5 Unexpected Lessons I Learned in My First 5 Years of Motherhood

My daughter just turned five which means I’ve officially been parenting for half a decade. Before I had Kate, I wanted all the advice I could get my hands on from more seasoned mothers. All of this advice was invaluable in guiding me through the first years of parenthood. Without the wisdom of other moms, I never would have succeeded at navigating feeding, sleeping, routines, discipline, finding daycare, or balancing work.

However, over the last five years, I’ve also discovered some of my own truths.

Some of parenthood I knew to expect–longer nights, busier schedules, deeper love. But a lot of what I’ve learned has been totally unexpected. I think that all parents discover their own little nuggets of truth over the years. Here are my five nuggets:

5 Unexpected Lessons I Learned in My First 5 Years of Motherhood

1. Sometimes I am really bored

I’ve never been much of a homebody. I prefer to be out and about and have a busy calendar. But with young children, you’re tied to the house a lot more. Before kids, I could just pop out to see a movie or meet a friend for dinner on a whim if I found myself with some free time. Logistically that doesn’t work anymore, and so I spend a lot more time around the house.

Overall, I’m much busier than I was before kids, but the new role does come with some more boredom because there’s longer stretches of time without anything specific to do. I’ll bustle around the house doing dishes and laundry and making dinner and fetching snacks, so it’s consuming, but my tasks are less concrete than before and instead I’m doing a little something here, a little something there, and the time can stretch on.

Also, now I’m usually in for the night, and I’m out of town much less on the weekends. Once Kate goes to bed on Saturday, and my husband and I are hanging around the house for a few hours without any specific plans, I can get bored. Before I would have been out on a Saturday night, but now I’m adjusting to life as a homebody.

2. The holidays are magical again

Kids definitely bring back the magic of holidays. When I was a pre-kids adult, a lot of the celebratory aspects of holidays just naturally fell away over time. But everything I loved as a kid–trick or treating, hunting for Easter eggs, writing letters to Santa–is back. It’s so fun to experience the magic of holidays again and see the joy all of these fun little traditions bring to my family. Birthdays are also so fun when there’s a kid bursting with excitement over picking out balloons and a cake.

3. Playing pretend is so hard

Playing pretend as a thirtysomething is SO hard. My daughter is an only child so she frequently targets me as someone to play with. She loves to set up these elaborate storylines with her My Little Ponies and Peppa Pig toys and stuffed animals.

Apparently your imagination totally dissolves by adulthood. I’ll agree to play, because I like to witness how her imagination is growing and what kinds of things she is learning, but honestly these games can be brutal. I’ll think I’ve been playing ponies for a half hour and it turns out it’s only been five minutes.

4. Secondhand is best

Shopping secondhand has become my main option for nearly everything I need to buy for my daughter. I didn’t do a lot of secondhand shopping before kids, but I’ve since discovered that I can find anything I need on the secondhand market in good, gently used condition. I never have a problem finding items on my list, such as ballet shoes the next size up or a big-kid bike. You can look at all of your secondhand shopping options in the area here.

5. Reading sad stuff destroys me

I cannot emotionally handle reading about or hearing stories of sad things happening to children. I used to come across an article or a news broadcast and think, “Oh wow, that’s too bad” but not feel personally affected. Now I hear something heartbreaking about a child I don’t even know and it just destroys me and fills me with a laser-focused urge to see my daughter and hug her endlessly.

I can’t wait to see what I am going to learn in the next five years. What are some of your unexpected truths?


Brigette lives in North Liberty with her husband Brian, energetic daughter Kate (October 2014) and their two cats, Penny and Olive. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Brigette came to Iowa City to attend the journalism school at the University of Iowa, fell in love with the area, and decided she couldn’t leave. After meeting Brian while working at the same Iowa City restaurant in college, they got married in August 2015 in the heart of downtown. She works full time in project management and as an employee of the Core Fitness Kids Club while finishing her MBA at Upper Iowa University. In her free time, she drags Kate out garage sale-ing, tries to keep up with her reading list and runs, lives for Hawkeye football season, enjoys a good meal on a patio, runs her Bachelor/Bachelorette bracket with her family and friends, and of course, chases her daughter around the pool and the park.


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