Tuesday 6 February 2018

Parenting Sacrifices

When I was pregnant with Aoife I was very naive - I, rather foolishly, thought that when my daughter arrived that my life would be pretty much the same except that I would have a mini me tag along. I knew that I would have less sleep, but I figured "hey, sleep when she sleeps!"

A large part of me thought that my Monday to Friday, nine to five flexible working request would be accepted and I would spend my evenings enjoying cosy nights in with my friends, enjoying a takeaway and a glass of wine whilst the little one slept soundly. It never occurred to me that so much wouldn't work out how I thought it would and exactly how much I would have to sacrifice.
I never expected my flexible working request to be rejected, resulting in me having to work part time. I hadn't worked part time since I was at University and when I first started it I hated it. I was moved to a different department and I suffered horrifically with anxiety for the first time in years to the point where I was experiencing panic attacks whilst in the car park before starting my shift. Finally, after six long months I was moved back to my original department and instant relief washed over me. 
Going from being fully independent and working full time to part time was a huge sacrifice for me; full time child care costs were crazy and despite part time hours not being my initial plan, I am glad that it went down this route. Although I do find that I tend to try and justify myself when people ask if I work full time or part time as I do believe there is still a stigma surrounding part time work.

Much to my surprise, friendships have been the biggest change and sacrifice for me over the last three years. This wasn't a sudden change, more of a gradual one which seemed to speed up when I was pregnant for the second time. When Aoife was very young, not much changed at all as I was still able to socialise by going shopping or meeting friends at coffee shops for a catch up; she was young enough to sleep in her pram and not know what was going on. As she got older, I noticed that I was getting invited to social gatherings less and less. The times where I was invited but not able to make it due to lack of childcare usually resulted in me inviting people over once they were done so that we could catch up; this, sadly, rarely materialised. Once I was pregnant with Florrie, a lot of friendships diminished very rapidly. I remember having some no shows to my baby shower, with no reason at all, from friends who lived close by. Yet one friend drove for over three hours, whilst also heavily pregnant, to attend. Pregnancy and children do that I guess; show you who exactly is there for you. It may not be those friends who live right round the corner, but those who live further afield. Even those friends who you only see once in a blue moon but it feels as though you saw each other yesterday.
Sacrificing your relationship with your other half is also inevitable when children come along. In that instant you become a mother and a father; your little one will always come first before yourselves and each other. My husband and I haven't had a holiday together since I was pregnant with Aoife, and we only have a date night maybe once a year - twice if we are lucky. It's not that we can't, as we have people who are willing to watch the girls, but I'm the type of parent that is in the mindset of "my children, my responsibility" and I hate palming them off - neither of my girls have spent a night away from both me and my husband yet. This will be happening soon when we go away for my birthday and I am a bag of nerves about it already. Our evenings now consist of a bedtime routine rather than wining and dining like we used to do before the girls came along.

Your own freedom is something that you also have to sacrifice as a parent; no longer can I just pop out to the shops or go for a drive. Every outing now has to be strategically arranged around feeds, naps and nursery pick ups/drop offs. Everything I do is now around the girls routines and I would be digging myself a grave if I messed it up.

The main thing now that I do less of since having the girls is socialising; I guess this comes in hand with friendships being lost too. For the majority of mid week socialising I do have to turn it down as my husband works away and, to be honest, I cannot justify having someone watch the girls for me to just see my friends. Weekends are easier, but even then, money is an issue. Financially, the majority of my wages are spent on the girls; new shoes, clothes, nappies, wipes, formula, the list is endless. Then we have birthdays and Christmas along with everything else in between.

A career is something that I have always wanted; whilst I am happy in my job, there is no room for progression and I don't want to be there forever. I genuinely thought that I would never be able to attempt a career, however next year I am going to push myself to take that first step and apply for a place on a midwifery degree. If I am lucky enough to get on the course, then I will have to utilise family for childcare, which is something that I don't like to do as the girls aren't their responsibility. But ultimately, I want my girls to look up to their mum as a woman with a career, knowing that it is all for them and they can do it too if they set their mind to it.

I would love to hear what sacrifices you have made as a parent.



  1. You are right things change so much when you have children. I’ve gone part time too and it definitely takes some getting used to!

  2. There really are so many changes when you have a child, some are really difficult to adjust too but then I think about it and I realise that I am a lot happier now than I was before I had my daughter.

  3. Things change so much don't they? Now my two are 5 and 2.5, I'm finding that I can go out more and I'm starting to get "me" back xx