We all know the ways children limit our freedoms. Life is no longer spur of the moment. Babysitters must be booked weeks in advance. Plans have to be cancelled at the last minute when someone gets sick (every.single.time). Even when we do get the chance to enjoy a little freedom, sometimes we are just too tired to take advantage (every.single.time).
But kids also open us up to a lot of things that are off limits, or weird, or just not fun without them. We get to experience life all over again through their eyes, and it is glorious (kids have really good vision). They make adorable observations about things that we take for granted because we live in a cynical, consumer-driven grown-up world. In fact, just witnessing your child seeing the ocean for the first time automatically makes you forget that you haven't gone to the bathroom by yourself in years.
Do you remember how fun Children's Museums are? Or zoos? Or a really awesome park? Before I had kids I visited these types of places once in a blue moon, usually when someone from out of town was visiting. Now I feel like we take full advantage of the amazing city we live in. Gorgeous day? Lets take a picnic to the zoo. Everyone getting a little stir crazy at home? Lets go play in the giant water room at the Children's Museum. Lazy Sunday? Lets take a walk to one of the lakes.
Because kids won't tolerate sitting at home all weekend with hungover parents binge-watching Netflix. They need to get out and experience things, and by extension, so do we.
Maximum Holiday Cheer
Holiday traditions are engineered to bring children extreme joy. Before having kids the holidays were fun, but I have to admit I didn't fully get into the spirit. I might put up a few decorations, throw an ugly sweater party, and call it a success.
Now, I pull out all the stops. Our entire house looks like the Target seasonal aisle threw up. We engage in seasonally-appropriate activities weeks (okay months) in advance. I use the kids as an excuse to make all of my favorite treats and crafts. I get to relive my own holiday memories and make new ones. It makes me a little weepy just thinking about it, actually (is it fall yet I have the sudden urge to carve 15 pumpkins).
All the Disney
I LOVE watching kids movies. They remind me of my own childhood and some of them are enjoyable on a different level as an adult. Now that I have children, I can watch them as much as I want without feeling like a weirdo. I have an excuse to purchase all the Disney movies as soon as they are released from the vault. My son would much prefer to watch Daniel Tiger on repeat for eternity, but you can bet I force him to watch Little Mermaid every few weeks for my own enjoyment.
Old Man Clothes
Young children don't know about fashion, and are thus tiny human dolls that wear clothes purely for their parents' enjoyment. I buy clothes that look like something from the closet of a tiny 90-year-old man for my infant sons. My toddler isn't even fully aware of whether or not he has on pants, so he still wears the jorts, suspenders and Chuck Taylors I routinely dress him in without complaint (knocking the shit out of some wood right now).
So. Many. Toys
I secretly enjoy playing with some of my sons' toys (while pretending we are actually playing together). I've made some pretty incredible shit with Duplos and it wasn't always when my toddler was awake. The tracks I've built on our train table are inspired. Coloring books are still just as enjoyable as when I was 10. The same goes for Play-Doh.
So maybe I haven't eaten in a nice restaurant or seen a movie or stepped foot inside a bar in months (okay years), but I guarantee you I've seen and done more in this city than most people without kids. Kids limit us in a lot of ways, but their boundless energy and enthusiasm and curiosity also allow us to experience life to the fullest. So thank you, toddler who doesn't nap and cannot sit still for more than 5 minutes. I look forward to an entire childhood of adventures by your side.