Everything changes once you have kids—it’s a statement you’ll hear countless times from well-meaning family and friends before your first baby arrives. And while that bit of foreshadowing is both exciting and terrifying, it can leave new parents feeling as though their old life, and everything they enjoyed about it, is gone forever. The fear that it’s next to impossible to venture out into the world with a new baby or young child can keep some parents at home for months—if not years. We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, once you’ve adjusted to your new reality, you’ll find that getting back to many of the activities you enjoyed before baby is not just possible, it’s important for your mental and physical well-being.
Sure, you may not want to take a toddler to the hottest new restaurant in town for an 8 p.m. reservation. But more and more eateries have realized that being family friendly is good for business. Imaginative kid menus, children-eat-free deals, themed features, changing tables in all bathrooms, and even designated play areas have made going out to dinner (or breakfast, lunch or just coffee) a fun and totally manageable experience for families with small children.
Travel the world.
Many parents fear the unknown when it comes to globe-trotting with young children. But if travel is important to you, either because you want to experience new cultures or be able to visit faraway family and friends, you can absolutely continue traveling once kids arrive. In fact, traveling as a family will create plenty of cherished memories. The trick is to manage expectations—both yours and your child’s. Giving them a run down of what is going to happen, whether it’s a roadtrip or air travel, sets you both up for success. Choose accommodations that make sense for your family—a hotel with an indoor pool for maximum entertainment or an Airbnb with plenty of bedrooms for everyone and space for the adults to relax. Research your destination in advance to find kid friendly activities. And don’t push your kids too far. A good rule of thumb is to plan one activity in the morning, followed by lunch and downtime and one activity in the afternoon before dinner and bedtime. And always remember, carry plenty of snacks. Check out more tips for traveling with kids.
Volunteer in your community.
Part of being a parent is instilling in your child the values that are important to you. And while commitment to community may seem like something to put on the backburner when baby comes along, there’s plenty you can do to give back with your family. Finding age-appropriate activities is as easy as calling or emailing local organizations to see if there are opportunities for families to volunteer together. Often food pantries and other charities will allow children as young as 5 to participate with their parents. Too young for a formal volunteer opportunity? Come up with your own project! Here are some other great ideas for volunteering with kids.
We get it: parents can have a hard time putting their needs before everyone else’s, which often means that healthy habits can fall by the wayside. But it is totally possible to reach your health and fitness goals when you’re a parent. Keep in mind that when you’re healthy, the whole family benefits. Schedule a time to regularly focus on your goals as if it was any other meeting. Think about hiring a sitter to watch the kids while you take time for yourself. Need to bring baby along? No problem. Look for fitness studios or gyms that offer babysitting—some include child care in the price of membership while others charge a nominal fee—or find a stroller fitness program that allows you to bring your baby or young child into the class. It’s a great way to meet other parents who have similar health and fitness goals too!
Climb the corporate ladder.
Work is important to a lot of moms and dads, but having a baby can feel like you have to put off reaching your career goals. We’re not going to sugarcoat it: prioritizing work takes some juggling, reliable child care and often, an understanding boss. But we’re here to tell you that if you have your sights set on career growth, it is possible to stay on track. One way many parents balance the demands of family and work is by working remotely one or more days a week or even starting a new work-from-home business. Just make sure you avoid the pitfalls of remote work.
Keep the romance alive.
Going on dates may feel like a thing of the past, but once kids arrive, it’s more important than ever to have time to reconnect with your partner one-on-one. Plus it gives you a chance to try that hot new restaurant in town. Growing your sitter network and having dependable child care will help you keep that regularly scheduled parent’s night out.