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Parents are sharing the one thing that surprised them the most about having kids

Becoming a parent is simultaneously one of the most rewarding and terrifying life experiences a person can have. And try as you may, no matter how many books or blogs you read, there’s really no way to fully prepare for the ongoing reality of parenting. There’s always something you didn’t expect or account for, some surprise child-rearing delight or horror that catches you off guard.

Parents on X are sharing the one thing that most caught them by surprise about parenting and it’s a treasure trove of “What to Expect” wisdom and experience that might—might—help prospective or new parents feel a little bit more prepared.

The thread started off with @realgirl_fieri posing the question and sharing her own unexpected parenting plot twist.

“What is one parenting thing that caught you completely by surprise?” she asked. “I was prepared for sleeplessness, tantrums, picky eating. But I genuinely didn’t believe until I saw it with my own two eyes just how hard it is to find childcare that fully covers your working hours.”

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Other parents hopped right on in with surprises that run the gamut from food to sensory overload to kids’ hilarity.

Let’s start with sleep. We all know to expect to be tired with babies, but until you’re in the thick of it with a baby who really doesn’t sleep well, you don’t know how life-altering it can be. There’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique, after all.

@Hardley76 @realgirl_fieri I spent 4 years with such severe sleep deprivation I was literally hallucinating. It’s actually the theme of the next thriller I’m writing. I was prepared for “tired” – I never imagined how much it would break me. Not enough support out there. 13 years later I’m still not over it

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Some parents were taken aback by having less socialization than they expected.

“Honestly, I thought I’d see my friends with kids more,” shared one mom. “My two best friends had babies when I did in 2022. I’ve seen each twice. I thought we’d be together all the time,” offered another.

“I thought there would be more play dates,” agreed another. “Maybe we’re just not there yet, but with work, school, life it just doesn’t happen? Sometimes with my friends with kids but rarely with friends from school.”

@sarahradz_ @realgirl_fieri My oldest friend has two little kids around my kidsu2019 ages, and the best we can do these days is like a 5 minute FaceTime whenever the stars align. Always interrupted by the kids talking to each other, then over within minutes ud83dude2d

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Some have been surprised by how true the stereotype of Mom always having her meal interrupted can be. When kids are little, it’s shocking how many times you find yourself getting up from the dinner table, even when you think you had everything ready to go.

“The line from A Christmas Story resonates,” shared one commenter, “watching his mom getting up/down at dinner and Ralphie narrates ‘My mother had not had a hot meal for herself in 15 years.'”

@clhubes @realgirl_fieri I have long thought this needs to be a SNL sketch bc it truly feels like the kids have perfect comedic timing with a new request every time my butt almostttt hits the chair!

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And then there’s the not really getting to sit down at all part due to snacks, spills, finding things, breaking up fights, etc. And when you finally do sit, you immediately becoming a lap to sit on or a climbing apparatus.

@IBD_AGatlin @realgirl_fieri Thissss. I was a nanny for almost 10 years before I had my daughter so I knew what I was in for. 4 years later and itu2019s NOTHING like nannying. If Iu2019m sitting down, Iu2019m getting climbed onud83dude29

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Some parents were surprised by the number and variety of toys and the noise that came with them. “Nobody told me there would be so much smashing and crashing of toys,” wrote one parent. Others were amazed by how quickly you become overrun with toys even when you don’t buy any. It’s like they just appear out of thin air.

Others offered up the out-of-left-field, unexpectedly-expensive need for berries. All the berries. So. Many. Berries.

As one dad shared, “One of the most ernest pieces of advice I got from a friend with two toddlers was to never introduce your children to blueberries. They are so expensive and children will eat an unlimited amount. They will bankrupt you.”

@throeingit @realgirl_fieri And strawberries, blackberries, bananas, grapes, raspberries, the list goes onnnI swear Iu2019m going to have to get a second job just to feed my kids berry habit

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On the up side, kids can also be delightfully bright and rip-roaring hilarious right from the get go.

@andeholmes @realgirl_fieri Yes! My brother was trying to get my son (6mo) to smile and asked me how I make him laugh. I very seriously said “oh just act like you are going to eat his hand, he thinks that’s hilarious” and my brother was confused then delighted when he tried it and my son laughed. u2764ufe0fud83dude02

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And then there’s the sheer relentlessness of it all and the constant space your beloved children take up in your psyche.

“You’re never alone, never off duty, never just responsible for yourself, never just thinking about yourself and your wants/ needs,” shared one parent. “This is the one,” agreed another. “I haven’t been alone for any meaningful period of time in eight years.”

Even if you manage to carve out some time for yourself, you’re never not thinking about your children in some part of your mind, and your parental instincts are always “on.”

@osimonsays1 @realgirl_fieri Never 100% relaxed again is SO true. I think the only times Iu2019ve felt truly rested in the last 21 years has been when Iu2019m under anesthesia for surgery. And they wonder why I laugh and cry simultaneously like a bipolar hyena.

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It’s good to share these things as parents so we know we’re not alone and so that people becoming parents aren’t totally blindsided. No matter how much people tell you, there will certainly be some things you still weren’t prepared for, so anything that makes prepping for parenting even a tiny bit easier is worth sharing.

Source: Upworthy
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