The Random Writings of Rachel: Life Without Kids vs. With Them

Life Without Kids vs. With Them

Spending a month and a half with my family was a big learning experience for us, as regarding how different life is when you live with children vs. when you live without them.

I say "us," although "Angel" is more accurate. I'd never compare siblinghood to parenting, but being the oldest kid in a big family makes you pretty comfortable with a world where little ones are are seemingly always running around somewhere underfoot.

Angel was positively shocked at some of the aspects of life with a bunch of kids. He figured out all on his own that staying around the apartment complex and only going places within walking distance (the pool, the park, the library) was far, far easier than trying to organize a family outing and wrangle feisty toddlers on the public bus.



Toddlers sometimes play with far more toys than they have any logical reason to play with. And you have to sweep after every single meal with them because no matter how hard you're trying to instill table manners--rice is going to end up on the floor. This shocked him--and the fact that it shocked him made my wiser-in-the-ways-of-children family members say, "That's cute."

The husband finally discovered the amazing thing about naps, because when all of the kids happened to fall asleep simultaneously in the afternoon, that's when we could do  utterly irresponsible things like watch Pirates of the Caribbean or play board games that involved small pieces. The miracle of naps is a familiar one to me. When we lived in Texas more than a decade ago, our most favorite thing to do was to play hide and seek in the dark with our friends in the afternoon. I would put the two littlest sisters down for their afternoon nap so that they wouldn't be trampled by preteens, and we'd play as quietly as we could (side note: Hide and seek in the dark is not a very quiet game. People always scream!) until the first cries let us know that naptime was over.


Doing housework suddenly becomes harder than it ought, because not only do you have to mop, you have to prevent small children from attempting to jump into your bucket of soapy water. I thought it was a genius idea of mine to hand scrubbrushes to the 4 year olds and assign them the task of cleaning the bathroom (no soap was involved, of course, just plain old water). They had a grand time, and the bathroom is one that won't be hurt by excessive amounts of water being sprayed everywhere. Of course, afterwards, everyone had to change out of sopping wet clothes, but that's part of the fun.

It's funny to me to look at what we both got out of the experience. Angel says that living life with kids forced him to face his own innate selfishness. I got a great refresher course in rules and strategies for life with toddlers, for example, the classic, "If you two fight over the toy, no one gets to play with the toy." Banished toys are simply a part of life, folks. I also found out that kids are rough on the body. I bruise easily, and my legs were nearly constantly covered in bruises while we were there, due to being grabbed at and head-butted and jumped on by overly-enthusiastic little ones. I think I did eventually convince them that if they want a piggyback ride, they're going to have much better luck with Angel.

It was hard to say goodbye. It's not easy to answer a beautiful, brown-eyed little girl's question, "But why? Why do you have to go to work?" I'm a tough cookie. When they cry because they want to play with a toy that's in jail, it doesn't move me one iota. But it's a different story when they cry because you're leaving them.

Life sure seems a lot quieter now.

29 comments:

  1. I'm a nanny, so I see the contrast from life with kids to life without on a daily basis! Right now, I'm happy to be able to hand them back to their parents at the end of the day and be able to go back to my life. I definitely want to have kids someday, but being a nanny is helping me to be grateful for the things in my life that will change when that day comes!

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  2. Oh gosh, Rachel. SO much of this gave me a giggle! From the "irresponsible" behaviour of playing games with small pieces, to the golden rule of "if you're going to fight, no one gets it". It brings back vivid memories of growing up as a sibling!

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  3. Why do you have to go to work, indeed? Glad you all had a good time. And learning something new is always good!

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  4. Haha, you had me nodding, I can relate! Isn't it funny how much our lives change? I had no idea before I had kids how much I would change as a person and how my days and interests would be transformed.

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  5. Kids definitely change everything. And then they get older and it all changes again!

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  6. Hah! A baptism of fire for Angel!

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  7. LOL poor Angel, sounds like a crash course in kids! But I'm sure he enjoyed it too! :)

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  8. This was a very true, very cute post! Out of curiosity, how many kiddos are we talking here? Sounds like a houseful!

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  9. I felt this way when my sister had kids. It was so weird!

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  10. It's so true, especially the last part...Rhys has just within this week gotten separation anxiety. So, although he loves his babysitter and her toddlers, when he sees me leaving, he starts to cry and it BREAKS MY HEART!

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  11. I used to nanny for 2 years in college and this post is SO true! It opened my eyes in a whole way to life with kids that I didn't expect.

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  12. I totally feel you! Having nine younger siblings makes me relate with this totally!!!

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  13. My husband is the oldest of 5 was so used to a full house. I was the youngest but I baby-sat a lot so I'm fairly aware of the theoretical differences. It's probably a good idea for everyone to baby-sit/work with kids in some capacity!

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  14. I know that feeling too well. =) My husband's two sisters had kids long before we did, so family get-togethers were certainly something. It was crazy, but it did teach me a lot about how to raise kids, which helps now that we have our daughter.

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  15. Sounds like you had an awesome time! I only have 3 younger siblings, and the youngest is 13, so we're a ways past having little ones around. I did have a house-cleaning and packing job for a family with 9 children under age 13--most of them helping. It was quite the experience--and a lot of fun! I don't think I'd like that many children full time, but for a few days (spaced out a bit), it was great--the children were so adorable. I enjoyed hearing about your adventures with the children; sounds like you have some clever ideas for managing them.

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  16. That's awesome you got to spend time with family! I am the second youngest in my family so I didn't take care of siblings growing up. I babysat plenty as a tween/teen including my own nieces and nephews, who I adore, but having my own infant and now infant and toddler was a RUDE AWAKENING. Ha. I've gotten used to it and there's a lot of joy having my own two little kiddios, but at first I was like, "This baby is a TYRANT!" And toddlers are both delightful and aggravating 100 times every hour. :)

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  17. Nap time is the literal best. TV and snack time without a toddler wanting my food!

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  18. Thank you for visiting Beautiful Girlhood, Rachel! So lovely to have you! I'm glad you like 'Nothing Gold Can Stay' as well...I read a comment about it and the person said how it reminded him of the fragility of life...isn't that so interesting and true?
    Blessings to you!

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  19. Oh my gosh.. the housework one! Riding on the vacuum is our kid's fave!

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  20. Saying goodbye to family and loved ones is always so difficult. I understand it all too well since I live 5000 miles away to all of my family and my dear mom, dad and brother. What a neat post and so many happy photos, too.

    Have a great weekend, Rachel!

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  21. I am SO selfish, I can barely handle life with my 3 dogs sometimes, let alone kids!

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  22. Yestarday I painted Easter eggs with a 3.5 year old and a 2 year old. I feel wiser now ;)

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  23. My husband and I watched our friends' son a few weeks ago. We had him for three days, and he's 20 months old, and I'll be totally honest. I took the next day off work to recover! Quite a contrast from our normal life!

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  24. I've always been around kids - my younger siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, and my own children. It's so quiet and eerie without them, lol! I'm used to the chaos and find it quite peaceful and reassuring. Their innocence keeps me grounded and keeps my selfishness in check. I couldn't really imagine life without it all. :)

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  25. Life with kids is 5,000,000 things all at once and 90% of it is beautiful. 10% is gross or loud. They're wonderful.

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  26. Yeah if you're not used to kids they take adjustment - I have been used to kids all my life but as I get older I appreciate the quiet. My son is 7 years of age and he's an anomaly because he's very quiet and well behaved, although, I was the exact same way so I assume genetics. I've done my fair share of care-taking with children so I think I'm good in my life now. I have one amazing son and I am happy with that. It is hard to explain to them, especially when little, that you have to leave them.. Thankfully, my son is more rational now that he's 7 so it makes it easier but it was tough when he was young. Have a great one Rachel! -Iva

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  27. Oh man, I had to babysit a little potato 3 year old for a friend of mine. It was just for a few hours.....I thought it would be easy but by the end of it my back hurt, I was extremely tired and the kid kept doing so many things with such energy! :-D It ruined me!

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  28. When I got married, it was so hard to explain to my four year old sister why I was moving out. I struggled with that for weeks!

    I feel like Cory and Angel are in the same boat, though. While Cory is great with kids and can really get on their level and entertain them, I feel like he is in for a huge shock when we decide to have kids.

    It's the little comments that make me think this like "kids will be easier than dogs because at least they mind."

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