Parenting can be bloody tough. It can be undoubtedly awesome too, but it’s those challenging days which really make you (occasionally) question why you created life. Sometimes then, it’s important to try to focus on the little things. Those minor wins – no matter how inconsequential to others – which stop you from rocking in the corner and crying uncontrollably into your cold cup of coffee. A cup of coffee, which by the way, has already been microwaved three times.
I’m neither an optimist or a pessimist. But, I reckon I have a reasonable knack at being able to spot the unnoticed in every day situations. Take, for instance, my recent post on the unexpected benefits of sending Toddler L to nursery, or alternative days out with your toddler. They’re maybe things that don’t smack you around the face as being obvious, but it’s these things which are my little wins.
I therefore thought I’d take a slight step back and identify some of the unexpected benefits of being a parent. You know, those things that are good, but maybe have never been fully recognised or endorsed. I’m not talking about the obvious. Stuff like having a kid who loves you and who you love is self-explanatory.
I’m talking about the hidden benefits – you know, maybe something like having someone to wipe your arse when you’re old or the extra dosh you bring in from child benefit payments. So, in no particular order – and ignoring those two belters I’ve just mentioned – here’s five of my top unexpected benefits:
Unexpected Benefits 1: You Can Finish Their Food
We all know the dramas that can surround kids and their food. Although I’ve found Toddler L and her grub to be a hugely stressful experience, there are upsides. The biggest one being that you get to eat any of their leftover food. It may sound greedy – which I guess it is – but considering the amount of rubbish that goes to landfill each year, I’m probably doing the planet a favour in reducing this waste.
I’ll often sit at the dinner table keeping an eye on Toddler L’s eating progress – particularly when it’s something like paella. Sure, part of this is to coax and encourage her to eat her food. However, the other part is already sussing out what bits of her food I want to devour. I’m likely to pass on the stuff that’s been pre-chewed, spat out or squeezed in her hands, but everything else is fair game. It’s quite a conflict though – my brain and heart wants her to eat, yet my stomach hopes that I can polish off her leftovers. The key is to always prepare food that you like – then it’s a win win no matter what the outcome is.
The stickers are keeping these two occupied. Hopefully that’ll mean more food for me! pic.twitter.com/cSybHw56LK
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) May 17, 2016
Unexpected Benefits 2: You Can Get Them To Do Stuff
This might sound a bit lazy and exploitative, but hear me out before you judge. Having a kid means that you have a little person that you ‘own’. Sure, you don’t have a receipt, but as they used to live in your balls, you have some kind of pre-existing landlord tenancy agreement in place. Anyway, I digress.
Having a kid means that they can help you out with stuff. I’ve written previously about getting them involved in the household chores, but it goes further than that too. Toddler L is now at the age where she likes to help me out – and is actually bloody good at it. She can pass me the TV remote, she can help me look for car keys, she can pass me my clothes in the morning. It’s like having your very own servant who you only need to pay in Cheerios, hugs and nose wipes.
Unexpected Benefits 3: You Get A ‘Special’ Day
One of the huge advantages of becoming a parent is that you get a day in your honour. This type of thing rarely happens unless you get married, are royalty or go on to become a Saint. When you have a kid though, you automatically get a Mother or Father’s day. You may not have a clue what you’re doing, but bringing a kid into the world is seen as such an achievement that this day is yours each and every year.
It’s times like this that you’ve got to feel sorry for non-parents. They have to just settle for their regular birthday, whereas a parent gets a birthday and a Mother’s / Father’s Day. With things like presents, breakfasts in bed, the family doing whatever you want and everyone being on their best behaviour, it nearly goes someway to making up for the other 264 shit days. A word of warning though. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that additional kids mean additional Mother’s / Father’s day. If you want to maximise the pain and gain, stay at one kid.
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) June 21, 2015
Unexpected Benefits 4: You Can Use Baby Wipes
Since becoming a parent, I’ve learnt the wonders of baby wipes. Before I was a dad, they were just something I saw advertised on TV, in the supermarket or occasionally when the missus took off her makeup. Now I have a kid though, I’ve learnt that those moist bits of fabric are game changers. Whoever came up with the concept of a disposable wipe that is already wet deserves a medal – although they’re not quite as good as some of my baby inventions.
The thing is, baby wipes can be used for loads of stuff. I often utilise them for cleaning surfaces in the house, removing smears from my phone or laptop, freshening up my pits during summer or wiping fox crap off the dog when he’s rolled. The best thing for them though is their original purpose – wiping an arse. I’m not just talking about baby arse though. I mean my arse. Once you’ve used a wet baby wipe to clean that crevice, there’s no going back to dry, coarse bog roll. It’s like I’m a film star. Don’t believe me? Then give it a crack (ba dum tshh)!
Unexpected Benefits 5: You Can Use Your Kid As An Excuse
The older I’ve got, the more anti-social I’ve become. It may surprise you as I’m obviously such a people person (ha!), but I like to spend time on my own, time as a couple or time as a family. I don’t really do random chatting with strangers just because. As such, I’ve found that a good excuse is key. Without one, you’ll be forced to go to kid’s birthday parties, work dos or social gatherings even when you’d prefer to be sticking needles through your ball sack.
Having a baby provides you with that perfect excuse. Suddenly you have a legitimate reason to get out of anything and everything – and all you’ve had to do is spawn life. Simple! I can’t even recall the number of times Toddler L has been my excuse. If you can’t be bothered to go somewhere, then try “Ah, I’d love to, but the baby isn’t feeling too well”. If you don’t want to deal with the bible basher at the door, then bring out the classic “I’d love to talk, but I can’t as I’m in the middle of something with my kid”. It’s such a good excuse, that I sometimes even find myself using her as an excuse on my self so that I don’t have to leave the house!
Pretty sure that having a cuddle and watching TV is a good excuse for not getting dinner ready. pic.twitter.com/Sfnqv0bmOH
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) April 15, 2016
So those are my top five unexpected perks when you become a parent. Do any of these sound familiar? What would you add to the list? Let me know below!
N.B. This is an updated version of a post originally written for Hippychick.