The thing with advice is that everyone loves to give it, but few people actually want it. I remember when I was pregnant with E, our neighbours at the time seemed almost gleeful at telling us how our life was pretty much over now and that things would only now revolve around our child. They laughed that we would be getting a minivan soon enough and that our weekends would be spent at the rink before too long watching our son play hockey. We tried to say that we didn't want a van or for our child to play hockey, and they just laughed, like "we'll see".
Being on the other side of that, I know a bit about what they meant, but not about everything. Yes, having a child means you don't get to do everything you want to do, but it does not mean that your life is over. Everyone finds the things that they like to do, and there is no right way to do it. For us, we took E out to all kinds of restaurants from a young age (see my tips for that here), we took him to sporting events, we travelled to Barcelona as our family vacation, and we registered him in skiing as our strategy for discouraging hockey. We do a lot of things where E is our focus, but we also want to introduce him to many different experiences that aren't necessarily "kid friendly". We are lucky that he is a pretty good kid and it is impossible to know if this is just his personality or if he is so good because of how we have raised him. The classic nature vs. nurture argument. We will see how the next kid turns out!
So when I talk to new parents, I do try to bite my tongue about the changes that will happen in their life. They should be encouraged to find their own way and make the choices the work for him. I am happy to share my advice, but not as "you should do it this way" but as "this is what we did and it worked for us". It's not always easy to be non-judgmental but it how I try to react.
That all being said, this is my advice for people who are about to have their first child:
- Go to the movies. Dave and I don't get to see many movies in the theatre now because when we do get a babysitter or have a parent visiting, we tend to go out to eat instead. At least now, we have started seeing some movies with E, but those are obviously limited choices.
- Eat at a restaurant where you would never take a child. As I said before, we have taken E to many restaurants, starting when he was a few weeks old and basically just stayed in his carseat, to when he was a toddler and we grabbed forks, glasses, and salt and pepper shakers from his little hands before the ended up on the floor. I have breastfed him at the table, we have brought food with us to feed him, and we've ordered him things off of the adult menu. But there are a couple of places where I would never take a kid, even at 5:00, and we still haven't been to those places yet. So go now.
- Sleep in. I actually like getting up early and making the most of my day, but I do like to be lazy sometimes and would love to spend the entire morning reading in bed. Although I will sleep in on occasion, I don't spend all day in bed because I like spending time with my family so I get up and go downstairs.
Your priorities will change with the new baby, but you won't really mind. The only thing to remember is that you don't need to give up your own life and your own interests just because you have a child. If you want to travel, either alone or with the kids, then travel. If you like eat at restaurants, then go out.