteer to clean up the apartment, help out with the cooking, and he did the laundry too.
However, once they had kids, he expected her to do most of the motherly duties, such as putting the babies to sleep, changing the babies’ diapers, and calming the babies down when they cry.
She doesn’t blame him entirely for expecting her to do those things. After all, it’s part of his culture (she’s Malay while he’s Indian-Muslim). Even his parents practice traditional male and female roles (male earning the income while female does the cooking), so it’s understandable that he’d follow in their footsteps.
However, times have changed. Since they both contribute to the household income, they should also divide the tasks and responsibilities equally too!
Dina says it wasn’t easy to change his mindset at first. However, after talking to him they both chipped in with the work, although she still does the lion’s share of it.
When asked for her advice on how to stop one parent from doing most, if not all of the work of being a parent, she says a clear distinction needs to be made early on so it doesn’t become an expectation.
For example, one shouldn’t form a habit where the mother is expected to wake up when the baby cries at night. Instead, they both should rotate accordingly, since both have to wake up early in the morning. Dividing the roles equally is also important to maintain a healthy marriage, according to Dina.
Priorities change, so one can only focus on two or three areas of his life, such as family and career instead of trying to juggle so many tasks together
Andrew, 31, just had a little baby aged two after being married for four years. Before having a kid, he used to work out regularly at the gym, lifting weights at least three to four times a week – a routine he developed since his early 20s.
However, his gym routine fell off after the arrival of his new kid. Finding the balance between working, having a baby, and working out in the gym has been challenging. To Andrew, although he can still fit in all three components into his schedule, it’ll only cause deterioration in all three areas instead of excelling in it.
As someone who’s a firm believer in doing things as best he can, he decided to sacrifice doing his four-times-per-week workouts and completely devote his time to improve his career and family.
Sleep and sex life is a luxury
Thanabalan, 41, have three kids, aged 3, 8, and 11 respectively. He anticipated that having kids would mean a change in his life, but he was surprised at how much his night routine was affected. Specifically, he was surprised at how much they keep him and his wife up at night.
Whether it’s because they have nightmares in the middle of the night, or because they’re hungry, his children will come running to him and interrupt his sleep.
He says children being children, they won’t care about how important your sleep is and how the lack of it will affect you. He’s discovered that sleep-deprivation affects work (like that important presentation you need to make the next day), but there’s nothing much you can do except to cope with it.
These days, having a seven-hour sleep is a rare reward for him, since it means none of his children had problems during the night.
Aside from his sleeping patterns, his sex life was affected too. Now, he and his wife can only be intimate when they send their children over to their parents’ house. They try to do this fortnightly, so they can have a romantic night together.
Thanabalan added that having less sleep and sex is a big change compared to the time before they had children. However, he thinks having kids is a trade-off – as parents, they get to enjoy raising a family and spending time with them. It’s a worthy exchange for the sacrifices they’ve had to make.
Marriage and children become a fulltime job
Noraishah, 66, has been married since she was 28. She had her first kid at 30.
When she was single, she had many suitors, which she enjoyed and was proud of at the time. However, once she settled down and had children, she was taken aback by her duties as a wife and mother. It was a far cry from the days when she was single.
Coming to terms with her new responsibilities wasn’t easy. Balancing family and her career as a nurse was challenging, as she had to work in shifts. It was a taxing lifestyle, and dealing with that on top of having a poor marriage (due to falling out of love and being bored with the relationship) made raising kids a chore.
Noraishah feels she’s not alone in this. Talking to some of her friends in her age group, she realised that raising a family with kids is considered a chore by them as well. Some even got divorced once their kids grew up, because they felt estranged from their partners.
When asked for advice, Noraishah says there’s no single rule to be successful in raising a family. Some are born into the role and have maternal instincts, while some just get on and perform the “job” of being a mother to the best of their abilities.
For more stories about family, read 5 Annoying Things Our Moms Used To Do That We Now Love, or 6 Signs You Have Narcissistic Parents.