Whether it's breaking your back to nurse in an uncomfortable position or missing your favorite TV show to let the kiddo watch hers instead, we do a lot as parents (big and super small).
Though everything we do is important to the development of our children, it's doubtful they'll someday remember all the sacrifices they didn't understand when small -- exactly why little wins can be huge as a parent. So it's important to remember that parenting has some super awesome secret perks (besides the kiddos) too. Here are 10 to brighten your day.
1. Kids' Meals For Dinner
Before having a child, I'd often look at the kids meal longingly and know I shouldn't order it. Now that I have a kiddo, I can order the kids' meal "for her" whenever I want at really nice eateries where I may not be able to eat a whole sandwich or burrito (or want to pay $13 for said sandwich and burrito when you get a mini version with drink for $7 in a kid's meal) and simply share it with my daughter. Because so many places are ridiculous and offer soda with a kids meal (and I have yet to kick that habit), I get a water for my daughter and drink the soda.
2. Free Excuse Passes
Haven't gone to the gym in a while? Need a shower? It's because you have kids, yes, and people (mostly) understand. But the excuses come in handy on the rare occasion when you don't want to go to a party or do something, too. "What's that? Oh... sorry, my little one naps at that time. That just won't work. Sorry!" (Use these in moderation, and be considerate of the people you care about, of course.)
3. No One Thinks Twice About Your Shopping Addiction
So you love to shop, huh? I couldn't tell by the giant closet of baby clothes. Suddenly, you don't feel guilty about going to the store for new things because you need it for the baby. Even if you're not really a shopper, per se, after you have kids, it's like there's a chip put in that makes you one. Suddenly, everything that promises to help with parenting is a must. Couponing only makes it worse -- I get excited about my Target couponing and clearance buys that I end up leaving with a lot more than I intended.
4. You Can Enjoy Cartoons Again
If you ever stopped watching kids shows (and missed them), you now get to sit and watch them all you want... and on repeat! It's OK to lounge around with a cartoon, because it's what the kids want to watch. It's even better when you can share a childhood show you loved when you were little with your kids now.
5. A Generous Plus One
Having a little one is a huge perk on occasions when a store or restaurant is giving out something and it's one item per person. When my daughter was just under 2, I took her to free doughnut day at Krispy Kreme (because she goes pretty much everywhere with me), and they gave her a doughnut too. I was not about to give her a doughnut, so I got two! Now that she's older it makes a bit more sense for her to get her own items, but she still doesn't eat them all, or the item may not apply to her and I still end up getting two.
6. Built-In Confidence
It's different for everyone, but after having my daughter, I am more confident about going on adventures and trips "alone" since I'm with her. I don't hesitate to speak up if I feel I need to, because she's watching, and because if something bothers her, I want her to be able to speak up. Plus, aside from the work I need to do on my body by actually exercising, I don't have body issues because I have her. I'm a nursing mom, so don't look at my body the same as a teen or someone in college, or anyone who hasn't given birth yet.
7. The Carpool Lane
I wonder if the people who came up with the idea of carpool lanes meant to write "two adults or more per car" for those traveling to work but wrote "persons" instead, not realizing this generalization would allow parents traveling with kids to fully utilize this benefit. Honestly, carpool is perfect for families with little ones because the less time in the car the better (especially if your baby cries the entire ride, no matter how short).
8. You're Always Prepared
Food accidents are no longer such a problem, because you have an emergency bag with backup clothes, wipes and everything you could possibly need packed away in your car. All those diaper blowouts your child had as an infant led you to this -- preparation. Just be sure you restock the outfits in your car, rotate them for the seasons, and check to be sure they still fit you and your child.
9. No-Shame Playtime
Now that you have a kid, you're free to play at the park with your little one as much as you want. You can draw on the sidewalk, get paint everywhere and even make tents out of bedsheets. You know about all the family fairs and free kids events, and get to enjoy every activity with your little ones. Suddenly, spending hours on a LEGO build is socially acceptable again... because you're bonding with your kid! Using a pretend accent or wearing crazy clothes can be totally OK when you have kids, because it's for the kids. Judgements on your lack of clean clothes or mismatched attire brush off a bit, and the admiration you receive when you look like you have it together is priceless.
10. Airport Perks
Getting on the plane early is amazing! There's no way a parent can climb over a full plane with car seat in tow, or keep their kiddo entertained while waiting for the line of people to board in front of them. Kids and parents need time to get situated and settle in before everyone else boards the plane and decides if they'll sit in that extra seat next to mom or dad. The Family Line at the Security Checkpoint? Also priceless.
What are your parent perks? Please share them in the comments!